Analysis Egypt’s ‘Newspeak’ Masks Public’s Perception of Israel

Ahmed Kahwaji is a teaching assistant at Alexandria University and a doctoral student at the University of Poitiers in France. He also periodically contributes to the Egyptian website Mada Masr, whose op-eds tread the fine line between the permitted and the forbidden.
His latest article, “The Egyptian ‘1984’: A war on words,” is about the newspeak that has taken over Egypt’s public discourse since President Abdel-Fattah al-Sissi took power. Among other things, he mocks the phrase “Long live Egypt,” which has become the government’s slogan – as if only this government could ensure Egypt’s continued existence.

Another phrase is “human rights.” In the terms of the debate dictated by the government, it has become a synonym for treason, since human rights organizations “invite” international intervention and funding to Egypt to hurt their country – that is, the government.
“Patriotism” means preserving the nation’s assets, especially its territory. But when the government decided to transfer the islands of Sanafir and Tiran to Saudi Arabia, loyalty to the regime trumped classic patriotism. Anyone who demonstrated against the transfer was arrested for preferring principle to policy – or as the Egyptian media put it, “preferring their personal interests to the nation’s interests.”
Liberalism has also been reinterpreted, so that “true liberalism” is women removing their headscarves. And the 2011 revolution recently obtained a new patron, judging by recent articles claiming that deposed President Hosni Mubarak originally supported the demonstrators.
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