February 14, 2011 Special Dispatch No. 3585

The Egyptian Revolution Reaches Egyptian Government Papers – 'Al-Ahram Publishes Apology for Pro-Mubarak Coverage

February 14, 2011
Egypt | Special Dispatch No. 3585

The signs of the revolution in Egypt are permeating the Egyptian government media as well.[1] What began as coverage sympathetic to the regime developed into support for the demonstrators as they gathered momentum. With the fall of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, and following increasing protests by employees in the government media organizations against their editorial policy, the government media has now completely changed direction, and its members are beginning to criticize the previous establishment – even apologizing for their previous pro-Mubarak coverage.

This has been manifested in several incidents: Employees of the Egyptian Al-Sharq Al-Awsat news agency rallied to protest against the pro-Mubarak editorial policy;[2] hundreds of Egyptian TV news desk employees demonstrated to demand the resignation of the desk chief, accusing him of corruption and of exploiting public funds;[3] and employees at the Al-Gomhouriyya daily and its evening paper Al-Masaa, as well as of the Roz Al-Yousuf newspaper, held a protest rally demanding improved employment conditions, changes in the papers' editorial boards, new editors, and a revision of the publication policy so that it would express the demands of the people. [4]

In addition, according to reports in the independent Egyptian daily Al-Mesryoon, some 300 journalists from the Al-Ahram institution sought to publish an apology to readers, in the highest-circulated daily Al-Ahram, for the professional conduct during the uprising. According to the reports, after Abd Al-Mun'im Said, the Al-Ahram board of directors chairman, and Osama Saraya, the editor of the Al-Ahram daily, opposed the initiative, the journalists met and demanded the firing of the entire editorial staff of the Al-Ahram institution and the prosecution of some of its members, claiming that they had misled the readers.[5]

In any event, an apology was published today in an editorial in the Al-Ahram newspaper, apparently following the pressure by Al-Ahram newspaper employees. The following are excerpts from the apology:

"At critical junctures in the history of peoples, some lose their balance, their [clarity of] vision, and their [powers of] reasoning. When the Revolution of the Youth broke out on January 25, at the very first moments Al-Ahram failed to hear the thundering message of change. As happened in many other large and solid Egyptian institutions, an intense ideological dispute broke out, along with an intense conflict regarding the best position to take vis-à-vis this unique and rare moment in the history of the Egyptian nation.

"The drama thus began [to unfold] within Al-Ahram: not a conflict between stability and change, but an intense conflict between the modern outlook that belongs to the new age and a different outlook that clings to the era and the regime that were collapsing and failing. The enlightened and conscientious people at Al-Ahram, just like the other elements [in Egypt] who advocated freedom, justice and democracy, understood that the will of the people would triumph, as indeed happened. Thus, influenced by the Revolution of the Youth and by the rallying of the people around it, the lively forces in Al-Ahram exerted pressures and managed to return [the daily] to its true owners – the Egyptian people.

"Today... we extend the necessary apology to the noble Egyptian people for any bias [we showed] in favor of the corrupt regime, and vow that from now on we will always lean towards the legitimate demands of the people, and that Al-Ahram will remain the conscience of this nation.

"We are proud of the pure blood [spilled] by the forces of backwardness and oppression, and ask the families of the martyrs to forgive us. No sacrifice of ours can compare to even a single drop of [the martyrs'] blood. The only words of consolation [we can extend to the families] are that [the martyrs] sacrificed their lives so that this nation could lift up its head and live in dignity."


[1] From the beginning of the demonstrations up until Mubarak stepped down, the coverage of events by the Egyptian government media was harshly criticized. See for example MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 3548, "The Middle East Crisis Part V – Egyptian Playwright Ali Salem: The 'Culture of Denial' in Egypt's Government Press – The Root Cause of the Demonstrations," February 1, 2011, The Middle East Crisis Part V - Egyptian Playwright Ali Salem: The 'Culture of Denial' in Egypt's Government Press – The Root Cause of the Demonstrations .

[2] Al-Masri Al-Yawm (Egypt), February 13, 2011.

[3] Al-Quds Al-Arabi (London), February 13, 2011.

[4] Al-Gomhouriyya (Egypt), February 14, 2011; Al-Masri Al-Yawm (Egypt), February 13, 2011.

[5] Al-Mesryoon (Egypt), February 14, 2011.

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