Arab media #fails in coverage of Turkey's failed coup

Arab media #fails in coverage of Turkey's failed coup
3 min read
16 Jul, 2016
Several Arab media outlets and personalities have shown support for the attempted coup in Turkey, prematurely declaring it a success.
There was premature celebration in the "success" of the failed coup by Arab outlets [AFP]

Arab media coverage of the attempted coup in Turkey has been divided between support for the military and welcoming the government's success in thwarting the attempted overthrow of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

In Egypt, where the military overthrew Islamist President Mohamed Morsi in 2013, at least three newspapers ran headlines declaring that the army had already succeeded in overthrowing Erdogan.

"The Turkish army topples Erdogan," declared a red banner on the front page of the state's flagship al-Ahram newspaper.

"Recep Tayyip vanishes," said the subhead.

"Army controls Turkey and deposes Erdogan," the private al-Watan announced, labelling Friday night's attempted coup by an army faction as "military disobedience".

However, by the time their print editions came out, Turkey's government had largely succeeded in quashing the coup after a night of clashes that left hundreds dead.

Several Brotherhood leaders are in exile in Turkey, having fled a bloody crackdown against Islamists following Morsi's overthrow.

Erdogan regularly attacks what he calls Egypt's coup, infuriating Cairo.

As the events unfolded, Some Egyptian media personalities could not contain their glee as news of the attempted coup unfolded overnight.

"Good evening, good viewers everywhere! This is a special episode," announced Ahmed Moussa, a pro-government talkshow host on the private Sada el-Balad channel.

"First, what is happening in Turkey is not a coup. Not at all! It is a revolution from within the Turkish military. And whenever the Turkish military conducts a revolution, it always wins!" he beamed.

Moussa was an avid supporter of Morsi's overthrow, which Erdogan harshly condemned at the time, and the two countries have had tense relations since.

The coverage in the Egyptian media and the premature announcements of Erdogan's ouster prompted ridicule on social media.

"The coup is victorious in the pages of Egyptian newspapers," wrote one Twitter user.

Other media professionals also welcomed the attempted coup, arguing that Erdogan "got what he deserved".

Translation: This is how it ends for you, Erdogan. A dark day for the terrorist Muslim Brotherhood organisation.

However, when the coup attempt was declared a failure, some media personalities deleted their pro-military posts on social media.

Translation: When the military led a coup against Erdogan, people said it was God's punishment against anyone who challenges Sisi, and when the coup failed, they said it was an act made by Erdogan. I’m proud of our strategic experts.

Others argued that they supported democracy against any military coup despite their opposition to Erdogan and his policies.

Translation: Opposing the coup does not mean you support Erdogan. It means that you support the people. Erdogan oppresses the freedom of the press, internet and expression, but the alternative – a military rule – is much worse.

Egypt's presidency, meanwhile, has remained mum on the coup attempt, while the foreign ministry released a statement on consular efforts to help Egyptians in Turkey.

Saudi-owned al-Arabiya news channel was one of many news outlets that seemed to support the coup, its commentators comparing it to the Arab Spring and predicting a looming civil war.

The channel ignored images of protesters supporting Erdogan, while airing images of people taking selfies with the army at the Bosphorus Bridge.

Pro-regime Syrian channels also supported the coup. Sama channel reported on the "successful" coup and the "celebrations" that followed, even describing Erdogan as a "fugitive".

In an interview with Syrian political analyst Uqail Mahfouz, the Sama TV presenter asked: "In the worst case scenario, what if Erdogan remained in power?"