In response to the demonstration by the Doctors’ Syndicate Friday, media figures attempted to distort the movement by insulting it, providing little coverage, highlighting medical negligence, and denouncing the syndicate by affiliating it with the now-outlawed Muslim Brotherhood.
Doctors gathered Friday at noon in front of the Doctor’s Syndicate on Qasr Al-Eini street in downtown Cairo. At least 10,000 participants were counted by the syndicate.
The doctors’ movement came to support the general assembly held on that day, during which participants voted on several demands, including the referral of Minister of Health Ahmed Emad El-Din to a disciplinary committee, his dismissal from the cabinet, and to stand up against police brutality.
The rally was organised ahead of an emergency public meeting attended by doctors from all over Egypt, following a week of escalation measures undertaken by the syndicate to contest an alleged assault by policemen on two doctors at Al-Matariya Teaching Hospital in January.
Despite photos of thousands doctors gathering in front of the syndicate headquarters, which went viral on social media, a state owned TV channel aired a photo showing the front of the syndicate empty of people. Social media users were outraged as this is reminiscent of similar coverage for the 25 January Revolution in 2011 by a state-owned channel.
Numerous doctors were holding up banners demanding the release of their detained colleagues; a stethoscope was depicted as handcuffs to show solidarity with detainees.
Instead of reporting the event and calling for sources to explain the situation, in accordance to the media ethics, media personalities, and TV anchors continued to criticise the groundbreaking movement and defend police men.
Lamis Al-Hedady invited syndicate secretary general Mona Mina Sunday along with other three doctors affiliated to the syndicate to discuss the issue and the general assembly demands on her privately owned show.
During Al-Hadedy’s discussion with the doctors, she indirectly referred to cases of medical ignorance by receiving calls from citizens complaining of such ignorance and narrating their struggles in Egyptian hospitals.
“When the doctors are demanding their rights and protection, who will protect the citizens from doctors’ ignorance,” a citizen, Hanan, said in phone call televised during the show. She then spoke about her sister’s deteriorating condition after undergoing an operation in a governmental hospital. Hanan demanded immediate medical treatment for her sister and for the doctors to be held accountable.
TV anchor Wael El-Ebrashy discussed medical ignorance and presented Monday on his show, the story of women called Nada who died in an Alexandrian hospital due to medical negligence.
El-Ebrashi spoke to Dr Alaa Al-Aswani Friday in a televised phone call and criticised his attempt to divert people’s attention away from the issue at hand.
TV anchor Ahmed Moussa insulted the syndicate strike and described it as them giving up on their responsibilities which will be in no way beneficial citizen’s health. He noted that part of the movement was planned by the Brotherhood.
Even pro-Mubarak media personality Azmy Maghed accused Mina and Hussien Khairy of being Brotherhood.
Another TV anchor, Mohamed Al-Ghaity described the doctors’ banners as depicting “phrases such as those a terrorist might say”. “Why don’t doctors just close their private clinics as way of striking, instead of governmental hospitals that provide for poor people,” he said.
Renowned journalist Ahmed Khair El-Deen posted pictures of Saturday’s issue of governmental and private newspapers on his Facebook page, which showed that state-run Al-Ahram and Al-Akhbar neglected to report the event on the front page whereas private newspapers Al-Masry Al-Youm and Al-Shorouk reported it as a front page the story.
Following overthrowing the Muslim Brotherhood regime in 2013 and its subsequent labelling as a terror organisation, several incidents threatening state security were attributed to the group. The general discourse by media outlets endorses official accusations against them.