On June 7, two videos featuring advertisements aired on Egyptian State TV and private channels have been uploaded by YouTube user Marooofriday, warning Egyptian citizens of talking to foreigners who may want to harm the country's interests.
The first ad portrays a group of young Egyptians who are being approached by a “foreigner” in a cafe, and to whom they start complaining about the political situation in Egypt.
The second one shows a man filling a job application online, providing personal information [English transcript for both videos here]. After commenting, the voice-over ends with the same slogan; “Every word has a price. A word saves a nation.”
A Twitter account apparently expressing the views of the Egyptian Military explained the reasons of such a campaign:
@Military_Secretمعنى الإعلانات الإستخباراتية | لا لصداقة أي شخص يبني علاقته معاك على أساس معرفة أحوال البلد ، لأنه في الخطوة الجاية حيستخدمك عشان يعرف الأهمMeaning of the intelligence ads: No to a friendship with someone who wants to build his relationship with you by knowing the affairs of the country because his next step will be to use you to learn more important information.
@Military_Secretالموساد الإسرائيلي على موقعه بالانترنت عارضين وظائف شاغرة وطالبين معلومات الشخص عشان يبدأ الجهاز بتتبعه ، ولذالك قامت مصر بحظر الموقعThe Israeli Mossad offer job vacancies on their website, asking personal information from the applicant with the purpose of tracking him, it is the reason why the website has been blocked in Egypt.
Egyptians immediately reacted on Twitter under the hashtags #Really [Arabic hashtag #ريلي ] and #إعلان_الجواسيس [which translates to the Spy ad].
Many Twitter users ridiculed the ads:
@DaliaEzzat_ State media fail. They don't want us talking to foreign strangers. “Really!” #Conspiracytheoristsgalore
@Amristo Dear Mossad and CIA! Kindly be informed that your plots against SCAF are exposed. Sincerely, Egypt State TV.
@egyfanzعاجل : اجتماع سري بين المخابرات الامريكية والاسرائيلية وذلك لبحث تغيير طريقة عمل الجواسيس في مصر بعد كشف التليفزيون المصري لهمBreaking: Secret meeting between American and Israeli intelligence services in order to set up new spying methods after they have been exposed by Egyptian TV.
@EhabEltorky الامن فى البلد فى الضياع والسياحة واقعة وشيكولاتة تويكس سعرها زاد بس احنا مش بنقول على تويتر عشان ديه اسرار البلدSpies_Ad: The security in the country is dire, tourism is at its lowest and the price of Twix chocolate has been increased, but we won't talk about it on Twitter because these are the country's secrets.
Others, however, took the matter more seriously and blamed the military regime for aiming to feed the feeling of insecurity that could lead to the election of former Prime Minister Ahmed Shafik during the second round.
@shamshunaلكي يزرع الخوف من التحدث ف السياسه في قلوب الناس مره اخريSpies Ad: how to sow in people's hearts the fear of political discussions one more time.
@TheBigPharaoh State TV's “spies” commercial does nothing except destroy Egyptians’ well known hospitality and kindness towards foreigners.
@NPSusa This sounds like the ads US ran during WWII, “Loose Lips Sink Ships”. Does SCAF think Egypt is at war with the world?
Blogger Zeinobia expressed her worries in a blog post:
I fear that this ad is an introduction for a campaign against human rights activists and journalists from abroad so they will not cover the upcoming crackdown against the Muslim brotherhood as well revolutionary powers and groups if Shafik is elected as a president.
Well everything comes with a price, the media convinced the public in Egypt that the Muslim Brotherhood will destroy the tourism industry because of their conservatism and now we will see how the tourism will flourish with xenophobic TV campaigns and upcoming security crackdowns against activists and political opponents.