Tidbits of Arabic News translated into English

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

The Egyptian Show-down: BBC Arabic vs BBC in English news

It's very interesting to see the contrast between the BBC Arabic coverage and the regular BBC in English coverage. I mean, you wouldn’t even know they are basically the same news source. 

This is in regards to the violent take-down of the Muslim Brotherhood camps in Cairo by the military government.

First, the BBC Arabic: it gives much more coverage to the existence of weapons at the protest camps, the burning of churches allegedly by Muslim Brotherhood members, and the casualty figures it uses are around 150 dead (from the Egyptian Ministry of Health). And the reporters keep mentioning the fact that the Muslim Brotherhood was uncooperative, refused dialogue, and always wanted its way or the highway while it was in power. They brought out that the Muslim Brotherhood was condemned by international bodies for using women and children as human shields in its protest camps. The news reels did show MB people lying in the hospital and looking very miserable, and with their legs strung up in hospital ropes, and people lying on the pavement being tended to; but there were no up-close shots of blood. There was a close-up of a guy walking rather dazedly holding a cloth onto his skull, but you could not see the blood that the cloth was stemming. They showed coverage of the arms and ammunition recovered from the camps (the MB, of course, saying that those weapons were all planted.) They played the press conferences of both a State Department spokesman, and remarks by John Kerry later in the day, first live, and then repeated frequently. Both of those speakers said the government has the greater responsibility to show restraint and move away from violence, etc. The BBC Arabic coverage interviewed tons of MB people all day long. All these spokesmen would talk of their estimate of 2000 dead, and deny they’re burning churches, etc, etc, so their side of the story was told, but of course they were challenged over everything they said.

The BBC in English paints a very different picture (at least the website, I’m not watching the BBC in English TV). It gives dominance to the fact that the MB was democratically elected; that the international condemnation of the protest clearance has been massive and swift; it cites the MB casualty reports of 2000 dead instead of the government report of 150 (so which is it?)  There’s two headlines right at the top: “US warns Egypt ‘World is watching’” and “Complete terror on the streets.” There’s lots of pictures bloodied protestors, one with blood on his face. I think that blood on a face is always  more gruesome than just blood on a leg or arm. The church burnings are barely mentioned, you have to scroll down quite a bit on the main article.

In conclusion, I think the BBC in English coverage paints the military government as bad and the Muslim Brotherhood as innocent, martyred angels; and while the BBC Arabic also makes the military government look bad, they temper this view somewhat by making the Muslim Brotherhood appear as devious, cheating sneaks.

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