In a comic clip filmed at a party, a young man stands on a small stage in front of a limited number of attendees, cracking jokes and imitating the style of the most famous Radio Qur’an broadcasters in Egypt, turning the matter into an unusual debate. Activists on social networking sites were divided between rejecting the young man’s mockery of Radio Qur’an – the majority – and defending the right to criticise and not exaggerating matters. The security services announced an investigation into the matter. The National Media Authority submitted complaints and statements condemning the commentators.
Dar Al Iftaa also issued a statement denouncing the mockery of the ancient radio station and praising its role in Egyptian society. Some considered that exaggerating the issue is part of the security and intelligence services’ efforts to distract the people and distract their focus towards secondary and marginal issues, which was demonstrated by state institutions’ concern in the matter. But many social media users say that the satirical clip is a grave offense to the Holy Qur’an Radio and the sanctity of the Qur’an itself.
A hashtag was issued entitled Support the Holy Qur’an Radio, expressing the rejection of the satirical clip, and through it, the tweeters shared their memories with the prestigious radio station. Others shared clips of senior Qur’an reciters and pictures of famous broadcasters. Some chose to share clips of young people imitating the commas and invocations that the radio show was famous for. The interaction showed many citizens’ love for the famous radio show, which plays in Egyptians’ homes and their streets and shops throughout the day and night to the point that it has become part of the people’s conscience and heritage.
The Holy Qur’an Radio
Some of them compared the freedom to ridicule the Holy Qur’an Radio and the inability to politically mock or criticise the regime of General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi. On the other hand, others defended the young man’s right to ridicule the broadcasters’ performance, especially as he did not address the content of the radio and its religious programmes, criticising the continuation of the policy of silencing and abolishing freedom of opinion and expression. A number of the tweeters criticised introducing an aura of holiness to the Holy Qur’an Radio programmes’ presenters, considering that a similar satirical passage was repeated a while ago without this uproar.
Others recorded the shift in the policy from the purely religious side to support the policy of al-Sisi’s regime, as the radio conducted a political dialogue with al-Sisi for the first time in its history years ago. Qur’an Radio is intended to provide a legitimate cover for the al-Sisi regime and its human rights violations, which have escalated in an unprecedented way in the country’s history since the 2013 military coup. Due to its political transformation, the radio has suspended some of its programme hosts due to their political opposition to the established order. It broadcasts some propaganda messages that provoke the masses of its listeners.
On social media platforms, tweeters took advantage of the explosion of the case to express their disapproval and condemnation of a programme broadcast on the Qur’an Radio devoted to the Minister of Endowments, Mukhtar Jumaa, which is considered a justification for all the regime’s actions. The Holy Qur’an Radio began its first broadcast on March 29, 1964, as the first radio station specialised in the Holy Qur’an and Islamic programmes.
The anger of irony
Supporters of the young man’s right to ridicule, siding with the principle of freedom of opinion and expression, expressed their astonishment at the mobilisation of state institutions to pursue the young man who wrote the video clip. The security services said that they were investigating the incident and taking the necessary legal measures in this regard, based on a report from Hussein Zain, head of the National Media Authority.
The National Media Authority confirmed in a statement that it seeks to hold the owner of the video clip accountable for what he “committed in terms of a grave error in the right of the Holy Qur’an Radio,” with sanctity, appreciation, respect, and prestige, according to the statement.
The owners of programmes that mock Egypt’s political situation face countless incidents of harassment and persecution, as happened with the journalist Basem Youssef, who stopped his programme after the military coup. Bassem Youssef left the country for fear of arrest, which is the same as what happened with many satirical political content providers on YouTube.