Sisi, Burhan urge international efforts towards binding deal on GERD    Al-Sisi visits Sudan for first time after formation of new transitional government    World Bank approves $440 million for enhancing Egypt's railways    Saudi Arabia to lift most coronavirus-related curbs on Sunday: SPA    EXPLAINER: Why Ethiopia's deadly Tigray crisis is growing    Myanmar forces fire tear gas, stun grenades on protest as UN envoy calls for action    Tennis: Djokovic confirms return to Tour at Miami Open    Live score: Ahly (Egypt) vs. AS Vita Club (DR Congo) (African Champions League)    Egyptian president to visit Sudan on Saturday morning    Pope Francis holds historic meeting with Iraq's top Shia cleric    Egypt reports 579 new coronavirus cases; 45 deaths on Friday    61st Diyarna Exhibition: Showcasing Egyptian Handicrafts    Art House partners with Cultural Development Fund to present theatrical, musical shows    Egypt stresses necessity of launching 'serious' negotiation process to reach deal on GERD before flood season    Arab interests must be voiced unanimously to reflect unified will: Aboul Gheit    Egypt, Jordan, and Palestine reiterate call for halting Israeli settlement activities    Al-Sisi, Guinea-Bissau counterpart discuss counterterrorism, GERD negotiations    International Cooperation Ministry, AfDB sign development financing of €109m for rural Luxor sanitation services    Messi serves as bright spot in Barcelona's disastrous season    Zamalek ready with striking force against Esperance Tunis    Egypt clubs protest Football Association decision to cover costs of COVID-19 tests    Egypt on transformational path into regional energy trade centre: Petroleum Minister    Planning Ministry prioritises Upper Egypt development under coherent, integrated programme    Egypt's National Council for Women launches awareness campaign on nutrition education    Egypt, Sudan finalise agreement strengthening military cooperation    Yemen's Houthis fire missile at Saudi Aramco site in Jeddah    Hassan Allam wins contract to manage, operate Grand Egyptian Museum    March: The month of celebrating women    Egypt launches ‘Closing the Gender Gap Accelerator' action plan    Egyptian Journalists' Syndicate midterm elections postponed to 19 March    Preview: Zamalek hoping to maintain recent dominance over Tunisia's Esperance    Moody's completes periodic review of ratings of GIG Insurance – Egypt    Egypt improves ranking on Heritage Foundation's Index of Economic Freedom    A Happy Purrfect Rescue Story of 4 Cats in Thailand    Spotify competitor Anghami to become first Arab tech firm to list on Nasdaq, eyes plans for Egypt    Egypt's Zamalek arrive in Tunisia to face Esperance in CAF Champions League    Winston Churchill's Moroccan landscape painting owned by Angelina Jolie sells for $11.5M    Syrian pound hits new low in contagion from neighboring Lebanon's currency crisis    Orascom Construction to build Magdi Yacoub Global Heart Centre    Respect for diversity    Huawei launches HUAWEI FreeLace Pro in Egypt with extra-long battery life and top-grade noise cancellation    Enhanced Labs signs Mr. Olympia 2020 "Big Ramy" And His Trainer Dennis James    1st hours of registration for coronavirus vaccine seen 7,000 Egyptians signing up: ministry    King Tutankhamun funerary mask is must-see tourist icon: The Telegraph    Egypt eyes gradual return for tourism after revenues fall to $4 bln in 2020    Seasoned Egyptian screenwriter Wahid Hamed dies at 76    Coronavirus strikes Egypt's youth team as 17 players, coach test positive    Egypt, Ethiopia, Sudan to resume Nile dam talks today    







Thank you for reporting!
This image will be automatically disabled when it gets reported by several people.





