FAKE NEWS: Egyptians Enraged After BBC Report Quickly Falls Apart
I've just returned this past weekend from Cairo, where Egyptians today are seething at Western media after a BBC report aired on Saturday regarding Egypt's upcoming presidential elections.
The BBC report criticized Egypt's human rights record, claiming that political opponents had been "disappeared" by Egyptian authorities. However, the main subject of the report, who had allegedly been "disappeared," quickly showed up alive, well, living with her husband in Giza, and directly refuting the allegations made by the BBC.
Orla Guerin's report, entitled "The Shadow Over Egypt," had struck an ominous tone: "Egypt will elect a president next month. Opponents have been rounded up. Many have been jailed, tortured or disappeared."
Other Western media figures jumped in to defend the BBC report, including the New York Times' Cairo bureau chief:
Admittedly, there is much for Western media and countries to criticize regarding Egypt's human rights record. But many Egyptians see this episode as yet another instance of Western media hyping claims by the Muslim Brotherhood or Western NGOs of "disappearances" of activists. This was not the first time; other subjects were later arrested as parts of terror cells or for appearing in terrorist videos.
The BBC report led with the story of 23-year-old Zubeida. According to her family, she and her mother had been detained and tortured by the Egyptian government after participating in Muslim Brotherhood protests. Following their release, they were said to have disappeared altogether last April: Zubaida's mother claimed that armed and masked men showed up at the house and abducted her after throwing her into a police vehicle.
Soon, ONTV aired Zubeida herself being interviewed alongside her husband and newborn son, and directly refuting the allegations. During Zubeida's interview with Amr Adib of ONTV, she acknowledged that she and her mother had been detained. But she denied the allegations of torture and threats of rape. And rather than being abducted by police, Zubaida had been living in Giza with her husband (she presented their March 2017 marriage certificate) and had simply not been in communication with her mother for months over disagreements about her marriage:
So far, neither Orla Guerin nor the BBC has responded to Zubeida's interview, nor has a correction been posted to the 5,000-word story published on the BBC site.