Earlier this week, Maurice Bonamigo had strong words for the White House on its Egypt policy. “The Obama administration failed to assess the situation in Egypt,” Bonamigo told Egypt’s flagship English-language media organ, the Egypt Independent. “It did not appreciate the power of the Egyptian people calling for freedom. I am surprised by Obama’s stance.”
Readers will be surprised to hear that the Independent is describing Bonamigo as a U.S. senator. Of course, many Egyptians are still mad that Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham called the coup that deposed President Mohamed Morsi a coup. But to get revenge against the entire upper house of Congress by inventing a U.S. lawmaker is taking it to rather absurd lengths.
“Maybe they really thought he was a senator, and they were fooled by someone going under the name Maurice Bonamigo,” says Samuel Tadros, an Egypt expert and author of the recently published Motherland Lost: The Egyptian and Coptic Quest for Modernity. “Or the journalists are just fabricating the whole thing. That’s the Egyptian media for you. It’s best not to believe anything in the Egyptian press.”
Another example, Tadros notes, was a “story” that broke earlier today, after Obama cancelled the joint military exercise with Egypt. The Egypt Independent, the same media outfit, reported (links and tweets reporting the story have since been deleted) that Russian president Vladimir Putin had offered to conduct exercises with Egypt. According to word on the Egyptian street, this newly brokered would give General Abdel Fattah el-Sisi access to Moscow’s entire nuclear arsenal.
“Of course the Putin story is not true,” says Tadros. “None of it’s true. The Egyptian press exists in a parallel universe.”
A universe in which The Onion would be incapable of distinguishing itself from what counts as real news.
UPDATE: It appears that there is a real Maurice Bonamigo, a political consultant whose views on the crisis in Egypt, it seems, are in line with the Egypt Independent's imaginary U.S. senator.