Egypt: Maspero sit-in supports media workers’ struggle

Scenes from the sit-in outside the Egyptian State TV building at Maspero, on the Nile close to Tahrir Square, 27 January 2012. Translation below.

Send a message of solidarity to the protesters at Maspero, and the media workers fighting to complete the revolution inside the media – email menasolidarity@gmail.com or leave a comment below this article

Woman [off camera]
“Can we have a message from Uncle Vendetta?”
Man in Vendetta mask
“Our message? We won’t keep silent. We’ll win our rights – with a mask or without one.”

Film screening of Kazeboon [Liars] documentary about military attacks on protesters, projected on to the walls of the TV building.

March from Tahrir to Maspero, 28 January

Alaa Abd-el-Fattah [who was imprisoned by the military for nearly two months in the autumn on false charges].
“The media is the last citadel of the regime. The people want the cleansing of the media!”

Crowd
“The people want the cleansing of the media”

Man in black T-shirt
“Anyone who still has a conscience – come with us to Maspero!”

Crowd
“Come with us to Maspero”

Alaa (to woman in hijab)
“Nobody’s going to burn anything inside. Nobody’s trying to get in the building. We don’t need to do that. Your brothers and sisters from Nile News channel are trying to liberate the media from inside. This man [in the grey jacket] is from Nile News. There are revolutionaries inside the building, so we’re not trying to storm it, we’re standing outside to support them. We’ve been there for three days and there haven’t been any problems. Our presence outside is supporting those inside, the revolutionaries inside. There is a movement to clear out corruption and the old regime from Nile News, and we need to support them. We’re protecting them in a peaceful protest, and if you come with us you’ll be in solidarity with their movement. The people want the cleansing of the media.”

Crowd
“The people want the cleansing of the media”

Man outside TV building
“My name is Khaled Nagi, and I’m a presenter on the music programme and with a group of colleagues, working in different sections in Maspero we set up a movement called “Independent Media Workers”. The movement is calling for the cleansing of the media [from corruption and the remnants of the old ruling party], and for its independence, because unfortunately as we’ve seen, the Egyptian media, is a mouthpiece for the ruling regime, just as it was in the past. We expected after the revolution in January things would change, but unfortunately the situation stayed the same. In fact it even became worse, as with the [media reporting on] the Maspero massacre. So we’ve put out a statement calling for the cleansing of the media.”

Woman in woolly hat outside TV building
“My name is Dalia Soqrat, and I work on Nile Live channel, which is a specialised channel in the Egyptian TV and Radio Union. After the revolution some of us working in several sections decided to set up a movement called “Independent Media Workers”. We’re a group of workers in the TV building who are very unhappy about the way the media is reporting on what’s happening in Egypt now. With the amazing changes that happened after the revolution of 25 January we thought things would change inside the TV as well. But unfortunately nothing at all has changed. There is same mentality, the same way of dealing with crises.

So we, as a group of workers decided we were going to fight back, that we’d grab freedom for ourselves: through issuing threats, by organising sit-ins. We’ll go to the media and try and take them ourselves. Really, inside the building its just the same as it ever was. They just tell us “there was a phone call from ‘upstairs’ – you can’t say this or that”. What’s that supposed to mean? So some of us have started to say ‘No’ and never mind the consequences. We’ve started saying ‘If you’re saying the guest we’ve invited shouldn’t come, then bring me an official letter from him, saying he doesn’t want to come.’ And of course they can’t do this. In the end we get the guest we want.

But we have to believe in ourselves, we must have confidence that we can force them to change the media. We can’t just do it from outside. We can see lots of people outside supporting us, they’re not media workers, but they came to support the media workers. The media workers have to feel that they’ve got the people’s confidence. They’ve got to force the management to change their whole culture and their media policies. We can do that. But we’re waiting for all the workers inside. They all need to join us.”

Woman with long hair
“My name is Riham Salem. I’m a presenter on Nile Live TV channel. I’m one of the members of the Independent Media Workers, which was set up after the revolution, after the fall of Mubarak, with the aims of cleansing the media and securing its independence. We want to transform the media from being state media, to being the people’s media. This is quite natural and the Egyptian media has been run by the state for a long time, but now with the people’s revolution, the media has to come back to the people. Because Egyptian TV, here at Maspero, belongs to the Egyptian people, paid for through their taxes. So it should tell the truth and reflect the people’s wishes, and not those of the regime.

Our movement, which was set up after Mubarak’s fall, issued a lot of statement, including one after the events at Maspero [on 9 October], saying that those responsible for the reporting about the massacre [which blamed protesters for the violence and incited violence against them] have the blood of those who died on their hands.”

Khaled Nagi
“This is an invitation to all those working in Maspero to join our movement, because our aims are to cleanse the media, as there must be truthful media which express what the Egyptian people want, and which provide citizens with accurate information and not the information that the regime wants them to hear. Revolutionaries, come and join the movement!”

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