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A poster of deposed president Mohamed Morsi  reads "Yes to legitimacy." at a protest camp of his supporters cleared by security forces in Cairo August 14, 2013. (Reuters)

This week witnessed some of the worst violence in Egypt since the armed forces removed Mohamed Morsi, Egypt’s first freely elected president, from power in early July.  As the death toll rises – as many as 500 were reported dead Thursday – observers are not only focusing on the role the military and security forces played in this latest bloody chapter of Egypt’s revolution, but are also honing in on how the Egyptian media, both state and private, might have contributed to polarizing the Egyptian population.

Thursday morning – just minutes before U.S. President Obama spoke out on the violence in Egypt, VOA reporter Cecily Hilleary spoke with Gehad El-Haddad, a senior advisor to the ousted president’s Freedom and Justice Party and spokesman for the Muslim Brotherhood.  She asked him for his thoughts.

Below please find transcribed highlights of the interview. You can listen to it in full using the audio player at the bottom of this post.

El-Haddad:  I still can’t understand the fixation of the media of this being pro Morsi or anti-Morsi.  This ended being about Morsi since the coup.  This is now a choice of returning to a military dictatorship and losing our way forward since the January 25th revolution—or struggling with an inexperienced democracy while sticking by it until it delivers fruition.

Gehad El-Haddad

Hilleary:  The media has been accused in Egypt—on all sides—of playing a role in polarizing people, and we are seeing unprecedented polarization in Egypt.  What role did media have in bringing about this tragic violence we’ve seen today?

El-Haddad: Once media drops its job and becomes a spin and ruler machine, it inflicts harm on all sides.  It dislodges information; it spreads misinformation through rumors; it increases hate and polarization, and that’s exactly what happened.  Once it starts on one end, the other end cannot respond [except] by actually doing the same thing, and it keeps going through that cycle.   If I was to blame anyone in Egypt for the mess that we are in at the moment since the President’s election, I would blame the media and all media professionals in Egypt.  The level of journalistic integrity has sunk to extents where they are creating fictional rumors and spreading them for months.

Hilleary:  Are all sides of the media to blame in this?

El-Haddad:  Of course.

Hilleary:  So, for example, what are some of the kinds of things we’ve seen in state media that you believe have helped incite some of this?  Examples.

El-Haddad:  The main example that would come to mind—and specifically when looking at some of these soldiers that have psychologically come to the understanding that it’s okay for them to kill and literally pick off the streets bodies of hundreds of supporters, peaceful supporters that have nothing to show but their empty hands, shouting in front of them to stop their killing.  We’ve seen the photos and videos.  There were no weapons.  There was no violence.  But the reason that they [security officers] were able to kill so easily and so calmly is because throughout the past couple of weeks, the media has literally charged them with the image that these are hateful supporters, that these are   people of violence, that these are terrorists, with nothing to stand for except the claim that the media kept pushing.  No evidence, no journalistic work, no investigations, nothing at all.

And our sit-ins were open.  We always invited international human rights agencies, and despite that, the claims of torture and violence and killings have been rampant across most Egyptian media and many international media, with no evidence whatsoever to support it—except the hearsay of the police forces in the Egypt and their so-called investigations.

Hilleary:  Now we are hearing, for example, demonstrators in Giza today have attacked and set fire to a government building.  There is an argument that all of this violence could have been prevented had people just stayed home.  The military warned that this crackdown was coming.

The one mistake that we did in 1954 is that we trusted the military and we left the streets.  We don’t intend to do so now.   I would rather die hoping to achieve a country that is founded on democracy, on freedom, on human rights, than live in fear in my household under a military dictatorship for a new cycle of 60 years.  I’ve tried that before.  I don’t want my son or daughter to go through that.  If it means I have to put my life on the line, I will. And there are thousands more like me among the Egyptian youth.

El-Haddad:  For some reason, many dropped the fact that the military coup happened.  Are we supposed to give up our freedom for gaining security?  That is the ultimate argument of any despotic regime.  And we have said, “No.  We will stand in front of the military group in the streets, peacefully protesting, exercising our rights of protest and assembly, until we reverse that military coup.”

We know what comes next.  They are going through the same manuscript that they did in 1954.  In a couple of hours, in 12 hours, they killed over 4,000 people across all Egypt. We had never had that level of a massacre in Egypt.  That butchering was unprecedented.  And they are going [now] on the same path.  We know what’s next.  So we are going to stand peacefully in their line.  We cannot be responsible for everything that goes wrong in the country.  It was the military coup that went wrong, and with it, a string of political instability that keeps on expanding.

