Thursday, February 3, 2011

Events in Egypt: Whose revolution is it anyway?

So for the seventh day in a row, all the front news on British newspapers (BBC News, Guardian, The Independent) is dominated by events in Egypt.

I wonder why British newspapers think it is critical for Britons to follow the Egyptian uprising against its dictator so painstakingly, giving it greater importance over anything that is happening in their own country for days on end. 

Mind you, I am not saying that the events are unimportant. They are momentous – but for the Egyptians. Not the Britons. I can understand coverage. I don’t understand coverage in exclusion to everything else. I am sure British people are excited for the Egyptians, and wish them well. But they play no material role in the success or failure of the revolution. That will be up to the Egyptians. And either way, life in Britain will go on as before without people feeling even a speed bump.

Yes, Middle East is strategically important to the West. But that is of greater concern to the governments not the people. The British people accepted the fact that Middle East was run by dictators. It didn’t stop them from going there on exciting holidays or shopping trips. Yes, they disapproved – especially at dinner parties – but accepted it as a reality. Now, as these countries become democracies, they will accept that too, and continue with their holidays.

I don’t think the British people share the rushed, amazed excitement of the journalistic community over the events.

I would put the sustained coverage to two things.

Journalists are excitement-junkies. They need to believe that what they do is exciting and important, and what is more exciting and important than a suppressed majority rising up against their evil dictator. Never mind, that neither comprise their readership.

And second, an empire hangover. Somehow, Britain is unable to accept that the welfare of half of the world is not up to them. They don’t decide the fates of people beyond Britain. That there was a dictatorship in Egypt and Tunisia was not Britain’s doing. That its people rose up against them wasn’t either. It is their history, struggle and victory. British media can cover it, discuss it, explain it – but Britain can’t share it. So get over it!