Saturday 6 July 2013

Muslim Brotherhood: Good or bad?

Comparing the reporting of the Egyptian army's killing of pro-Morsi protesters near the HQ of the Republican Guard yesterday evening showed that reporters from both the BBC and ITV had a similar take on the course of the violence. 

After Friday prayers, a breakaway group of aggrieved Muslim Brotherhood marchers arrived at the army headquarters and, in time, began to become angrier. They were met by a military which started with a speech welcoming peaceful protest but warning the protesters against coming closer, then began firing warning shots and tear gas as the crowd grew more aggressive, then began firing live ammunition directly into the crowd, one man being killed immediately. In the process, the BBC crew - including Jeremy Bowen - suffered minor injuries. 

The contrast between the coverage, from what I saw of it (an important qualification, of course), is that Jeremy Bowen's reports framed the incident with a description of the depth of the Muslim Brotherhood's roots in Egyptian society while ITV News's John Irvine gave a much less sympathetic assessment of the Brotherhood (on their main early evening bulletin). 

Jeremy Bowen
These are deeply religious people. Over generations since it was founded in 1928, the Muslim Brotherhood has built loyalty by providing the closest the poor of Egypt have had to a welfare state - medical care, legal help and religious guidance. 
There are powerful forces arrayed against each other in this country. On one hand the Muslim Brotherhood, with deep roots in the community, can put a lot of people onto the streets; on the other the army, seized control of the country and wants to hold it.
John Irvine
I have to say the Muslim Brotherhood may have renounced violence years ago but it's guilty of sending out mixed messages. In was always highly unlikely that a 'Day of Rage' would end peacefully. Also they've been trying to incite Islamic groups to go on the offensive and some of these groups are now armed to the teeth. They've got weapons out of post-revolutionary Libya and from the Gaza Strip. 
Now that's a train of thought I've not heard (or read) expressed by any BBC reporter. Have you?

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