"The people and the army are one hand," reads a logo now permanently displayed on Egyptian State TV. I remember chanting this sentence at the top of my lungs in Tahrir Square after Mubarak stepped down.
But times have changed. The Egyptian people and the army are not one hand. Maybe they never were. In the past six months, there have been growing doubts about the intentions of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF), which is now in control of the country.
Protesters have reoccupied Tahrir Square to object to a number of issues including the unreasonable delays in trials of former officials and the trials of civilians in military courts, to mention a few.
It is therefore ironic to see "the people and army are one hand" used by state television. It's insulting Egyptians' intelligence, to say the least. Egypt's official media did not take long to adapt to its new owners and turn into the SCAF's mouthpiece.
One thing also became clear soon after the SCAF took control of the country: It did not tolerate criticism. Examples are plentiful.
TV Presenter Fired After On-Air Exchange With General
The most recent one involves Dina Abdel Rahman, host of a television show on the private TV channel Dream. She was fired after an exchange (video is in Arabic) with a general who accused two presidential candidates of being "agents of America." When cleverly questioned by Abdel Rahman about the evidence he has, general Abdel Moneim Kato, an adviser at the Armed Forces Department of Moral Affairs, finally admitted it was "a guess," refusing to name the candidates.
Sadly, it wasn't the first time that accusations were thrown without presenting proof. The SCAF recently started using propaganda language similar to the one used by Mubarak's officials during the revolution.
In an alarming statement released Saturday, the SCAF accused the April 6th movement, one of the main participants in the revolution, of planning to cause a rift between the people and the army. In a subsequent statement, they referred to "websites run by groups of agents" that have the similar disruptive goals.
During the 18-day uprising, Mubarak's officials used to claim that the protesters were influenced by "foreign elements."
Major General Admits Spreading Rumors
Most shocking to me has been the recent statements by Major General Hassan Al Ruweiny, the head of the central command of Egypt's armed forces. In an on-air call (video is in Arabic) with the same Dream TV presenter, al Ruweiny seemed to brag about being the one who spread rumors to calm down the protests in Tahrir Square during the revolution.
"So you were the source of these rumors sir?" asked Abdel Rahman. "Yes of course," said the major general, explaining that he started rumors about senior officials being arrested. "I know how to calm the square down and I know how to incite it," he said.
There Is Hope
While reading the Egyptian independent newspapers the past two days, I found numerous editorials critical of the SCAF and its recent statements in particular. Before the revolution, criticism of Mubarak was sometimes tolerated, but the army was the ultimate red line. This is no longer the case. The fear has been broken. New anti-SCAF hashtags are being created every day on Twitter. The intimidation techniques are not as effective anymore.