The Emperor’s New Clothes (TENC) *

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How The New York Times Lied About Egypt
by Jared Israel and Samantha Criscione

We charge that the media falsified coverage of the conflict in Egypt, and we prove it in the case of the top human rights columnist for The New York Times, Nicholas D. Kristof, showing that his eye-witness report and video about the fighting between anti-Mubarak forces and their opponents in Tahrir Square February 2 constitute unbridled deceit.

Part 2: To see a world in a grain of sand and mendacity in a thumbnail

Embedded video: “Meeting Mubarak’s Supporters,” by Nicholas D. Kristof and Jaron Gilinsky, The New York Times, February 2, 2011

[May 5, 2011]

The other parts of the series are:

Part 1: A picture can refute a thousand lies”

Part 3: Better lying through technology”

Part 4: The videographer’s art, enfin



In Part 1 we stated our thesis: that the Western media has deceived the public about the recent and ongoing Egyptian upheaval, including the role of Western powers.

This is of great importance because Egypt has by far the largest population in the Arab world; because it controls the Suez Canal; and, most important, because, before January 25, it was the key Arab opponent of the Muslim Brotherhood, Hezbollah and Hamas, and the sworn enemy of the Islamist Regime (IR) in Iran.

We argued that, fortunately, we can combat misinformation about Egypt by checking news reports against the media’s own images, which can provide evidence to expose falsification.

The New York Times
has played a leading role in falsifying the record about the world-shaking events in Egypt. As a case study of Times coverage, in Part 1 we began to examine Nicholas D. Kristof’s February 2, 2011 column, “Watching Thugs With Razors and Clubs at Tahrir Square,” showing that, based on the photo Kristof chose to illustrate his column, Kristof lied.
(Part 1 is posted at )

In Part 2, below, we turn to Kristof’s video, “Meeting Mubarak
’s Supporters,” showing how, even before the video starts, Kristof is guilty of deceit.  In Part 3, we prove that Kristof doctored a photo to deceive and to cover-up the deception.  In Part 4 we show that Kristof doctored his video footage; and yet, despite that, Kristof’s video disproves the claims he makes in his column and, indeed, in his video.

Did we say Kristof uses the video to deceive before the video begins?  Now that is greatness; but then we are talking about The New York Times.


Mr. Kristof’s video: dishonest before it starts


Kristof uses his video to misinform before it begins by means of the thumbnail image he has chosen to represent the video.

Below is a screenshot of that thumbnail as it appears on Kristof’s Times page, next to the beginning of his column:

As Kristof and his New York Times editors are aware, people expect a thumbnail to be a still shot taken from the video itself, or at least to be an image accurately reflecting the video’s contents.

Therefore readers would assume that this threatening image of men
swarming over a tank, while a light glows ominously in the background, depicts “Mubarak’s Supporters,” whom Kristof will be “Meeting” in the video. Because one assumes a thumbnail foreshadows the content of a video, this image works like a subliminal advertisement, orienting readers to believe the charge Kristof makes repeatedly in his Times article, including in the paragraph adjacent to the thumbnail (as seen above), that:

“I was on Tahrir Square, watching armed young men pour in to scream in support of President Hosni Mubarak and to battle the pro-democracy protesters.”
[Our emphasis – TENC]
-- “Watching Thugs with Razors and Clubs at Tahrir Square,” by Nicholas D. Kristof

And, as Kristof tells us during the video itself:

“Mubarak today seems to have sent in the thugs to try to restore his role to Tahrir Square.”
-- New York Times video, “Meeting Mubarak’s Supporters,”
embedded below


“It seems to be an effort to create violence by these provocateurs and thereby perhaps create a pretext for a crackdown... [Hence the significance of the men standing on the tank – TENC]
-- New York Times video, “Meeting Mubarak’s Supporters,”
embedded below

Since Kristof, representing the very influential New York Times, is making a serious accusation here – indeed, he is making the main accusation that clinched ordinary Westerners’ opposition to Mubarak – it is is important that this thumbnail communicates a lie.


Pro-Mubarak?  Anti-Mubarak?  Why quibble?


In the first place, the thumbnail is not a still from the video. Nowhere in the video (or for that matter in the accompanying article) does Kristof meet or describe himself as having met men grouped on and around a tank.

