“It is with great disappointment, but with absolutely no surprise, to read the lies and complete distortion of facts contained in the leaked backgrounding document issued by the Consulate General of Egypt in Melbourne to the media, the same Consulate that refused to comment after the fall of Mubarak’s 30 year tyrannical dictatorship.”
[Read more about the background of this story here]
A Rebuttal to the Leaked Melbourne Egyptian Consulate Document
August 22, 2013
By: Australians for Democracy and Human Rights in Egypt (ADHRE)
It is with great disappointment, but with absolutely no surprise, to read the lies and complete distortion of facts contained in the leaked backgrounding document issued by the Consulate General of Egypt in Melbourne to the media, the same Consulate that refused to comment after the fall of Mubarak’s 30 year tyrannical dictatorship.
Although amateurish, it is has clearly been inspired by the ‘how-to-spread-lies-and-distort-the-truth’ handbook for repressive regimes. What was equally pathetic was the deliberate attempt to appeal to the ‘Christian’ West by playing the ‘Coptic persecution by terrorists’ card; a not-so-subtle attempt to inflame public opinion in a highly divisive and despicable manner.
The 10 page document contains 7 pages of links to Facebook pages, YouTube videos and loose facts of “supporting evidence” detailing the “terrorist activities” of the Muslim Brotherhood. Much of the evidence is random photos and videos and absurd assertions, some of which are discussed below.
The leaked press statement‘s assertion that the protests/sit-in were illegal and unauthorised is, in itself, based on a false premise as the governing regime is an illegal coup and, therefore, not in a position to be issuing permits; particularly as the protestors were supporters of the illegally deposed President, a despicable irony. There are particular points, however, which we will address directly as they have been contradicted publicly by people and organisations of influence.
Furthermore, they claimed that they “conducted a regular security operation” in which they took the utmost care in “employ(ing) the highest self restraint tactics in dispersing the sit-ins.” This 8 minute video (i) captures the events in Rabaa Square as it unfolded. It shows in clear detail army snipers shooting from rooftops and helicopters into the protestors below. Gunfire is heard throughout the video and graphic imagery of dead and dying people, bodies strewn with bullet wounds through the heads and chests and blood splattered roads. The many videos and eye witness testimony paints a bloody and murderous picture and the undeniable fact that over 800 people were killed mitigates any claim that the illegal coup regime had any intention to disperse the protestors peacefully.
Furthermore, envoys from both the EU and the US that were sent to try solve the crisis between the illegal coup regime and the Muslim Brotherhood have insinuated that the failure of finding a peaceful solution primarily landed at the feet of the army and their cohorts. Senator Lindsay Graham from the US, said “(the coup regime) were itching for a fight” (ii) and that General Abdul-Fattah Al-Sisi seemed a “little bit intoxicated with power.” (iii) Indeed Senator John McCain, who was his partner in the mission, foretold on August 6, “Oh my God, I didn’t know it was this bad. These folks are just days or weeks away from all-out bloodshed.” (iv)
The European envoy, Bernardino León, has said that the army made false promises in which Brotherhood leaders would be released and in return, the Brotherhood would reduce the size of the protests. He said that the Brotherhood accepted these terms but the coup regime failed to follow through on their “promises.” (v)
Western diplomats were left in no doubt that the army had no intention of solving the situation peacefully and the resultant events clearly testify that General Abdul-Fattah Al-Sisi was intent on crushing any opposition and therefore betraying his position as head of the Armed Forces and protector of the people.
The dubious claim by the coup regime that the protestors had weapons despite the fact that there had been no recorded and verified incident of use of weapons in the 6 weeks leading up to August 14 is made even more questionable by the false claims made by the Egyptian foreign minister, Nabil Fahmy, in an interview with BBC HARDTalk broadcast on Tuesday 6 August 2013, in which he said that Amnesty International had issued a statement that the protestors “had heavy weapons” in Rabaa Square. Amnesty International was quick to deny this with a press release that said “at no stage did Amnesty International refer to the use of “heavy weapons” inside the sit-in.” (vi)
It cannot be ignored that such important world players as the European Union, the US and Amnesty International have damned the current regime for both their intentions and misrepresentation of the facts which clearly brings into focus the invalidity and real motives of this bloody coup and the Consulate’s claim that the coup regime did its utmost to solve the crisis through diplomatic means and to disperse the protests with maximum restraint.
