Egypt, still the land of denial

Army officers beating protestors / watchers. (Stupid music unnecessary, particularly when in the background someone seems to be yelling “the journalist died” or something similar [1:20].

More beatings with truncheons, rock-throwing by soldiers.

Here you can clearly see uniformed troops throwing rocks from the top of the government building adjacent to parliament.

From the same rooftop, a uniformed soldier relieving himself on the roof — doing the Egyptian army proud.

The government would have you believe all of the above is untrue, did not happen, and was done by foreigners anyway: Ganzouri blames cabinet clashes on ‘foreign elements’:

Prime Minister Kamal al-Ganzouri on Saturday accused “foreign elements” of stirring up riots outside Egypt’s cabinet building.

In a press conference, he also said military police have exercised self-control in dealing with protesters.

Eight people have died and at least 299 injured in the clashes, the Health Ministry reported earlier on Saturday.

“Elements that infiltrated the protest shot fire. Everything that is happening now has nothing to do with the revolution. This is intended to ruin the revolution,” Ganzouri said.

He went on to say that revolutionary youth are those who fight unemployment or seek to solve society’s problems, adding, “Those who carry out these acts are not revolutionaries and do not want the best for Egypt.”

“Once again I emphasize that military forces did not clash with them, and only guarded the parliament and cabinet building,” he said.

Someone — a behavioral psychologist perhaps — should do a study of the power of denial in Egypt, something I’ve long called the Egyptian Reality Distortion Field (ERDF — used in another with regards to Steve Jobs). The ERDF gives Egyptians, notably public officials, an uncanny ability to disregard what is plain for all to see and, with the utmost confidence, assure all comers of its opposite. Ganzouri today described people dying during the protests and then insisted “there was no violence” before storming out of his press conference. Last October the SCAF insisted no army truck ran over protestors despite much video evidence being available of exactly that.

The most incredible thing about the ERDF is that it seems to work on most of the population, giving many Egyptians the ability to assert one thing and then its opposite with no awareness of self-contradiction. You have to experience it to understand it. Much of it has to do with Egypt being the Blanche Dubois of the Middle East — a faded belle whose glory days have long gone but who keeps on pretending otherwise — and is all too often indulged (somewhat abusively) by those around her. Apparently, a country can suffer from post-menopausal hysteria.1

As Mohamed ElBaradei wrote on Twitter:

Since #Jan25, innocents continue to be killed & tortured while authority denies using force or violence. Orwell’s “Min. of Truth” reincarnated


  1. I only use the hysteria reference for theatric effect in the context of the Streetcar metaphor, with apology. Read this for debunking. ↩

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Issandr El Amrani

Issandr El Amrani is a Cairo-based writer and consultant. His reporting and commentary on the Middle East and North Africa has appeared in The Economist, London Review of Books, Financial Times, The National, The Guardian, Time and other publications. He also publishes one of the longest-running blog in the region, www.arabist.net.