The Muslim Brotherhood sticks to its peacefulness, sticks to its nonviolent movement and asks its supporters to do the same, and anyone in its circles. But at the same time, yesterday’s blow killed our central coordination.  Now  — unintelligible – and we are calling on people to remain peaceful and not act on their own.  The violence is happening everywhere.  I’m amazed that the police forces would leave the vandalizers [sic] that went and burnt mosques and churches and go focus on killing and arresting protesters!  They are still, as I’m speaking to you know, arresting injured protesters from hospitals on claims of torture and murder, when they themselves are made murderers and torturers.

Hilleary:  So what’s next?  You’re looking back to 1954, are you anticipating a bloodbath?

El-Haddad:  No.  The one mistake that we did in 1954 is that we trusted the military and we left the streets.  We don’t intend to do so now.   I would rather die hoping to achieve a country that is founded on democracy, on freedom, on human rights, than live in fear in my household under a military dictatorship for a new cycle of 60 years.  I’ve tried that before.  I don’t want my son or daughter to go through that.  If it means I have to put my life on the line, I will. And there are thousands more like me among the Egyptian youth.  When the generation made the January 25th revolution – a way to stand in the street and defend their country.

Hilleary:  You said at the outset of this interview that this is no longer about the Muslim Brotherhood versus the military.  Do you have any sense of how many people have joined your side, anti-coup?  What kind of numbers are we talking here?

El-Haddad:  No.  We have no sense. But seeing as what happened yesterday, the clashes in almost all governates in Egypt, the thousands on the street.  They were not aired by all media.  But social media covered it extensively.  And a few media like Al Jazeera covered it as well.  Thousands, thousands of people everywhere in the streets.  I don’t know who these people are or how they came about.  But many of them lost loved ones, as I hear, in Rabaa and other other cities.  They are connected to the cause now.   And the cause has been sealed in blood.  Unbreakable.

Hilleary:  One last question for you:  How satisfied are you with the international response so far.

El-Haddad:  Not satisfied.  The media has been strong in declaring that this is a coup from the beginning and in asking their leaders to show respect to the principles that they uphold as democratic countries.  The leaders have failed, unfortunately.  Nothing more than condemnation and strong words.  And the one leadership, the one country – the U.S. – that holds real power and real control over the Egyptian army with its U.S. aid has constantly been saying that they are not going to change their position and they are going to continue financing such a terror machine that is only good for killing and now, it’s killing its own citizens.

Hilleary:  I think the U.S. has left its options open.  President Obama is scheduled to speak in a few minutes and we’ll all be listening anxiously to what he has to say.

El-Haddad:  I hope the president says more wiser [sic]words than the words we’ve heard from Secretary Kerry about military coups bringing about democracies. This is not the democracy that we wanted, and I certainly don’t think that any political scientist in the world is going to call this a democracy being brought over by a military coup.

Listen to Cecily Hilleary’s full interview with Gehad El-Haddad:

Cecily Hilleary

Cecily began her reporting career in the 1990s, covering US Middle East policy for Dubai-TV English. She has lived and/or worked in the Middle East, North Africa and Gulf regions, consulting and producing for several regional radio and television networks and production houses, including MBC, Al-Arabiya, the former Emirates Media Incorporated and Al-Ikhbaria. She brings to VOA and MEV a keen understanding of the region's top social, cultural and political issues.

19 Comments

  1. adel

    August 25, 2013

    The question is why Taliban and Qaeda are supporting #Mursi and #Muslim_Brotherhood in #Egypt ?
    Die Frage ist, warum Taliban und Qaida unterstützen Morsi und Muslim-Bruderschaft in ?gypten?
    La question est de savoir pourquoi les Talibans soutiennent Morsi et les Frères musulmans en Egypte ?

    Reply
  2. adel

    August 25, 2013

    Let the world know that Egyptians don’t want the Terrorists to be living among us and free. Let world know that Obama’s government finances them. Obama can have them!
    God bless Egypt and the Egyptians .. always on the streets demonstrating against the Terrorists and their supporters

    Reply
  3. adel

    August 25, 2013

    WHO IS WITH THE TERRORISTS?
    The facts are clear. We need to fight the terrorists and terrorism. You are either with the terrorists or with the Egyptian People.
    We expect that more than 20 Millions will go out again tomorrow on the streets all over Egypt to support the army morally and give the “Green Light” to the Military and the Police to fight terrorism with an iron fist. The Egyptian People will be going out to demonstrate peacefully but we expect possible clashes with the terrorists.
    And when it comes to our national security, please don’t talk to us about human rights. Terrorists on a global scale are here to kill not to co-exist.
    You are either with the Egyptian People or with the Terrorists.