What is even more despicable is the Consulate’s attempt at playing the sectarian card and hoping to resonate with its Western audience by insinuating that the Muslim Brotherhood were attacking churches, symbols of Christianity and Copts by showing disputable footage. In fact, vicars involved in these churches have categorically stated that those who attacked the churches were “baltageya” (vii), hired thugs that were intricately part of the Mubarak regime’s methods of intimidation and brutality. On 1 January 2011, a bomb exploded outside an Alexandrian church and “extremists” were charged for the attack. Evidence came to the surface after the fall of Mubarak that the Interior Minister, Habeeb Al-Adly, masterminded the operation – a tactic, it is believed, that he commonly employed to sow distrust between the Muslims and Christians. (viii)
Moreover, the innuendo of the press release that the Muslim Brotherhood is vehemently anti-Christian does not reconcile with the fact that Dr Morsi issued a presidential decree for two churches to be built. There have only been 16 churches built in Egypt in the last 30 years as it was not possible for a church to be built without presidential approval, ironically a law that was enacted by previous ‘secular’ regimes. The new constitution that was passed by nearly two-thirds of voters in December 2012, and supported by President Morsi, “obligated the state to enact the right of religious communities to have places of worship as regulated a law.”ix Which meant for the first time in modern Egyptian history churches would be regulated under the same laws as other places of worship.
It is extremely disappointing and unprofessional for the Egyptian Consulate to flame sectarian and religious tensions and, therefore, bring the position of the Egyptian Consulate into disrepute. The consulate’s primary responsibility is to its own fellow citizens, living or travelling in the host country; but by taking this inexplicable position they will run the risk of alienating many of those who require their services.
It is an undeniable fact that the overthrow of Egypt’s first democratically elected president was a coup, whether popularly backed or not, and the repercussions has spelt disaster for the country’s fledgling democracy. In the 50 days since the coup, hundreds of political opponents have been arrested on trumped up charges, including Dr. Morsi and the almost the entire Muslim Brotherhood leadership, over 1000 people have been killed, 19 of 26 regional governors have been replaced by army generals, the despised State Security have been re-enacted with full powers under the guise of fighting terrorism, political opposition has been suppressed. The coup government will seemingly stop at nothing to crush all opposition, even those who were on their side such as Mohammed Baradei, who recently stood down from his role as Vice President because of his opposition to the mass killings, and has fled Egypt for he has been charged with ‘breaching state trust.”
The situation would be farcical, worthy of a B grade slapstick comedy motion picture, if it wasn’t so depressingly and deadly serious and we call on the Egyptian Consulate to retract this document, to issue a public apology, and to respect their position as a representative of the Egyptian people.
Analysing the References Cited in the Consulate Document
The leaked press release includes 7 pages of so called evidence. Much of videos and photos do not show exactly what had occurred by who and the entire context; and the manner in which this “evidence” is produced seems quite amateurish for a government body. Below we look at some of them.
The leaked document states:
a) ” Muslim Brotherhood terrorists push a police armoured vehicle off the 6th of October bridge. 8 police officers died.
Rebuttal: Below is the video footage from a building above the bridge which clearly shows the police van losing control and reversing off the bridge. It clearly shows that nobody pushed the police van. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N2RRgAvIqG0
b) The document listed dozens of attacks on churches and claimed it to be the work of Muslim Brotherhood terrorists but they show no conclusive proof of who has done so. Undoubtedly these disgraceful attacks have occurred but the perpetrators remain unclear, although the Mubarak regime has previous form, as we have pointed out. Besides the article directed to above, below is a video of an interview with Father Ayoub Yousuf who quite clearly says it is the ‘baltageya’ (the hired thugs) who are taking advantage of the unrest and spreading fear amongst the people. Not once did he reference Muslim Brotherhood “terrorists.”
c) The claim that the people crossing the 15th May bridge firing rifles and guns are Muslim Brotherhood supporters is extremely doubtful. The following video, that has recently surfaced, clearly shows a policeman in white uniform mingling with the armed thugs. Also, those in the videos walking over the bridge are neither chanting or holding posters or banners. This is more consistent with the methods of “baltageya” (hired thugs).
At 1.10min a policeman, dressed in the white uniform, comes clearly into view chatting with a ‘civilian’ holding a rifle amongst a crowd of people holding weapons.
d) The idea that the state would hire thugs or “baltageya” might seem a foreign and far-fetched concept to people in the West but the “baltageya” system played an intricate part in the Mubarak regime’s methods of intimidation and brutality. They were often used to intimidate opposition and scare away people at polling stations.
The arrest of the biggest “mafia” boss in Egypt, Sabry Helmy ‘Nakhnoukh’, last year, exposed the relationship between the underworld and the Mubarak regime, particularly the Interior Minister Habeeb Al-Adly. He admitted playing a part in trying to salvage the Mubarak regime in its last few days. ‘Nakhnoukh’ was sentenced to 28 years jail in May this year and he was quietly released within days of the removal of Morsi so it comes as no surprise that the “baltageya” are back in force.
Below is an article where ‘Nakhnouh’ describes his relationship with the Mubarak regime after being arrested.
– Download full leaked document here.
– Read more about the background of this story here
– Egyptian consulate website: Consulate General of the Arab Republic of Egypt – Melbourne
Recommended story: The need for Muslim whistleblowers – Reviving a prophetic tradition