Are the men in the image at least actual supporters of Mubarak?  That is certainly the impression conveyed by Kristof placing the video’s title, “Meeting Mubarak’s Supporters,” directly under the thumbnail, so that it functions as a caption.

However, if one examines a larger version of the thumbnail, such as the one posted below, one will discover evidence that these men are fiercely anti-Mubarak:
We accessed the larger version of the thumbnail image by starting the video from Kristof’s article at, choosing full screen mode, and waiting until after the copyright information at the end, whereupon the video closes with the thumbnail image full-screen (1280 pixels wide on our monitors). To see a screenshot of the full-screen thumbnail, go here.

Let us look at a detail from the bottom right of the image above:

Do you see what is remarkable about this?  If not, please check out the larger version.

What is remarkable is that there are men in front of the tank, and, with the exception of the man on our left who has a bandage on his forehead, they are all bent over, apparently praying – praying on a city street, in the midst of a violent political upheaval, in front of a tank. Seeing this, we knew that the men pictured in the thumbnail had to be Mubarak’s enemies, not, as Kristof was effectively telling us, his supporters.

How did we know this?


Why the men in the thumbnail had to be part
of an extremist anti-Mubarak faction


How come? Don’t all Egyptians pray?

Some do and some don’t (and, by the way at least 10% are not Muslims), and while it is true that a section of Egyptian society prays in groups on city streets (as opposed to only in mosques or in their homes), and does so organized in rows, repeatedly prostrating themselves in unison like the ranks in a military display —
Ranks of men praying in the street in paramilitary formation in Alexandria, stronghold of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood, during the holiday of Ramadan in 2010. [2]

— it is also true that a) most Egyptians do not pray in the street (although they may pray in mosques or in their homes) and b) those who do pray in this manner are not thereby proving they are necessarily more religious than others – there are millions of religious Egyptians who refuse to join these public demonstrations. Rather, they are making a very dramatic indeed extreme political statement; they are engaging in political aggression, threatening passersby and motorists who do not join them, effectively telling them:

‘There will be more and more of us and fewer and fewer of you; and in the end everything will be ours, and those who have resisted will be sorry.’
In Alexandria during the holiday of Ramadan in 2010, the ranks of praying men were positioned right up to a passing trolley (above) thus forcing the driver to proceed very slowly and forcing non-praying passersby (below) to walk in the street on the trolley tracks. (See footnote [2].)

Through this aggressive behavior, all the more threatening because the men are organized in squads, giving the distinct appearance of military organization, the participants are saying, ‘The streets belong to Islamism.’ Not to Islam, but to Islamism, because again this is a political statement, linked in Egypt and elsewhere to formations such as the Muslim Brotherhood that have a great deal in common with the clerical fascist movements in Europe in the 1930s. The political-military character of this praying is particularly apparent at political rallies, as in the photo below of people prostrated in prayer in Tahrir Square following a sermon by Muslim Brotherhood Mufti Yusuf Qaradawi during the February 4th so-called “Day of Departure” demonstration:
Photo showing men prostrated in prayer led by Muslim Brotherhood Mufti Yusuf Qaradawi at the February 4, 2011 Tahrir Square rally.  To see a Reuters photo of most of the area of the rally, which demonstrates that the great majority of men were prostrated in prayer, go here.

’ caption:

“Anti-government protesters take part in Friday prayers at Tahrir Square in Cairo February 4, 2011. Tens of thousands of Egyptians [Note: “Tens of thousands,” not hundreds of thousands let alone millions – TENC] prayed in Cairo’s Tahrir Square for an immediate end to President Hosni Mubarak’s 30-year rule, hoping a million more would join them in what they called the ‘Day of Departure’. ”

The above photo is posted at
Copyright Amr Abdallah Dalsh / Reuters 2011.  It is reproduced here for educational purposes, for Fair Use Only.

And the political-military character of the street praying is more apparent still when it is associated with fighting and destruction, as in Kristof’s thumbnail image of men swarming over a tank at twilight or in the photo below, taken by a New York Times photographer on January 28:

To view a full-size version of the photo above, go here.

