Egyptians slam military propaganda 'exploiting' Aylan Kurdi's memory

Egyptians slam military propaganda 'exploiting' Aylan Kurdi's memory
2 min read
15 Dec, 2015
Egypt's Twitterati have rounded on a billboard on a major road that infers that rebellion against the military-backed state leads to the death of innocent children.
'A child who lost his army' vs 'a child with his army' [Facebook]
Social media users in Egypt are in an uproar over a tasteless billboard plastered on a toll booth on the desert road connecting Cairo and Alexandria.

The offensive billboard offers two contrasting images. One shows President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi accompanied by a young cancer patient at this year's inauguration of the Suez Canal expansion. The picture bears the caption: "A child with his army."

The second is the famous image of Aylan Kurdi; the three-year-old face down in the surf.

That picture is captioned "a child who has lost his army".

The inference is that Aylan's death was the natural result of an uprising against a military-backed state, and a not-so-subtle warning to any Egyptians looking to show dissent - your children are vulnerable.

It is a message saying "if you support the army, your children will be safe and even stand alongside the president - but if you rise up, your children will share the same fate as Aylan".

      The images of Aylan shocked the world in September [Getty]
A photo of the poster was widely shared on Facebook with many users expressing their disgust at the blatant military propaganda, while others claimed the image was photoshopped and the billboard didn't really exist.

"They are trying to fool us and use the tragedy of another people to scare us from demanding our rights," said Khisal al-Baroudi.

Ahmad Kassem pointed out an obvious contradiction in the image: "The killer is taking advantage of the death of a child, who he actually has helped kill by supporting [Syrian President] Bashar al-Assad."

Youcef Badawi shared an image of several bodies on a beach with the caption: "This is group of young Egyptians who lost their army. They died as they were trying to start new lives in Italy."

Others users compared the message behind the image with controversial television anchor Reham Saeed's recent comments that Syrian refugees have become "uncivilised" because they have "risen up in a revolt".

Saeed's remarks similarly led to a social media backlash, calling for her to resign.

Despite the fear-mongering by government supporters who use the war in Syria as a deterrent against dissent, the Sisi government has not condemned the Assad regime, unlike Egyptian allies such as Saudi Arabia.

Earlier this month, a Syrian minister arrived in Cairo for the first visit by a Syrian official to Egypt in three years.