During the week of July 14-18, the political landscape taking shape in Egypt preserved the Politics category as the category attracting the largest volume of discussion on Arabic-language social media. Politics accumulated a total volume of 139,832 comments on various social media platforms, whereas the most debated topic this week emerged from the Religion category.
The top topic in Politics was the news of a large rally organized in Cairo last weekend by supporters of deposed Egyptian president Mohammed Morsi. The “Friday of March” protest generated 21,234 posts. Thousands of Morsi supporters gathered in Cairo to demand his reinstatement, and to support the ongoing sit-ins held in public squares in eastern and western Cairo. In social media, scores of users demanded that the peaceful protests be escalated and extended to other Cairo neighborhoods, as well as block vital roads in the capital to block traffic. Many users attacked the poor coverage of the official Egyptian media for persisting in ignoring the “million-man march” in its news broadcasts. Others slammed the media for publishing false news about the Rabaa Adawiya Mosque sit-in, in which it is claimed that protesters are given money and free Iftar meals to remain protesting there.
A user with the name Abu Yamen commented on YouTube: “The former regime (Mubarak)’s media is dirty enough to insult Syrian women? Then you ask Syrians not to support Morsi who protected their honor and dignity.” Other users called for civil disobedience to pressure authorities to fulfill the protesters’ demands. Tarek Zaki commented on Facebook: “All protesters must start to peacefully pressure the authorities, by one unified action, full civil disobedience in all the cities that would last until Ramadan 10…” The majority of comments relating to this topic were monitored on social media networks, like Facebook, generating 16,573 posts.
The second most debated category was Religion. As the first full week of the holy month of Ramadan approached the end, a number of discussions about religion pushed the category into this spot, where in past months it has been relegated to third or fourth place. The top topic in Religion generated 54,808 comments, prompted by Saudi preacher Mohamed Al Arifi’s use of social media as a platform for his sermons and to disseminate advice on fasting, breaking one’s fast, and medications allowed during the fasting hours. On another note, Arifi has discussed the significance of good manners and prayers, especially during Ramadan. Some social media users thanked the sheikh for his sermons and advice, saying they were helpful to them. A Facebook user, Souad Ouni, posted: “Thank you for all the sermons you give, your eminence Mohamed Al Arifi. May God reward you for them!” On the other hand, some slammed the cleric and described him as a “hypocrite” who changes his views according to the “Sultan’s” desires. Abu Hussain wrote on Facebook: “Arifi is a cool Sheikh. He is good at traveling from one country to another. Rulers knew how to lure him with money and trips to [entice him to] forget what’s going on in Syria and Egypt.” Meanwhile, some users refuted the attacks against the cleric, and advised him not to heed the “haters’” insults. User Ad2b2121 commented under a YouTube video of Arifi: “God support you against the mockers and don’t heed the haters!”
Society came third with 62,011 comments. The ninth season of the Saudi social/religious TV show Khawater (Thoughts) was the top topic in the Society category last week. It attracted some 18,708 comments on social media platforms. The show is hosted by notable Saudi host Ahmed al-Shuqairy and addresses the Arab nation’s problems. The majority of users praised the show, especially the episode on Syrian refugees in Egypt, Jordan and Turkey. Aya Ayman reacted to this particular episode, writing on Facebook: “Sorry Syria. Egypt is no longer as it was before. Morsi cared for the Syrians but now they want to figure ways to kick them out.” Some users were resentful of the Egyptian authorities, who imposed strict visa requirements and security approvals on Syrians desiring to enter Egypt. Many users attacked the Arab Gulf states for supporting the “military coup” in Egypt.
Arts, which has recently held the first or second rank in the past couple of months due to the tremendous popularity of the MBC vocal competition Arab Idol, dropped to the fourth category last week. Only 9,897 comments were generated in the Arts category, interestingly, driven by news about the Arab Idol winner, Palestinian national Mohamed Assaf. Last week, Assaf announced that he had departed his hometown Gaza for his new residence in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Assaf’s fans on the social media were sad to see him leave Palestine, where he held many free concerts for his people. Yet, many users wished him the best of luck in his career. Farah Bashyr wrote on Facebook: “God grant you happiness and bring you back safely to your family and your country. Congratulations to the 1 million Facebook fans Mohamed. As for the people, who are angry about him going to Dubai, he is building his dream and many Palestinians’ dreams…” Meanwhile, some users said they are eagerly awaiting new songs that he has promised to release after Ramadan. On the other hand, some users attacked Assaf for relocating from Gaza, whose people supported him through his early career and during the Arab Idol competition. Badran Mahmoud commented on Facebook: “Hahahaha. You killed yourselves for him, and in a minute, he sold his home…” But, this criticism drew prompt responses by the singer’s lovers who argued that he moved to Dubai for business not for entertainment.
Finally, the Education category, which rarely appears as one of the top five discussed categories, came in the fifth position. The category generated 2,969 comments last week. The only topic in Education came from Iraq with discussion about the results of the elementary and high school exams. The subject has attracted many social media users. Scores of users were thrilled by the generally high grades of the country’s students, deeming it as an achievement amid the ongoing tensions in Iraq. Firdos Alsaffar commented on Facebook: “God bless them all! They scored high despite the countries conditions. You’re a source of pride to Iraqis.” Other users claimed that the noticeably good grades might be an indication that the tests were sold to the students ahead of the examination times. Noor Day wrote on Facebook: “This year, the questions leaked ahead of the tests and all the students bought them.” Conversely, others denied that any cheating had taken place at Iraqi schools, stressing that students worked hard for their results.