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Egypt: The KFC Revolution

This post is part of our special coverage of Egypt Protests 2011.

Sign in the window of KFC on Tahrir Square during 5-day internet shutdown, reads 'We want Internet'. Photo by Joseph Hill on Flickr (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0).

Sign in the window of KFC on Tahrir Square during 5-day internet shutdown, reads ‘We want Internet’ Photo by Joseph Hill on Flickr (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

Egyptian bloggers have been commenting on the Egyptian regime's use of state-owned television channels and newspapers for their own political purposes. The influence of the media on the people is particularly important in a situation like the one currently unfolding in Egypt where opposing parties have entirely different interests.

Zeinobia writes about mainstream media in Egypt and how it is dealing with the ongoing events there:

In the past few days the mainstream media in Egypt has adopted the official public version of the story of what is happening in the country except very few outlets like Al Shorouk Daily and Daily News Egypt in particular. It is something we understand and we expected as the most of the mainstream media outlets have not dared yet to speak freely against Mubarak…

She continues:

The Egyptian TV is spreading lies about foreign reporters claiming that the country is full of foreign elements including Israeli spies, they claim that these foreign elements are infiltrating our country now. The people in the street are scared and suspicious. You can’t imagine how many foreign journalists or foreign citizens were attacked and harassed in the street due to this claim.

Another Egyptian blogger, The Egyptian Silent Majority [ar], has given more examples of what have been going on in the Egyptian media in the past days:

بدأت تتضح خطة (فرق تسد) الذي اتبعها الإعلام الحكومي بقيادة السيد أنس الفقي.
مكالمات تليفونية اقل ما يقال عنها انها في منتهى السذاجة ….استغاثات من ربات بيوت يعانون من نقص الحليب و المياه من السوبر ماركت…!!
سيدة تتصل بالقناة الأولى و تشكو ان ابنتها الطفة تستيقظ من النوم (مفزوعة) عايزة بابا….عايزة بابا…و بابا طبعا في لجنة شعبية في الشارع…..!!
ناس مبهمة بلا حيثية تعلن انهم كانوا من المشاركين بل و المؤسسين لثورة 25 يناير و اليوم يعلنون تبرئهم مما يحدث…فالتحرير لم يعد ملكا لهم بل ملكا للإخوان…!!
بالإضافة طبعا الى تلميحات و تصريحات حول وجود (اجندات) خارجية يحملها هؤلاء القوم المعتصمون في التحرير و الذين هم ليسوا بمصريين …فهم مجموعة من (آكلي الكنتاكي) (القابضين ) بالدولار…!!

The divide-and-conquer plan that has been implemented by state-owned media, under the supervision of the Egyptian minister of information, is becoming clearer now.

There are phone calls, very stupid ones, where women are heard crying because of the lack of milk and water and basic supplies in the supermarkets!

A woman calls the Egyptian TV Channel-1 complaining because her daughter wakes up at night scared and asks for her father, who for sure at that time is in the street protecting their house along with their neighbours who are also protecting their houses because of escaped prisoners and the overstretched police!

Anonymous people state that they were participating in the 25 January revolution, but have now quit because the Muslim Brotherhood are currently occupying Tahrir Square!

Add to all this the claims that protesters have foreign agendas; they aren't Egyptians, just a group of ‘KFC eaters’ who are paid in dollars.

Fried chicken and foreign agendas

You may be wondering, what is the significance of “KFC eaters”?

According to the Egyptian blogger and writer Ahmed Khaled Tawfik, one phone caller to Egyptian television said that he had witnessed protesters eating from the famous American fried chicken restaurant chain Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC), which led him to believe this was proof enough that they were traitors. Tawfik mocks the KFC situation here [ar]:

هناك عشرات الاتصالات من مواطنين يؤكدون في ذكاء أن المتظاهرين يأكلون (الكنتاكي) وهذا دليل على أن لديهم أجندات خارجية!.. هذا اعتراف ضمني بأنه لا يمكن لواحد من الشعب المصري الآن أن يأكل الكنتاكي ما لم يكن عميلاً للخارج !!
Tens of phone calls have been received by the television channel, whereby callers made the smart point that they had seen the protesters eating from KFC, and that this was proof that they have foreign agendas. They seem to believe that no one can eat from the American chain without being an agent of foreign forces.
They claim that protesters have foreign agendas...

They claim that protesters have foreign agendas… Here is one! From Gr33nblr

The ‘KFC situation’ and the so-called “foreign agendas” are fast becoming the protesters’ joke of choice. Tawfik wonders further:

ملأ أذهانهم بالأجندات الخاصة وعملاء الموساد وحزب الله والمخابرات المركزية الذين تحالفوا للمرة الأولى في التاريخ لإسقاط النظام. لا أعرف كيف يتحالف الموساد مع حزب الله وحماس لكن الإعلام مصر على أن هذا حدث
It has filled people's minds with thoughts of hidden agendas – the agents of Mossad, Hezbollah, and CIA allied for the first time in history to take the Egyptian regime down. I do not know how Mossad has allied with Hezbollah and Hamas, but the media insists that this has happened.

Alternative truths

The media have also been playing with the numbers being reported. You can see in the tweets below the differences between the numbers of deaths in protests reported by the Egyptian government, the United Nations and the Al Jazeera television news channel:

@Abdu: Egyptian government says 11 killed in the protests but the UN estimates the number at more than 300. AJ says more than 100

Al Jazeera's coverage has being widely attacked by the Egyptian media. It was even ordered by Egypt's information ministry to shut down its operations in the country last week, and later in the day Al Jazeera's signal to some parts of the Middle East was cut.

Egyptian anchor woman Shahira Amin from state-owned Nile TV resigned in protest over her channel's coverage. Meanwhile, Egyptian blogger Noha Atef, has blamed foreign news channels such as Sky News for sticking too close to Egyptian state television's side of the story:

@NohaAtef: If only @SkyNewsBreak stop quoting #Egypt state TV and look to #Tahrir! Sunday mass is being performed there… yes, on Tharir! #jan25

Once Egypt was back online last week after a 5-day Internet blackout, people were able to use social media to describe events as they really saw them. Videos like the ones showing a police van that slams into protesters in the streets of Cairo and police forces killing an unarmed Egyptian civilian, are being shared online. Nonetheless it is hard to to compete with traditional media in country where about one third of the population is still illiterate.

Hassan Hamed is one of those people who is trying to use his Twitter account to counter claims made by the Egyptian media.

@seksek: أنا حاشتغل الصبح و آتظاهر بالليل لحد ما يرحل، مش المتظاهرين اللي وقفوا حال البلد

@seksek: I will work in the morning and demonstrate at night till he leaves. Demonstrations aren't responsible for the lack of supplies and bad economy.

@seksek: المتظاهرين ماقطعوش النت والتليفون وماهربوش المساجين ولا حرقوا الأقسام ، اللي بيحرر مابيهدش

@seksek: The demonstrators are not the ones who cut down the Internet and telephone lines, they aren't the ones who helped prisoners to escape from their prisons, and they didn't burn the police stations. The one who is looking for freedom isn't the one who ruins his country.

@seksek: والناس اللي مش مصدقة يوم 25 و 26 و 27 كانت أيام شغل، وكان فيه مظاهرات، مأوقفش حال البلد إلا النظام بغباوته

@seksek: And for those who do not believe me, on the 25th, 26th and 27th of January, there were protests, people went to their work and life went on normally till the regime intervened.

This post is part of our special coverage of Egypt Protests 2011.

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