When it came to overthrowing Hosni Mubarek, the western media thrust itself into the situation and portrayed the uprising as a western-style demand for freedom.
The television screens were filled with stories of relatively western figures such as Google employee Wael Ghonim, who became the face of the new Egypt — educated, professional, and desirous of freedom as we know it.
Now that Mubarek is gone, the western media mostly has moved on to the next revolution, secure in the perception that Egypt is moving in the right direction.
But that is a false comfort. As I posted yesterday, over a million Egyptians turned out in Tahrir Square last Friday to cheer the vile anti-Semitic Sunni cleric Sheik Yusuf al-Qaradawi, who had been exiled by Mubarek, and who espouses the fundamentalist Islamic view that Jews must live as Dhimmis under Islamic control. Instead of accurately reporting the significance of this event, The New York Times whitewashed the cleric as someone who supports a “a pluralistic, multiparty, civil democracy.”
Here is the video of the rally (in Arabic, via Israel Matzav) with the crowd chanting:
“To Jerusalem We go, for us to be the Martyrs of the Millions.”
Where was the western hero Ghonim?
He tried to take the microphone to speak to the crowd, presumably to preach his western values, but he was kept off the stage by Sheik al-Qaradawi’s security.
Google executive Wael Ghonim, who emerged as a leading voice in Egypt’s uprising, was barred from the stage in Tahrir Square on Friday by security guards, an AFP photographer said. Ghonim tried to take the stage in Tahrir, the epicentre of anti-regime protests that toppled President Hosni Mubarak, b ut men who appeared to be guarding influential Muslim cleric Yusuf al-Qaradawi barred him from doing so.
Ghonim, who was angered by the episode, then left the square with his face hidden by an Egyptian flag.
This is the problem with those, like Roger Cohen in The New York Times, who glorify the “Arab Street.” Ghonim was not the face of the “Arab Street,” he merely was a face to which western media could relate.
Will the western media be as vigorous in exposing what is going on now in Egypt as it was in exposing the wrongs of Mubarek? I think not, because the truth — that the western media acted as willing dupes once again — hits too close to home.
As for Ghonim, expect him to follow the path of the intelligentsia wherever Islamist forces have taken control. He’ll move to the United States, where he will sit down for another 60 Minutes interview lamenting what has become of his beloved Egypt.
Update: Be sure to read Barry Rubin’s Egypt Gets Its Khomeini: Qaradawi Returns in Triumph and MEMRI’s compilation of Qaradawi’s sermons.