EL-ARISH, Egypt — “You're supporting terrorism,” the man said before he realized the cruelty of his accusation. “There are traitors in Sinai,” added the retired major general affiliated with the Egyptian liberal parties. This is how he began his conversation with me when we happened to find ourselves sitting at the same table with a group of his friends during an event in Cairo. The major general’s statements, published on condition of anonymity, illustrate how badly the Egyptian people are being informed about events in the Sinai Peninsula, be they politicians, security elites or ordinary people. What, however, is the source of such misconceptions about Sinai residents?
A Sinai sheikh requesting anonymity answered the question, stating, “The deliberate media blackout based on security directives is one of the reasons that has led to the growing suspicion and mistrust among the Egyptian people about Sinai. Egypt’s newspapers and satellite TV only report news about the death of military members shot by extremist religious groups in the Nile Valley provinces. These outlets fail, however, to convey the suffering of the Sinai people, who are plagued by repressive security practices and the dominance of armed religious extremism.”