Source: This picture is (C) The New York Times, 2011. The photographer is Scott Nelson. It appeared on the Times home page on Jan. 28, 2011 and is archived at
It is posted here for educational purposes, for Fair Use Only.

The caption under the picture above reads:

“In Cairo, an eerie silence fell in one section of the city at midafternoon, as hundreds of protesters began a prayer session in the middle of the street. Protesters bowed their heads as smoke billowed into the air behind them from the skirmishes between demonstrators and riot police.”
[Our emphasis – TENC]

In fact, columns of smoke don’t ‘billow into the air from skirmishes’; they billow from people setting things on fire, which is precisely what the so-called “protesters” did all over Egypt, especially during the period from January 27 to January 31.

The anti-Mubarak people in the New York Times photo above are confirming the holiness of their fighting and arson through prayer, meaning they are engaged in holy warfare, which for the Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamists is the primary meaning of jihad.

Since the start of the so-called “revolution” in Egypt on January 25, the Western media has published many pictures of men (and occasionally women) bent over or prostrated in prayer – at rallies; during or after fighting with political opponents or with police; in front of tanks and other military vehicles – and in every case, insofar as the captions have identified these people, they have been identified as “anti-Mubarak.”  Never have we been shown people identified as “Mubarak’s Supporters” praying in the street.

As we will see in Part 4 of this series, when we discuss the content of Kristof’s video (embedded below), the “Mubarak’s supporters” whom Kristof actually does meet in Tahrir Square express various views.  Some chant slogans, with those that are translated strongly supporting Mubarak. In partial contrast, a man whom Kristof interviews says Mubarak should be allowed to finish his term and leave in dignity.  He tells the anti-Mubarak people that they have been disrupting and destroying Egypt and preventing ordinary people from sleeping or going to work, and that, contrary to their wanton terror, Egypt needs a smooth political transition, without destruction.

So “Mubarak’s Supporters” voice various views, but none express fanatical religious beliefs; indeed none talk about religion. The same is true of those who argue with the anti-Mubarak people in the Time magazine article, “Cairo Street Debate.”

Similarly, we have watched hundreds of videos of the Iranian demonstrations in 2009 and 2010 – for Emperor’s Clothes collections (‘playlists’) of such videos, see footnote
[5] – and we have never seen any protesters praying in the street, let alone praying in formation, prostrating themselves in unison.  Yet the overwhelming majority of the millions of people involved in the Iranian demonstrations were Muslims, and undoubtedly many were religious.

There is a reason why some Muslims pray in military formation in the middle of busy streets and others do not, or even are horrified by such behavior. (See the Time magazine account of a “Cairo Street Debate,” footnote
[4]). The reason is that Muslim-majority societies – even Iran under the Islamist Regime, as we saw to everyone’s amazement! – are sharply divided.

In covering the conflict in Egypt, the Western media has almost entirely avoided discussing this great division between the Islamists (i.e., the people prostrating themselves at rallies) and the non- or anti-Islamists, who oppose such political-religious manifestations. Instead, the media has presented the anti-Mubarak forces simply (and falsely) as democrats opposed to authoritarianism.

By way of reinforcing this idea, the media widely circulated one particular image, the burned out hulk of the building pictured below, which, we were told, was the Cairo headquarters of Mubarak’s National Democratic Party: massive (communicating, by the size of the supposed ruling party headquarters, totalitarianism) and destroyed by so-called “protesters” (communicating, by the extent of destruction, popular fury at this massive supposed party structure).
The above photo is from the blog of one Phil Gribbon.  We used it because it shows the building’s architrave (the part over the entrance) and because a full-screen version is accessible. More on that in a moment.  Mr. Gribbon (or his wife, who took this picture, but whom Gribbon does not name) captioned the photo —

“NDP Headquarters and the army man who didn’t appreciate the idea.”

— the “idea” being the idea of taking the picture, and “NDP” standing for “National Democratic Party,” which, in step with the media, is what the Gribbons called this destroyed building. More on that in a moment, too.

The photo is posted at

Copyright 2011 by Phil Gribbon.  Posted for educational purposes, for Fair Use Only.

