Arab Spring? Egyptian Media Deny and Glorify Holocaust

By Terence P. Jeffrey | August 2, 2012 | 1:52pm EDT

Egyptians protesting in Tahrir Square in February 2011 (AP Photo)

( - In the wake of the so-called Arab Spring in Egypt, which led to the overthrow of President Hosni Mubarak and the election of a parliament dominated by Islamist parties, expressions of anti-Semitism and Holocaust denial and glorification have become common in the Egyptian media, including in government-owned media, according to the U.S. State Department.

“Anti-Semitism is common in the state-owned and private media,” said the State Department country report on religious freedom in Egypt for 2011, which was released Monday.

“It sometimes included anti-Semitic rhetoric and Holocaust denial or glorification,” said the State Department report.

“Editorial cartoons and articles depicting demonic images of Jews and Israeli leaders, stereotypical images of Jews along with Jewish symbols, and comparisons of Israeli leaders with Hitler and the Nazis were published throughout the year, particularly after the August 18 deaths of five Egyptian soldiers in Sinai during an Israeli operation against terrorist attackers,” said the State Department.

The State Department noted that despite rampant anti-Semitism in both the government’s media and “opposition” media, there have not been attacks on Jews in Egyptian “in recent years.”

“Anti-Semitic sentiments appeared both in the government-owned and opposition press; however, there have been no violent anti-Semitic incidents in recent years,” said the State Department.

However, 11 pages earlier than the above statement, the same report noted that there are only about 100 elderly Jews remaining in a country that has a population of more than 83 million people.

“The country’s Jewish community numbers about 100 persons, mostly senior citizens,” said the State Department report.

The report also noted that despite the commonplace anti-Semitism in the government-controlled media, the Egyptian government had “advised” journalists to "avoid" anti-Semitism.

“The government has advised journalists and cartoonists to avoid anti-Semitism,” said the State Department. “Government officials insist that anti-Semitic statements in the media are a reaction to Israeli government actions against Palestinians and do not reflect historical anti-Semitism; however, there are few public attempts to distinguish between anti-Semitism and anti-Israel sentiment.”

In late 2010, when Mubarak was still in power, the Egyptian government had briefly stopped Holocaust-denying-or-glorifying-TV stations from broadcasting over a government-owned satellite system. But, subsequently these stations were allowed to return to the system.

“A number of privately owned, government-licensed satellite television stations continued to broadcast virulent anti-Semitic programming, which glorified or denied the Holocaust, over government-owned Nilesat,” said the State Department. “In October 2010 the government warned stations to eliminate ‘sectarian content’ (i.e., content that reinforced sectarian hatred or could spark sectarian violence) and took a number of these channels off Nilesat. Following a court decision in November 2010, five of these stations returned to Nilesat while others resumed broadcasting in February.”

In Egypt, according to the State Department report, a government ministry is supposed to license all mosques and the Muslim imams are supposed to be appointed by and be paid by the government, although free-lance mosques are now springing up.

Despite this government control of the clergy, Egyptian imams also promoted anti-Semitism, according to the State Department.

“There were reports that imams used anti-Semitic rhetoric in their sermons," said the State Department. "The Israeli embassy was the scene of several demonstrations featuring anti-Semitic slogans. A wall erected around it by the government in early September was quickly covered in anti-Semitic graffiti, including swastikas."

“In September, squatters occupied part of Cairo’s 800-year-old Bassatine Jewish cemetery and destroyed some headstones and monuments. The government evicted them after complaints were made,” said the State Department.

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