If the Egyptian government was trying to create an image nightmare for itself, it is well on its way to doing a really wonderful job of it.
Starting last week, I started to notice my friends who live in Egypt, Egyptian and non-Egyptian, posting about the current adverts airing on Egyptian television networks about foreigners in the country. I originally thought I was just being a bit paranoid and misreading what my friends had written. That was until an article from The Independent passed across my Twitter feed.
Essentially, the article lays out the situation very neatly. The Egyptian Ministry of Information was running these 40 second adverts that tell citizens to be careful what they are saying to foreigners as they might be spies. And of course, as with any campaign like this, the people of Egypt are outraged. I don’t blame them in the slightest. (After angry public reaction, the Ministry of Information pulled this televised campaign early this week.)
Following the turmoil of the uprising last year, the sentiment that I interpreted was that Egypt and many other countries in the Middle East were ready for a change in whatever direction that may be. But, these adverts only seem to isolate Egypt from any progress that would occur with the rest of the world.
Foreigners who may catch a glimpse of these adverts may become wary of traveling to Egypt and from what I’ve read it looks like Egyptians themselves are not exactly supportive of the message they are sending.
I think that in Egypt’s current state, they have every right to be concerned with foreigner’s intentions, but this was the wrong way to go about expressing it. I only hope the Ministry of Information realizes that in the future.
(The screenshot is from the Egyptian government and is in the public domain. To see the controversial government announcement in full please check below.)