The media reported that this building was destroyed as an act of protest on what they referred to as “The Day of Rage” demonstrations, harking back to the infamous Weatherman “Days of Rage” demonstrations in 1969

Source: (Picture #1 of the photo gallery.)

This photo is copyright Laura Bly/USA Today 2011.  It is posted here for educational purposes, for Fair Use Only.

The only problem is, in going through this building room by room, destroying furniture and equipment, books and documents, burning everything that would burn, the so-called “protesters” were not directing their “rage” at Mr. Mubarak’s party.  They were directing it at the government agency named on the architrave of the building, which name is easily seen both in Arabic and English in the detail below:
The above image is a detail from the full-screen version of the photo from Phil Gribbon’s blog. One can access the full-screen version by clicking on the smaller version, which is at

Copyright 2011 by Phil Gribbon.  Posted here for educational purposes, for Fair Use Only.

As the architrave makes clear, this building, the largest structure the “protesters” destroyed in Egypt, was not the headquarters of the National Democratic Party: it was the headquarters of the National Council for Women, a government agency internationally praised for its work leading the fight in Egypt for women’s rights and against the poverty that fosters oppression of women.

The fact that the so-called “protesters” burned it down; that none of the “protest” leaders objected, during or afterwards; and that not one Western leader, or any official at UNICEF, the National Council for Women’s partner, has even mentioned this monstrous act – these facts speak volumes about the real character of the so-called “revolutionary transformation” of Egypt and the international sponsors of that “revolution.”


How much deceit?


Knowing that Egyptians were sharply divided on the question of Islamism, as evidenced by the fact that while some Egyptians passionately supported the National Council for Women, others (the so-called “protesters”) attacked it in a “rage” and burned it down, and knowing that the ranks of the “protesters” were manifestly dominated by people who prayed in military formation on busy streets and at rallies, precisely as an aggressive expression of their politics – that is, as a threat – we asked ourselves: why would “Mubarak’s Supporters,” who do not bring up religion in political argument, and who, in Egypt (as in Iran and elsewhere), oppose the fanatical element in Muslim society, prostrate themselves in prayer in front of a tank?

Far from being Mubarak’s supporters, the men in Kristof’s thumbnail were obviously adherents of Qaradawi’s Muslim Brotherhood and the like, the most extreme anti-Mubarak factions.

Assuming, as we did, that Kristof would be briefed on the nuances of the Egyptian conflict before going to Cairo, it would follow that he and his editors understood the significance of the men praying in front of the tank as well as we did and therefore knew they were using a threatening image of Mubarak opponents to represent a video about Mubarak supporters, meaning that, yes, they were guilty of deceit.

But how much deceit?

What was this picture that Kristof used as the thumbnail representing his video, entitled “Meeting Mubarak’s Supporters”?

Where did he get it?  We were sure we had seen it somewhere before, but where?

Why didn’t Kristof credit the source?  Was he anxious for people not to find the original, either because of something he didn’t want them to read in the caption or because he had doctored the image?

If we found the original photo, would it reveal substantially more dishonesty on the part of Kristof and the New York Times?

So we searched.  And we found it.  And it did.

-- Jared Israel and Samantha Criscione
Emperor’s Clothes

Continued in “Part 3: Better lying through technology.”


“Meeting Mubarak’s Supporters,” video by Nicholas D. Kristof and Jaron Gilinsky, The New York Times, February 2, 2011

If your browser does not show this video, it can be viewed on the New York Times website, at


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Footnotes and Further Reading


[1] “Watching Thugs With Razors and Clubs at Tahrir Sq.”
By Nicholas D. Kristof, The New York Times, February 2, 2011
If you cannot access it at the above URL, go to

[2] The images of men praying in military formation in Alexandria are cropped from screenshots of the video, “Millions of Muslims in the street to pray: Ramadhan 2010; Alexandria (Egypt).”  The claim about “millions of Muslims” should be taken with a large grain of salt.  From our observation, since the strength of Islamism rests largely on intimidation, and since the larger the numbers, the greater the potential intimidation, Islamists routinely exaggerate their numbers by one or two orders of magnitude: a very large crowd, perhaps in the tens of thousands, becomes millions. The video is at

[3] As regards jihad, there are right now two pressing questions: a) do Islamists such as the Muslim Brotherhood, whom the Western media describe as moderate, advocate jihad and mean by that holy war and b) are so-called jihadists independent forces, or are they proxy forces for Western establishments?  Regarding the first question we would answer yes, they do advocate jihad meaning holy war and regarding the second question we would answer, no, they are not entirely independent; most are to a great extent Western proxies. Looking at it differently, without Western aid they wouldn’t have a snowball’s chance in hell (witness the situation in Libya. Very good at burning buildings and mob attacks on individuals.  Not good at warfare.)

