Egyptian state TV anchor Shahira Amin: 'propaganda made me quit'



CAIRO // I am walking away from Tahrir Square with my own prize victory: the presence of camera crews from Egyptian state television filming the protest. I quit my job on Egypt's English-language satellite channel (part of state television) last Thursday for what I considered to be its biased coverage in favour of the regime. Angered by my inability to tell the story as it is because of media censorship, I walked out determined not to be part of the regime's propaganda machine.

Foreign networks raced to air my public criticism of the state media's misleading coverage. Its presenters were telling their audience the Muslim Brotherhood had instigated the protest when it had been young activists from the 6th of April Movement and the "We are all Khaled Saeed" group, named after the young man in Alexandria who was beaten to death by police in June last year. The focus of state media coverage was the pro-Mubarak rallies, rather than the revolution.

My resignation after 22 years as senior anchor and correspondent on state TV captured the attention of the international media partly because it happened to coincide with a government crackdown on foreign journalists. Many were attacked and their equipment destroyed in an effort to hamper their reporting of the crisis.

After criticism by the West, the newly appointed prime minister, Ahmed Shafik, appeared in an interview and urged television authorities to do away with the censorship. He asked them to present all sides of the story - apparently giving the green light for airing the views of the anti-regime protesters.

For state television, this is a complete turnaround and I was pleased to see a shift in the way the story has been covered.

As I left the square, I saw a mother lean over her seven-month-old baby. "Papa and I are here for you today. We have not known freedom but we want to make sure you will."

That, I told myself as I walked to my car, is precisely why tens of thousands of Egyptians are gathered here. For them, even death is a small price to pay.

Shahira Amin is an Egyptian journalist who resigned from state-owned Nile TV during the protests in Cairo.

* Washington Post

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