Media Law Prof Blog

Editor: Christine A. Corcos
Louisiana State Univ.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Images of Politicians in the Egyptian Media

Sherif Elgebeily, University of Westminster School of Law, has published David and Goliath: The Polarised Media Portrayal of the Politicians in Egypt. Here is the abstract.
President Hosni Mubarak is currently the 5th longest living African head of State, having been in power for 29 years since the assassination of Anwar Sadat. In the most recent elections in 2005, Mubarak won with 88% of the vote. However, if you asked Egyptians away from the prying eyes of police officers, army troops or presidential guards whether they support him or not, the overwhelming answer would be one of hatred, bitterness and resentment against a leader whom they feel has failed his people at every turn.

Of course, the media has no small part in the falsification of the sentiments of the nation. In this paper I will address how the newspapers and television channels, many of which are under state-controlled, have built an image of Mubarak as defender, protector, peacemaker and economic saviour, which at best is untrue and at worst deliberately fabricated. I will also address how these same media outlets have vilified any opposition that might face him, from the state media’s endorsement of the imprisonment of Ayman Noor to the more recent return of former IAEA chief, Elbaradei.

Over a quarter of the population aged 15 and above in Egypt are illiterate; there is, thus, a heavy reliance on the visual media in swaying the political opinions of Egyptians. I intend to support my argument by drawing upon photos of the billboards that line the streets of Egypt from the capital, Cairo, to smaller towns and on highways in between. Mubarak’s face in its various guises from the now tattered and dirty posters of his youthful 1980’s face through to more stern photos taken at the turn of the century provide an almost farcical storybook of a dictator who simply refuses to give up power.
Download the paper from SSRN at the link.

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