Egyptian magic is a means to control the people’s anger

Distracting people from their fundamental issues and societal problems and urging them to think, debate, and quarrel over sub and secondary issues is considered trivial means used by authoritarian regimes to control people. Followers see that the media in Egypt, which is entirely controlled by the authority, is playing a unified piece of music to direct public opinion to discuss and debate marginal issues and distract the people from the real problems caused by the ruling regime.

During the past several days, the security services have opened controversial case files, despite their occurrence several years ago, which some saw as a way to distract people, such as the case of the mass rape of a girl in the Fairmont Hotel, which occurred in 2014. The case of stealing the African Nations Cup, which the Egyptian national football team won, from inside the Egyptian Football Association’s headquarters sparked controversy. The exaggerated official, judicial, and media attention to this issue has become a matter of suspicion, especially since the theft took place and was announced several years ago.

Thus, observers see that the Egyptian regime and the security and intelligence services are deliberately blowing up issues that are intended to distract the people at a time when citizens are suffering from severe economic and living crises. Observers say that the problem is that the Egyptian regime directs all the media to discuss one thing only, which is not the most significant problem facing Egyptian society. Not only that, but officials and the media in Egypt have exploited several events spread on social media sites and used them for the regime’s benefit.

Media loyal to al-Sisi’s regime turned these cases into fertile material for controversy and interaction without researching why or holding the ruling system responsible. The media also shed light on some video clips on social media during the past days, such as a quarrel between a police officer and a counsellor inside the court. There was also a clip of a beachside Fresca seller, a medical school student, and the woman who paid for a train ticket for a recruiter after the train staff insulted him. There are other issues that many activists saw as being exploited to divert attention from demolishing buildings and mosques, reducing the size of a loaf of bread, rising foreign debt, cases of anger and tension, and calls for demonstrations and revolt against the ruling regime.

Distraction of people

In Egypt, there have been many ways to distract people over the past years, and the most prominent means of distraction lies in the football conflict and stoking the fire of intolerance between the fans of the two biggest clubs in Egypt, al-Ahly and Zamalek. The president of Zamalek Club, Mortada Mansour, who is closely linked to Egypt’s intelligence services, is the champion of this type of distraction. Mansour used to launch his fiery statements against his opponents. He made intense media appearances, and constantly insults everyone on TV, without accountability.

After football, the sexual scandals of artists and film stars in Egypt come to occupy a significant position in distracting public opinion and distracting people, such as the appearance of an artist in a revealing dress at a party or lawsuits against an artist who established an emotional relationship with another. And sometimes, the distraction of the people in Egypt takes another form by raising religious issues and strange fatwas, so that the jurisprudential debate between specialists and citizens escalates into sub-religious provisions without reaching a conclusion each time, such as banning the veil in schools and universities.

The American philosopher Noam Chomsky prepared a list in which he summarised the methods used by the international media to control people through the press into 10 basic strategies, the first of which was the strategy of distraction, which is a fundamental element in controlling societies. In his book “Silent Weapons for Quiet Wars,” Chomsky says that distraction depends on distracting the public from the necessary knowledge and distracting them from real problems, whether economic or social, and directing them to trivial things so that they do not have time to think.

Hassan Abdel-Fattah, professor of political sociology at Ain Shams University, says: “The policy of distraction is taught at the academic and political levels by security men and decision-makers and those who lecture and develop their curricula by intelligence men in any country.” He explained that the policy of distraction amounts to creating a problem or situation to provoke a particular reaction among the people so that the public rushes, demanding a satisfying solution. He mentioned examples such as allowing the spread of violence in some sensitive areas, even at the expense of others’ freedom. He added that “an economic crisis may be created, from which exit becomes conditional on accepting minimum human rights and dismantling some vital public services, and accordingly, pre-programmed solutions are presented that must be accepted as a necessary evil.”