A foreigner walks into an Egyptian café, and surveys the crowd. His eyes scan the crowd, and focus in on three Egyptians sitting at a table. The unsuspecting Egyptians greet the guest warmly, and he is only too keen to butter them up: "I really like you," he says.
The conversation turns political: One of the women at the table says she overheard talk of a conspiracy against the army on the metro. "Really?" the guest intones in English, and the word echoes ominously. He then begins writing a message on his smartphone – presumably, the commercial implies, to his foreign paymasters.
This ad, which appeared on Egypt’s state-owned Nile TV, has resurrected fears among journalists of a repeat of the spasm of xenophobia that accompanied last year’s revolution. Mr. "Really?" is only doing what reporters everywhere do when news breaks — asking locals their opinions of the state of their country. If that’s a crime, journalism has become illegal.
(Thanks to Menna Alaa for confirming the ad’s appearance on Egyptian television)
Josh Rogin covers national security and foreign policy and writes the daily Web column The Cable. His column appears bi-weekly in the print edition of The Washington Post. He can be reached for comments or tips at email@example.com.
Previously, Josh covered defense and foreign policy as a staff writer for Congressional Quarterly, writing extensively on Iraq, Afghanistan, Guantánamo Bay, U.S.-Asia relations, defense budgeting and appropriations, and the defense lobbying and contracting industries. Prior to that, he covered military modernization, cyber warfare, space, and missile defense for Federal Computer Week Magazine. He has also served as Pentagon Staff Reporter for the Asahi Shimbun, Japan's leading daily newspaper, in its Washington, D.C., bureau, where he reported on U.S.-Japan relations, Chinese military modernization, the North Korean nuclear crisis, and more.
A graduate of George Washington University's Elliott School of International Affairs, Josh lived in Yokohama, Japan, and studied at Tokyo's Sophia University. He speaks conversational Japanese and has reported from the region. He has also worked at the House International Relations Committee, the Embassy of Japan, and the Brookings Institution.
Josh's reporting has been featured on CNN, MSNBC, C-Span, CBS, ABC, NPR, WTOP, and several other outlets. He was a 2008-2009 National Press Foundation's Paul Miller Washington Reporting Fellow, 2009 military reporting fellow with the Knight Center for Specialized Journalism and the 2011 recipient of the InterAction Award for Excellence in International Reporting. He hails from Philadelphia and lives in Washington, D.C.| The Cable |