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Originally published by the Investigative Project on Terrorism.
I recently wrote an article based on Arabic reports that Muslim Brotherhood supporters had crucified Morsi’s opponents. Because it was picked up by several websites and disseminated far and wide, as usual, Islam’s apologists and others claimed “hoax.”
Readers sent me a couple of these articles which, upon further investigation, seem to be based on a National Post article titled “Egypt’s ‘crucifixion’ hoax becomes an instant Internet myth” by one Jonathan Kay. He characterizes the crucifixion account as “a story worth dissecting—not because it’s true (it isn’t), but because it is a textbook example of how the Internet, once thought to be the perfect medium of truth-seeking, has been co-opted by culture warriors as a weapon to fire up the naïve masses with lies and urban legends.”
Alternatively, dissecting Kay’s claims is useful as it is a textbook example of how the Western mindset tries to rationalize away whatever does not fit its intellectual boundaries.
First, after mentioning the several websites that carried or quoted my article, Kay wondered how none of the “sources supply the original Sky reporting that purportedly outlines the facts.” Then, he offers the following sentence as its own paragraph, apparently as something of an eye-opening revelation:
“That’s because there is no Sky report on the subject.”
Actually, this big “aha” moment was made earlier and by someone else—me, in my original article. After posting the names of several Arabic websites that carried the same verbatim quote from Sky News, I pointed out that Sky removed its original report. I did not have to make this point, or mention Sky News at all, since other reports—including El Balad, a much higher trafficked Arabic website which I also quoted—independently mentions the crucifixions in original language and further adds that two people died. And that report, as of now, is still up.
Kay then quotes a Sky News official who supposedly told him that the crucifixion claim
began on social media. It started getting pick-up from there and eventually reached us [Sky News]. Our reporters came across reports of the alleged crucifixions and a story very briefly appeared on the Sky News Arabia website. The story—which was taken down within minutes—was based on third-party reports and I am not aware that any of our reporters said or confirmed anything along the lines of what is quoted in the article… none of our correspondents confirmed this issue or commented on it.
Several points here:
First, Sky News admits to having published a story about crucifixions. Likewise, though it admits to taking it down, it never states that the crucifixion accounts are a “hoax” or even false. It simply offers no comment. This is not proof that the story is a hoax.
As for the claim that the report was “taken down within minutes,” in fact, someone forwarded me the Sky News link almost two days before I actually clicked it, and the article was still up and written exactly like a report. Investigative reporter Patrick Poole sent me a clear snapshot of the webpage before it was removed, which is before me.
The title, “Protesters Crucified in Front of Presidential Palace in Egypt,” is followed by the following standard reporting information: “Thursday, August 9, 3:19 am Abu Dhabi time; 11:19 pm Greenwich; Samir Umar [reporter], Cairo, Sky News Arabic,” followed by the portion I originally translated: “A Sky News Arabic correspondent in Cairo confirmed that protestors belonging to the Muslim Brotherhood crucified those opposing Egyptian President Muhammad Morsi naked on trees in front of the presidential palace while abusing others.”
Moreover, the photo of the page shows 286 face book likes: one doubts that a report on a modestly trafficked website would reach that number if it was only up for mere minutes.
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