The fall of the Capitol
Published in Ahram Online on 12 - 01 - 2021

The 6 January will remain a day to remember in the roughly 250-year history of the United States. It may be considered the day when the wall of the American sense of superiority, as far as the best democratic exercises are concerned, fell.
Protesters, pushed by a president who rejected the results of elections and called them “fraudulent,” rushed to occupy the US Capitol in Washington, yelling and breaking windows in a shocking and stereotypically third-world scene. Far-right supporters of outgoing US president Donald Trump broke all established norms, at least when it comes to one long-held view of the American people, climbing over the walls of the Capitol and taking photographs of themselves seated in the chair of the speaker of the US House of Representatives, among other shocking scenes that world watched live on television.
No one will be able to forget the image of one member of the mob carrying a lectern home as he strolled through the rotunda area of the House. At some moments, and unless one was quite sure that one was tuned into a US TV channel, such scenes might have been mistaken for those coming out of a banana republic. As one Kenyan newspaper put it in a sarcastic headline, “Who is the banana republic now?”
For decades, the US government, people and media have done their best to brainwash the minds of millions of people across the globe that US democracy is the best ever and that the US is the sole protector of human rights and the staunch defender of civil liberties and freedoms. While the US is a country of law and order, the US form of democracy is not the holy scripture that successive US administrations have advocated it as being. It is a system that appeals to people living in the US, through which they have succeeded in building a nation and a true superpower, but it remains an American experience that cannot be simply copied elsewhere.
Like a dictator clinging to power, Trump has plainly told his fellow Americans that the elections were “rigged” and that the US would be governed by an “illegitimate president” should his victorious opponent Joe Biden be inaugurated as president, triggering ridiculous conspiracy theories in which even “extraterrestrial beings” may have interfered in favour of his rival.
Shockingly, Trump wanted the US army to interfere in his favour, replacing his defence secretary with another to that end. Though he vowed that there would be an “orderly” transition of power to his successor, Trump has abstained from admitting defeat in public. While it is true that more than 74 million Americans voted for Trump, in any democratic exercise, as the US has taught the world many times, a single vote can make the difference, and such a vote should be honoured. This is true for all, except for the defeated US president.
Even so, the US media has often not honoured this “single vote” theory as far as the situation on non-American soil is concerned. On the contrary, it has put countries in the line of fire when its “fair-haired boy” has not been picked in a given election process, using the same language of “fraudulence” and “rigged elections” used by Trump.
This is how US media outlets have portrayed such incidents elsewhere on the globe, except in countries allied with the US. The US government and media have usually preached the necessity of “respecting” the right of “protesters” to express their views no matter how this “right” may be exercised, brushing aside any counter-arguments. They have also rejected any need to listen to the other side of the story, whether from the governments concerned or the peoples themselves, dubbing the first as “dictatorial” and the second as “sycophants”.
With last week's incidents taking place on American soil, the word “insurrection” has been employed, when this could easily have been replaced with “revolution” should other nations have been involved.
This is not a call for rehabilitating “autocracy,” but it is a call to heed the fact that Egyptians are culturally different from their opposite numbers in India, for example, and that the American way of doing business is not necessarily a standard. Even in the darkest moments in Egypt, prior or even after the fall of former president Hosni Mubarak in the 25 January Revolution, no one stormed into the Egyptian parliament, and no one tried to create a state of chaos matching the scenes of protesters putting the US Capitol under siege to prevent the ratification of the US presidential elections.
Many Egyptians may, however, recall a similar incident when, under the rule of former Muslim Brotherhood president Mohamed Morsi, his supporters placed Egypt's Supreme Constitutional Court under siege to prevent the justices from ruling on a challenge revoking the elections to the now renamed Senate, the upper chamber of the Egyptian parliament.
It is time the US media in particular and the Western media in general revisited their stereotyped and partial covering of affairs in the Middle East and Africa. Their biased news covering has given audiences a false image of how things are done in African or Middle Eastern nations. It is high time that American journalists and correspondents considered the other side of the story and fact-checked the news before they publish it.
Fact-checking is no fantasy – it is a must, particularly when assessing the damage partial news covering may inflict on peoples and nations. In their book Elements of Journalism, US journalists Bill Kovach and Tom Rosenstiel argue that the “first obligation of journalism is to the truth” and that the “journalistic truth” begins with a “professional discipline of assembling and verifying facts.” However, most US correspondents have usually not done this while covering news of Africa and the Middle East, except when it comes to Israel. Most, if not all, of their stories have not been committed to the principle of verification, and they have therefore wrongly affected the way their audiences perceive a given nation, its people or the political situation unfolding in it.
Reporting the truth is not synonymous with trumpeting it. Rather, it is a process that begins with the professional collecting of data, their verification, and then the inclusion of as many different views as possible. Instead of using the refrain that “we tried to reach so and so for comment, but there was no response,” there is a need to do all that can be done to give space to opposing views, since otherwise a reporter is opinionated and guides his or her audience in the wrong direction.
The tough language used by the US media and officials about the storming of the US Capitol last week is a reminder that fair rules of impartial news covering ought to be heeded when reporting on incidents happening on US territory or elsewhere.
The writer is a former press and information officer in Ethiopia and an expert on African affairs.

*A version of this article appears in print in the 14 January, 2021 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly.


Clic here to read the story from its source.