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Egypt’s polarised media: Between claims of faked videos and Sisi posters

August 20, 2013

By Farah Yousry and Mounir Adib

“Finally, a video exposing the sleazy actors of the Brotherhood and anti-coup protesters. Share now to expose their real face!”

This is the message that has been viewed and shared on social media websites – as well as Egyptian TV.

The message formed the caption to a video clip from a TV report screened on Qatari-owned channel, Al Jazeera International.

The video, from near Fateh mosque in Ramses Square, shows a young man with a bandage on his head, blood rushing from the head wound hidden from view. As a field doctor pulls up the man’s bloodied t-shirt to check for any other wounds, the injured man supposedly loses consciousness and kicks up with his leg in an abrupt way.

According to privately-owned Egyptian channel CBC, as well as social media users sharing the video, the man was clearly afraid his act would be unmasked when the doctor pulled up his t-shirt on camera only to find that there was no wound and the whole scene was a fake.

On YouTube alone, the video has been viewed around two million times receiving more than 100,000 comments, of which almost none were challenging the authenticity of the caption. Additionally, on Facebook, the video along with its caption were shared more than 100,000 times.

The video was not only picked up by social media users and some Egyptian TV channels, but also Egyptian Foreign Minister Nabil Fahmy, who used the video during an international press conference held on Sunday as proof of the opposition’s bad faith and a hostile media outlet’s fabrications.

To an average Egyptian viewer who has been saturated with reports of “sexual Jihad,” foreign espionage drones and poor hygiene leading to an outbreak of scabies, this scene – along with the explanation media have provided – is believable.

“Of course it is an accurate report. Muslim Brotherhood supporters have been faking deaths and killing themselves to make the military look bad, and drag them down to their level,” Ahmed Fakhr, a taxi driver, said. “Everyone is aware of the [Muslim Brotherhood’s] forgeries by now. Many of my passengers are very well-rounded, educated people and they hold the same view.”

Little do Fakhr, his passengers and the several millions who have shared the video or watched it on Egyptian TV, know that the injured young man’s abrupt kick is due to the “agitation state” caused by the “frontal lobe edema” he suffered after receiving a bullet in the head.

“He was shot in the head with birdshot from the rightside which bruised the brain and created pressure  on it; a condition called frontal lobe edema,” Dr. Mohamed Ahmed, neurosurgeon at Demerdash hospital where the young man is currently being hospitalized, told Egypt Independent. “This condition makes the patient very agitated and unable to control his reactions towards any external stimuli. This is what people saw on the video and mistook it for an act.”

He added that when the patient was admitted to the hospital, he was at a “disturbed consciousness level” and “hardly obeying commands.” According to the neurosurgeon, this causes agitation, which explains the abrupt kick he gave the doctor who was trying to pull up his t-shirt on camera. Read more in Egypt Independent.

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