    Reply
  4. adel

    August 25, 2013

    Obama’s Brother: Muslim Brotherhood Leader?
    Obama weak against Muslim Brotherhood …
    Speaking recently on Bitna al-Kibir, a live TV show, Tahani al-Gebali, Vice President of the Supreme Constitutional Court in Egypt, said the time was nearing when all the conspiracies against Egypt would be exposed—conspiracies explaining why the Obama administration is so vehemently supportive of the Muslim Brotherhood, whose terrorism has, among other atrocities, caused the destruction of some 80 Christian churches in less than one week.
    Al-Gebali referred to “documents and proofs” which Egypt’s intelligence agencies possess and how “the time for them to come out into the open has come.” In the course of her discussion on how these documents record massive financial exchanges between international bodies and the Muslim Brotherhood, she said: “Obama’s brother is one of the architects of investment for the international organization of the Muslim Brotherhood.”

    Reply
  5. Ali Baba

    August 21, 2013

    if you said that Muslim brotherhood abandon violence ,you are wrong. .by observation the news for last two years ,they are committed to violence, they used lynched, they kill four Shia. they converted Sinai into terrorist zone. do you think that people are idiot to believe you that Muslim brotherhood are a peaceful people .the only way to deal with them is put them in jail to save lives and stop destroying the country

    Reply
  6. Ibrahim Siddiqui

    August 20, 2013

    Ali Baba This isn't 1954. It's 2013; MB renounced violence decades ago and have succeeded in winning 2 consecutive elections. The people weren't blind then for sure!! Ah yes the Army wasn;t shutting down media and information like the Army is. Any institution which needs to shut information/media has already lost the war!!!

    Reply
  7. tranmrk

    August 18, 2013

    Obviously terrorists are the army, the govt. it installed and the judiciary who are together killing innocent Egyptians. This current state terrorism must be faced and brought to justice in a way that they would never rise again.

    Reply
  8. Farah

    August 17, 2013

    Muslim brotherhood is the legitimately democratically elected party..the US supported Egyptian army has butchered and slaughtered innocent women and children.It is shameful that all these Islamaphobes are actually standing by and supporting this naked barbarism and massacre by the army.The brotherhood has been peaceful and enjoy the overwhelming support of the majority..the media propaganda against the brotherhood is vicious and malicious lies spread by the killer , murdering army generals.The world should speak out against the murder of humanity, condemn this unprecedented slaughter..

    Reply
    • Ali Baba

      August 18, 2013

      what you said is a big liar

      Reply
  9. Ali Baba

    August 17, 2013

    yes .I read the history of Muslim brotherhood thugs. I know their history since 1954 when they shot Nasser and try to assassinated him. They open the mosque and change into gas chamber by beating and tutored any one against them .they attack peaceful protester .they attack women . they are criminal .

    Reply
  10. David Rubin Macrermott

    August 17, 2013

    Cecily Hilleary, your questions are not leading the interviewer enough, and therefor leading nowhere. When the Muslim Brotherhood representative claimed he lamented the burning of mosques and Christian churches by vandalizers were not dealt with by the authorities but instead concentrated on arresting Mursi's supporters, you kept quiet instead of pointing out to El Hadadad.."You seem to point fingers at the non-MB culprits for the attacks on the churches. That the Christians said it's the MB mobs who fire-bombed their churches?" But I understand you were there not to carry out your journalistic duty but to earn your living. Come to think of it, you have done nothing wrong. You're there to ask questions not argue with the wisdom of the Muslim Brotherhood's protests or continue to protest. Still, my two-cent is your questions could be better. You wasted every body's time. If I were you I would ask the El hadaddad why the MB kept saying they or their protests were peaceful and non-violent when in fact they were the opposite. Arms caches were found in or near the sit-in camps. Of course, El Hadadad could explain they were for protection only – not shoot anybody! You also forgot to ask El Hadadad. Why the Muslim Brotherhood kept saying they wouldn't stop protesting unless and until Mursi was reinstated as president when they knew it's not going to happen? So, if it didn't happen they're going to keep protesting forever? Do they know that the country's economy would be destroyed? Well, I guess, that's all you could do. Or any western journalists would or could do, in that matter. During the West's intervention in Libya to topple a head of state they didn't like, the western media performed flawlessly. Or shall we say, up to expectation! Your report (interview) jogged my memory back to the see-sawing battles between Col. Qaddafi's loyalist army and the Benghazi rebels. Reports of daily deaths of civilians were solely blamed on Qaddafi forces, no one else. The most outstanding of western reporters in the Libyan conflict then were Richard Enggel and Stephanie Gosk. Both didn't report a single casualty from the round-the-clock bombing by NATO planes using the most sophisticated ordnance ever produced. If that sounds odd, listen to this:…"today another forty innocent Libyans were massacred by government forces in Misrata…more than a hundred Libyans died violently believed killed by Qaddafi loyalists.. 300 hundreds.. five hundreds.. they kept churning out the lies. And their bylines were…" according to Benghazi rebels…according to report by a rebel.. according to…Can you believe it? After more than 18,000 sorties of 24/7 bombings by Rafael fighters, Harrier Jumjets and F15 fighter-bombers – which they proudly announced to have chalked up – no Libyan had died? I am surprised these reporters could live a happy life after they helped President Obama, David Cameron and Nicholas Sarkozy to get away with murders – without feeling any guilt? Perhaps they had been lied to and actually saw no Libyans died? Were they kidding? Even if those planes were loaded not with the best ordnance available, but with stones or rocks, and unloaded them over the towns and villages 24/7, thousands would have been injured and dead. But funny..very few reports of deaths, except those killed by Qaddafi's security forces. Back to Egypt, the Muslim Brotherhood…yes..er.. the interview. Of course, Cecily Hilleary is not Stepanie Gosk. But I am afraid both are like-minded. They tend to side with Islamist forces rather than secular forces. They and their bosses The New York Time, The Washington Post or NBC, to name a few. All support the Muslim Brotherhood. Just like their president, Obama. According to them, the MB didn't do anything wrong or capable of doing wrong. "Allow the Muslim Brotherhood to protest," they say. What's wrong with that as long as their protests are peaceful. Are they? Protest for what? Are they subscribing to the Muslims Brotherhood's demand that Mursi be reinstated as president? And the over-night-drafted MB-friendly constitution restored along with the Shura Council? They (the MB) knew they blew their once in a life time chances, and should stop hankering for the reinstatement of their deposed president. It's not going to happen. Likewise, the western press or leaders should stop stoking the Muslim Brotherhood fire. They should not forget the rights of the majority Egyptians, too. Statements like… "If the MB leaders realized non-violence got them no where, they might resort to violence, and they have the numbers…"…were not helpful.

