A few days after the July 2013 coup that ousted the Muslim Brother hood in Egypt, this slogan appeared on a series of slickly produced posters in Cairo, alongside portraits of General Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi that declared the army and the people to be ‘one hand’. The ‘lying camera’ poster was aimed squarely at the television network al-Jazeera, which Egypt’s new regime believes is lavishly funded by the Qatari government as a loudspeaker for Brotherhood propaganda. The military and its coy bullets were put on the front line against everything the coup leaders deemed ‘un-Egyptian’: foreign media, foreign NGOs and above all the transnational Muslim Brotherhood. Though we did not know it then, these two lines were to serve as charge, trial, verdict and sentence in the cases of journalists Peter Greste, Mohamed Fahmy and Baher Mohamed. On Egypt’s streets that northern summer, protesters widened the conspiracy theory to take in the Obama White House and Israel, both of which were apparently backing the Brotherhood in a plot to destroy Egypt. If this sounds absurd, that’s because it is – but hardly more absurd than the appearance in Cairo of three Republican members of the US Congress, who not only managed to conflate the Brotherhood with al-Qaeda and the September 11 attacks but also told General Sisi that he was a modern-day George Washington.
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