Another distraction has come up from the Egyptian state-owned al-Ahram newspaper claiming that "romantic songs" have been banned from being aired on the state’s 23 television channels and only patriotic tunes will be allowed due to the “current situation in Egypt.” This takes me back to tens of similar news pieces from the same newspaper which had no point at all except for distracting the people from the current struggle and the “current situation in Egypt.”
This is not the first time for the Egyptian Radio and Television Union (ERTU) to come up with such pointless, ambiguous and trivial decisions aiming to distract the public from an ongoing political struggle. In May 2011 amidst the struggle against the Superior Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF), a similar piece of news regarding orders from Sami El-Sherif –Head of the ERTU- to ban all scenes with kisses or hugs from old and new movies on 6 of the governmental channels, which of course became one of the main topics of discussion on all talk shows leaving behind less time for discussing important issues such as military trials, torture cases and the lack of security on the streets due to the police's absence.
This time, the ERTU has taken it one step further by not only banning “romantic songs” and shifting musical programs to be aired after 2 am but also it was mentioned in the news piece that some songs that have names within their lyrics which might be used as a satirical reference to politicians or politics in general will also be banned. They mentioned a song from the early 1900s that I have never heard on TV just to say that it will be banned because of having the name “Ismail” in it suggesting that it can be used to mock the Salafi political figure Hazem Salah Abu-Ismail, this is something that I, personally, do not understand.
To be clear, I am not suggesting taking any debate off the table and deeming it unworthy of discussion, but it is also unreasonable to leave the political turmoil in Egypt concerning the constitution, the judiciary and prosecution mess that is about to get worse just to focus on our basic demands for free media that is paid for by Egyptian tax payers.
Some members of the last parliament to get dissolved used to follow the same strategy to distract the public from the main demands of the revolution (bread, freedom and social justice) by bringing up infeasible issues that would also waste a lot of money such as blocking pornography over the internet and lowering the age of marriage from 18 to 9 years old. Those issues always come up whenever we start demanding reforms in the ministry of interior or dissolving the ministry of media communications to have the real free media we deserve instead of the oriented biased state media which we still have until this day.
Whether it is local or international media, it is always the same issue when it comes to the exaggerated attention given to such decisions; but the problem is that it is always hard to find room to analyze such issues, and the question remains, can they actually go ahead with enforcing such policies if they failed to distract the people from their decisions?
Last time I checked, Egypt had a rich history of using patriotic songs to play on the public’s emotions and gain more support for the regime. The same regime whose censorship was responsible for the creation of an underground musical movement to counteract it. Since Mubarak had been ousted, the TV never stopped songs about “building the country” suggesting that protesting and calling for strikes when needed is a bad thing or songs about how “the revolution succeeded and it is over” let us now build the country.
Witnessing Egyptian media as it still uses such strategies to direct the public opinion towards the regime’s interests is the main point that makes me believe that the revolution never ended and that it will still take a long time to reach the point when I would write about how the revolution succeeded after all this struggle.
(Mina Naguib is a commentator on Egyptian affairs and blogs at justanegyptian.com. Twitter: @MinaNaguib90)