Washington Post staffers cowered in the main lobby of their Washington, D.C. headquarters on Thursday as hundreds of Egyptian-American protesters chanted outside, in response to a protest leader with a bullhorn, that “The Washington Post is lying” and “The Washington Post [is] Supporting Terrorists.”
“A large group of Egyptian protesters rallied in front of The Washington Post offices on Thursday afternoon, registering their support for military leader Gen. Abdel Fatah el-Sissi and their opposition to the Muslim Brotherhood,” reported the Post. In fact, these were Egyptian-Americans, and the reason they were at the Post could be ascertained in their chants. They did support el-Sissi but also were disgusted by the paper’s failure to accurately cover events in Egypt, and to fix the blame for the attacks on Christian churches on the Muslim Brotherhood.
I covered and captured the protests in videos here and here. The Post reported that its main lobby “was shut down and no one was allowed in or out during the approximately half-hour that the protesters peacefully chanted and waved signs.” There was no need for this overreaction, as the demonstrators were indeed peaceful.
The Post couldn’t help reporting on a protest outside its own headquarters. But I also captured the demonstration, which moved from the White House to the offices of the paper. These were families, some with children. Many of the signs were directed in protest of President Obama’s support of Muslim Brotherhood terrorism. One said, “Obama STOP Supporting Murders of Muslim Brotherhood.” Another proclaimed, “We all call on our U.S. Government to stop supporting the Muslim Brotherhood terrorists.”
Several signs referred to al Qaeda as the military wing of the Muslim Brotherhood. One noted that al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri was a member of the Muslim Brotherhood.
Another sign had Al Jazeera’s logo with a black mark through it. The Muslim Brotherhood TV channel is under investigation in Egypt and may be permanently banned, while being welcomed here in the United States under the name “Al Jazeera America.”
The reason for protesting the Post was apparent based on the front page of the paper on Wednesday, August 21, where Abigail Hauslohner, the Post bureau chief in Cairo, wrote a story which obscured the facts about those responsible for anti-Christian terrorism.
Hauslohner featured a quotation from an anonymous “high-ranking Western official who was not authorized to speak on the record” as saying, “We have seen zero indication that the Muslim Brotherhood as an organization is organizing these attacks.” The official claimed “the blame more likely rested with Islamist vigilantes rather than Brotherhood members acting on orders.”
But further down in the same article she reported that the “evidence of anti-Christian attacks” included a Jesuit school in the provincial capital, also called Minya, where vandals had scrawled “Egypt is Islamic” on the gate. She also admitted that the Mar Mina church, “near a Brotherhood rallying point,” had been emblazoned with the word “Islamic.’’
The Post reporter also acknowledged that “Some witnesses said attackers had chanted against military rule, and one man said the group he saw attack a church had worn green headbands marked by the Muslim Brotherhood’s crossed-swords insignia.”
Still, the Post featured the anonymous quotation to get the Muslim Brotherhood off the hook for the anti-Christian violence.
According to the group Coptic Solidarity, there is no question about the perpetrators of the violence. “Since August 14, 2013, the militias of the Muslim Brotherhood and their Jihadist allies waged unsolicited attacks killing over 90 police officers and security personnel and hundreds of innocent Egyptians,” the group points out. “In unprecedented violence in Egypt’s modern history, Islamists set ablaze 68 churches, monasteries, schools, orphanages and other Christian institutions and scores of Copt-owned houses and businesses. They burned museums, courts, police centers and other public institutions.
The clear objective of the Brotherhood, dubbed by some Western media as having ‘renounced violence for a long time,’ is to drive Egypt into chaos and civil war.”
A separate Post article about the protests outside its own headquarters quoted Kristine M. Coratti, a spokeswoman for the Post, as defending the newspaper’s stories: “Our coverage of events in Egypt has been comprehensive, incorporating all perspectives, and it has been fair, accurate and honest.”
Earlier in the day, at the National Press Club, a group linked to the Muslim Brotherhood, the Egyptian-Americans for Democracy and Human Rights, claimed the new interim government in Egypt was burning and attacking Christian churches “to instigate sectarian violence between Muslims and Christians in Egypt.” Ahmed Bedier, former chief of the Tampa chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), a Muslim-Brotherhood affiliate, was the main speaker at this event. Other speakers included Mahdi Bray of the American Muslim Alliance and Safei-Eldin Hamed, a professor at Chatham University.
In a press release, the organization said, “It is obvious that in their futile attempt to paint the Muslim Brotherhood as a violent and terrorist organization, the government does not spare any immoral and inhumane action to achieve its goal, including the killing of its own citizens, the burning of dead bodies and lying about the reasons for death in their death certificates.”
But later in the day, at a news conference called by opponents of the Muslim Brotherhood, those claims were quickly dismissed. Maged Riad, legal counsel for the Coptic Christian Church in the United States, said the charge that the government was attacking Christian churches is “so ridiculous that it’s almost laughable.” He said the Islamists actually had maps of churches and other groups they wanted to attack, that a ten-year-old Christian girl was shot and killed as she walked home from a Bible class, and that Egyptian police officers killed in one assault were beheaded. Riad said the group is also targeting Americans for death.
Another speaker, Tawfik Hamid, said Muslim Brotherhood leaders had been videotaped threatening Christians about what would happen if Mohamed Morsi was overthrown. “They threatened and warned the Christians for supporting the military or for asking for the removal of Morsi,” he said. He also said the attacks on Christian churches in Egypt have to be seen as part of a global pattern of violence by Islamists. “We are not talking about something here outside the pattern,” he said. “It’s exactly the same pattern.”
Dr. Samia Harris, another speaker, called the Muslim Brotherhood an “international cult of a criminal nature” with the “ambition to control the world.”