The Arabist

The Arabist

By Issandr El Amrani and friends.

Does April 6 really have a PR firm in the US?

Steve Cook writes, in Flacking The Revolution, that April 6 now has a PR company in the US:

Yesterday afternoon I became aware that a Beverly Hills-based public relations firm is representing Egypt’s April 6th Movement. In a small way, the movement’s ties to Levine Communications Office (LCO) reveals many of the incongruities and paradoxes that make Washington’s relations with the Arab world so fraught. To be fair, on a practical level, it makes a lot of sense: The firm is working for April 6th on a pro bono basis, it is sure to have a better list of press contacts than any Egyptian firm, the U.S. media market is the biggest in the world, and speaking to American reporters provides the movement a good way to try to influence the Obama administration.

On another level, the April 6th Movement’s relationship with LCO is curious given the group’s history and role in the Egyptian uprising. April 6th was founded in solidarity with Egyptian workers who had been engaged in wildcat strikes and job actions against the neo-liberal economic policies (hatched in Washington) that the Egyptian government was pursuing. A primary goal of the movement’s leadership was to convince workers that their economic problems were inextricably linked to the authoritarian nature of the Mubarak regime. Moroever, my understanding is that the underlying causes of the uprising—which would not have happened if not for the efforts of the April 6th Movement according to the message journalists received from LCO—were national dignity, authenticity, and empowerment. A primary component of the anger directed at Hosni Mubarak was his close alignment with the United States, which many Egyptians believed warped Egyptian foreign policy and compromised Cairo’s regional influence.

I’d treat this news with some caution — April 6 has had problems with members doing and saying things that go against its leaders’ policies in the past. In the current environment of a witchhunt against foreign funding, it's worth approaching this with caution. I’ve emailed LCO asking them for a clarification, we’ll see what they say. Let me know if you have any info in the comments.