• Egypt Issues Guidance For How Journalists Should Write About ISIS

    Following last week’s brief military crackdown on Islamic State militants in the Sinai Peninsula, Egypt has rushed to control news about the campaign.

    After Wednesday’s attacks, which involved ISIS-aligned fighters briefly contesting a town in the desert of the Sinai, the government claimed that 17 soldiers died. Independent journalists put the death toll at more than 50.

    So on Sunday, the country’s cabinet announced a draft law, which would imprison journalists for up to two years for contradicting official government claims about terrorism. Since Egypt’s parliament was dissolved in 2013, all lawmaking has rested directly in the hands of the cabinet. (RELATED: Obama Has No Idea What To Do About Egypt)

    The government has also enforced a media blackout in the mostly-empty Sinai since 2013. Attacks on the military in the peninsula have escalated ever since the ouster of Muslim Brotherhood-aligned president Mohamed Morsi that year.

    For decades, Egypt’s military has portrayed itself as the defender of the common Egyptian in a region full of chaos and existential threats. Last week was no exception: on Thursday, the military’s spokesman changed his Facebook cover photo to a collage of battleships, fighter and bomber planes, and armored personnel carriers.

    Between the military equipment ran the slogan “Victory or Martyrdom.”

    The Foreign Ministry of Egypt also provided a “style guide” Saturday to foreign journalists in the country. It insisted that the press not refer to Islamic State and other terrorist groups as “jihadis,” “Islamists,” or “fundamentalists,” or even to use the names “ISIS” or “Islamic State.” Instead, it suggested handy alternatives including “slayers,” “savages,” “rebels,” “executioners,” and “eradicators.”

    Egypt’s Foreign Ministry issues foreign press corps a style guide for how we should describe terrorist groups. pic.twitter.com/AAn9MNcLxC

    — Alex Ortiz (@azortiz) July 4, 2015

    Cartoonists, an integral part of Egyptian political media, have also complied with the government’s orders. Jonathan Guyer, a journalist who surveys political cartoons in the Middle East, wrote Monday that state-run and private newspapers alike have used cartoons to portray the recent campaign against ISIS affiliates as a struggle “between good and evil.” Moreover, Guyer writes, the cartoons so far have been “didactic” instead of “funny,” in a country known for cracking jokes in the face of bleak news.

    Wednesday’s ISIS-inspired attack came just days after a car bomb killed Egypt’s prosecutor-general, who led the country’s systematic crackdown on the Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamist groups. (RELATED: Egypt’s Top Justice Official DEAD In Car Bombing)

    The group which perpetrated Wednesday’s attack began as an independent jihadi group in the Sinai Peninsula. It calls itself the “Sinai Province” of Islamic State. The assault included a brief seizure of the town of Sheikh Zuweid, becoming ISIS’ first-ever attempt to gain and hold territory in Egypt.

    Authorities also killed 9 members of the Muslim Brotherhood in a raid Wednesday. The now-illegal group replied by calling the president a “butcher,” urging ordinary Egyptians to “come out in rebellion and in defense of your country.”

    Follow Ivan Plis on Twitter


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