The Honorable Colin Powell
Secretary of State
2001 C Street, NW
Washington, DC 20520
Dear Mr. Secretary:
I am writing to urge continued US efforts to press the government of Egypt to oppose the airing of a program which will reportedly incorporate elements of the hate-filled "Protocols of the Elders of Zion" and other myths about Jewish conspiracies.
The broadcast of the show, "Horseman without a Horse," in early November during Ramadan, is only the latest manifestation of an ongoing pattern of anti-Semitic incitement in the Egyptian media which reverberates beyond Egypt alone. The co-writer and star of the program has been quoted in the regional press on his desire to "expose all the Protocols of the Elders of Zion that have been implemented to date, in a dramatic, comic, historic, national, tragic and romantic manner."
We were disappointed to learn that Egypt's Minister of Information, who holds the final decision about whether the program will air, has, as yet, refused to meet with the US Ambassador.
The program was produced in the government-run "Media City" just outside Cairo, and was sanctioned by the government ministries of Information and Culture which vet programs broadcast in Egypt. The airing of this inciteful program will have a broader impact, especially since the satellite channel, "Dream Channel" is reportedly marketing the series to stations across the Middle East. According to news reports, Qatari newspapers have already celebrated the series as "partriotic" and revealing the Jewish "conspiracy to steal Palestine."
As the State Department's own County Report on Human Rights in Egypt asserts, the broadcast media is tightly controlled by the government, which must approve scripts and final production. Given that premise, any reference to "Protocols" or Jewish conspiracy theories clearly violates international treaties and norms against incitement to racial and religious hatred to which Egypt is a signatory, and should be broadly condemned.
We are grateful that this Administration has recognized the problem of widespread anti-Semitic stereotyping and incitement in the Egyptian government-sponsored media. Mr. Secretary, this is an area where our nation has certainly led by example. When some Americans expressed frustration by inappropriately targeting Muslims after the World Trade Center attacks, this Administration urged Americans - in the depth of their grief -- to resist scapegoating and to embrace tolerance.
For Egypt, as for America, political conflicts do not mitigate this responsibility. President Mubarak must oppose incitement, especially in times of political crisis with Israel or any other nation. Teaching the next generation that demonizing a religion is an acceptable way to express political opinions ill prepares Egyptian children for a peaceful future.
Abraham H. Foxman