In the TENC article, “Fact-checking the Muslim Brotherhood,” Jared Israel proves that Brotherhood founder Hassan Al-Banna proclaimed armed holy war the ultimate human activity; the primary meaning of jihad; and a pressing necessity in modern society.  You can read the TENC piece, including selected quotes from Al-Banna, at or you can access Al-Banna’s full text, “On Jihad,” at

What about today? Yusuf Qaradawi (or Al-Qaradawi), Mufti of the Muslim Brotherhood, has ruled that participation in and/or financial support for “defensive jihad” is mandatory for all Muslims. As Qaradawi makes clear, “defensive jihad” means armed warfare to reclaim lands that were once under the rule of Islamic law but are now in the hands of what he calls “disbelievers.” His examples: Chechnya, Kashmir and Palestine (by Palestine he means the entire former Palestine Mandate territory, including Israel.) See his comments in “Ask the Scholar,” on Qaradawi’s new website, .
The particular column is entitled “Spending Zakah [obligatory charity – TENC] Money on Jihad,” at

Elsewhere, Qaradawi offers a much more extensive list of places that (he decrees) need to be freed from the rule of “disbelievers,” including unspecified territories in China, Thailand, the Philippines, and various cities and republics in the former Soviet Union.  Quite a large part of the world.  Go to Chapter Three of “The Islamic Movement In The Field Of Education And Religious Training,”  at
and scroll down to the subhead, “A Debate that We do not Need Today.”

The debate in question is over “offensive jihad” (conquering lands that were never under Islamic rule) vs. “defensive jihad” (conquering lands that were at one time, even the distant past, under Islamic rule.) Qaradawi favors “defensive jihad” until all lands once under Islamic rule are conquered, following which it will be high time to talk about conquering the rest, says he.

One would think from reading Qaradawi that he is fiercely independent of Western influence, but that is an illusion.  In practice, we see the West either sponsoring and aiding jihad, as in Egypt, bombing in favor of the jihadists, as in Libya, or effectively supporting the Iranian jihadists against their opponents, as in Afghanistan and Iraq.  To read Jared Israel’s arguments on this subject, see the following two discussions on Potkin Azarmehr’s blog:

(The original discussion in this case is no longer online, so we have copied and posted the Google cache.)

(In this discussion, Jared’s argument mainly begins in his second entry.)

In both cases Jared has multiple contributions, which you can find by searching for his name.

[4] “Cairo Street Debate: When Mubarak Foes and Backers Clash,” by Rania Abouzeid, Time, Monday, January 31, 2011, at,8599,2045278,00.html

The Time article is posted with a commentary by Jared Israel, at

[5] Our playlists of videos on Iran are posted at:

[6] Jared Israel has written several articles on the Weathermen, whose 1969 “Days of Rage” helped launch the gangsterization of protest and dissent.  See, for example, “A Nightmare of Human Potential: Reply to Bill Ayers’ New York Times Editorial,” at

[7] See, “UNICEF representative lauds role of NCW for women’s empowerment,” Egyptian State Information Service (SIS), Friday, 03 December 2010, at
In case the post-“revolution” Egyptian SIS deletes this page, we have archived a screenshot here.

Also, TENC reader Angie D. found a most interesting United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) report on its joint program with the National Council for Women (NCW).  See, The United Nations Development Programme, Office of the Resident Representative, “ ‘Increased awareness on participation of women in society.’ A NCW-UNDP joint Initiative.” Outcome Evaluation Report, UNDP Multi-Year Funding Framework (MYFF) for Egypt, 2002-2006: Outcome 5, August 2007.

This report can be downloaded as MS Word document at


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The Emperor’s New Clothes (TENC) *