Several News Outlets Report ‘Millions’ at Egypt Protests; AP Almost Buries Story, Claims ‘Hundreds of Thousands’
The BBC is reporting from Egypt that “Millions of protesters across the country accuse the country’s first Islamist president of failing to tackle economic and security problems since taking power a year ago.” Reuters is also reporting “millions” of participants.
At the Associated Press as of 11:15 p.m., its “Big Story” home page (saved here for future reference) had three stories on Egypt. Two of them were moldy oldies from before Sunday’s protests. The one from Sunday evening was buried at the bottom of the page’s “Latest News” section, and didn’t even have an accompanying thumbnail (Update, July 1, 1:15 a.m.: That story is no longer even present at all at the AP’s “Big Story” home page). The coverage by Hamza Hendawi, Sarah El Deeb and Maggie Michael only recognized “hundreds of thousands” of protesters, but at least seemed to admit that the protesters had gained some leverage by their sheer numbers:
EGYPT ERUPTS WITH PROTESTS DEMANDING MORSI OUSTER
Hundreds of thousands thronged the streets of Cairo and cities around the country Sunday and marched on the presidential palace, filling a broad avenue for blocks, in an attempt to force out the Islamist president with the most massive protests Egypt has seen in 2½ years of turmoil.
… Fears were widespread that the collisions between the two sides could grow more violent in coming days. Morsi made clear through a spokesman that he would not step down and his Islamist supporters vowed not to allow protesters to remove one of their own, brought to office in a legitimate vote. During the day Sunday, thousands of Islamists massed not far from the presidential palace in support of Morsi, some of them prepared for a fight with makeshift armor and sticks.
The protesters aimed to show by sheer numbers that the country has irrevocably turned against Morsi, a year to the day after he was inaugurated as Egypt’s first freely elected president. But throughout the day and even up to midnight at the main rallying sites, fears of rampant violence did not materialize.
Instead the mood was largely festive as protesters at giant anti-Morsi rallies in Cairo’s central Tahrir Square and outside the Ittihadiya palace spilled into side streets and across boulevards, waving flags, blowing whistles and chanting.
… The massive outpouring against Morsi raises the question of what is next. Protesters have vowed to stay on the streets until he steps down, and organizers called for widespread labor strikes starting Monday. The president, in turn, appears to be hoping protests wane.
For weeks, Morsi’s supporters have depicted the planned protest as a plot by Mubarak loyalists. But their claims were undermined by the extent of Sunday’s rallies. In Cairo and a string of cities in the Nile Delta and on the Mediterranean coast, the protests topped even the biggest protests of the 2011′s 18-day uprising, including the day Mubarak quit, Feb. 11, when giant crowds marched on Ittihadiya. (*)
… As they marched toward the presidential palace, some chanted, “You lied to us in the name of religion.” The crowds, including women, children and elderly people, hoisted long banners in the colors of the Egyptian flag and raised red cards — a sign of expulsion in soccer.
In Tahrir, chants of “erhal!”, or “leave!” thundered around the square. The crowd, which appeared to number some 300,000, waved Egyptian flags and posters of Morsi with a red X over his face. They whistled and waved when military helicopters swooped close overhead, reflecting their belief that the army favors them over Morsi.
(*) – This sentence directly contradicts the “hundreds of thousands” claim, given the nearly universal acknowledgment that “Millions turned out in major cities across Egypt” on April 25, 2011.
As I have noted several times, the “legitmate vote” aspect of the situation is dubious, not so much Morsi’s election but his electoral orchestration of voter “approval” of a sharia-based, socialist Constitution after assuming dictatorial powers in November of last year.
It’s grain of salt time, but Naguib Sawiris, a “Founding Member of Al Masreyeen Al Ahrrar political party,” an Egyptian opposition group also known as the Free Egyptian Party, claims that the BBC, a network not particularly known as a friend to those who oppose Islamists, is reporting that ”The number of people protesting today is the largest number in a political event in the history of mankind.” If so, it must have been in a broadcast, because I couldn’t find it in print at the Beeb itself.
Sawiris also claims that a CNN reporter at Tahrir Square has said: ”I’ve never seen a crowd this large, even during the revolution.”
At the same web page with its reporting of “millions” of protesters, “The BBC’s Aleem Maqbool in Tahrir Square says the size of the protest has been wholly unexpected.” Watch the video at the link, and this one with wide shots of the crowds that are jaw-dropping.
Even the New York Times is reporting that ”By the Millions, Egyptians Seek Morsi’s Ouster,” and that the crowds “appeared to exceed even the massive street protests in the heady final days of the uprising that overthrew President Hosni Mubarak in 2011.”
What’s holding the AP back?
Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.