    Reply
  11. democratic_victim

    August 17, 2013

    military media is spinning MB as terrorists in Egyptian and world media. common Egyptians cannot speak their mind again because of activation of secret service and minders. the reality is only these protests where we see people coming out in large numbers throughougt Egypt these protestors are not necessarily MB members. that shows that people have realized that democracy is getting out of hand and military is turning its grip back on the civil society.

    Reply
    • Ali Baba

      August 17, 2013

      they are Muslim brotherhood thugs. they have been paid to revolt and destroy the country. .are you trying to tell me that muslim brotherhood is for democracy . what type of democracy?they want destroy the country. they are idiot ,fanatic and they do not what they are doing. islam is not solution.islam is prescription for disater

      Reply
    • Egyptian

      August 19, 2013

      all of you son of bitch and liars

      Reply
  12. Aqeel Ahmed Subhani

    August 16, 2013

    Mr. Ali baba, Please read history with googles of justice, then only you can able to know Muslim Bortherhood real image, they are real egyptian and real soldiers of egypt who save egypt not only from israel but also from many dicatators, and you baseless persons who don't no history comments on like this spiritual and dedicated persons, Fear to GOD, and fear to life after death……………Offcourse everybody have to die one day………………….

    Reply
  13. Ali Baba

    August 16, 2013

    Obama has to get some education about Muslim brotherhood behavior before he jumped into conclusion.

    Reply
  14. Ali Baba

    August 16, 2013

    No sympathy for Muslim brotherhood. people who were Killed because Muslim brotherhood started the violence.

    Reply
  15. Ali Baba

    August 16, 2013

    El hadaddad , the spokesman for Muslim brotherhood is a pathological liar.He is using deception and false information for an organization that have long history of violence. The fact that Mubarak was a good presidents.unfortunately the overpopulation and lack of resources have caused of extreme hardships for ordinary Egyptian.the Egyptian revolt. the Muslim brotherhood attacked prison and release prisoners. they instigate violence that ended to overthrow Mubarak. they used a sneak strategy and finally get in power and moersi become a presidents. the fanatic converted the country into nightmare and corruption increased and use religion to eliminate everyone oppose them.the violence become a normal scene for Egyptian. Incidents of lynching. it is a barbaric methods to kill where the victim was beaten to death. four Shia killed as a sheep when a hindered fanatic thugs beaten them to death. the fanatic has a license to kill. minority Christian fled the country after their shops attacked , girls kidnapped and sold as sex slave to Saudi. the discontent t reach high level.The Egyptian went to the street and said we do not want them. the normal reaction that Muslim brotherhood has to accept the reality and give chance to new Gov. to start clear the mess that was created by Muslim brotherhood. the Muslim brotherhood choose violence to disturb the country and created chaos.the army has to do right thing and stop them by any means necessary. the death is a result of Muslim brotherhood action to attack police and army then they cry for the people who died and gain sympathy. THE CRACKDOWNIS JUSTIFIED.

    Reply
  16. Abdifatah Mohamed Tarabi

    August 16, 2013

    we are very sorry.

    Reply

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