Lawyer sues Facebook in Egypt, alleging ‘Muslim Brotherhood bias’

Tuesday 26 February 201906:27 am
An Egyptian lawyer has filed a legal complaint with Egypt’s Prosecutor General Nabil Sadeq against Mark Zuckerberg, the billionaire CEO of the world’s leading social media platform, Facebook. The complaint accuses the site of a “lack of neutrality and objectivity” in the dissemination of news pieces on its platform, as well as its “total bias” towards the country’s outlawed Muslim Brotherhood organisation. Ahmed Nabeel Al-Ganzouri, the plaintiff behind the complaint and a lawyer and professor in criminal law at Cairo’s Ain Shams University, told Raseef22 that he “noticed that Facebook leans shamelessly towards members of the Muslim Brotherhood,” especially those outside of Egypt, accusing the site of “allowing them to set up many pages that do nothing but disseminate lies about the Egyptian state.” In the aftermath of the 2011 uprising which overthrew former dictator Hosni Mubarak, the country’s military overthrew his elected successor Mohammed Morsi, a member of the Muslim Brotherhood, in 2013, and has since outlawed the group as a ‘terrorist’ organisation. Al- Ganzouri said his complaint was lodged out of a “purely patriotic basis.” The contents of the legal complaint charge Facebook with “committing dangerous crimes against the Egyptian people through false claims,” describing the social media giant as an “unobjective website, [which] does not accurately reflect the pulse of the Egyptian populace.” According to the lawyer, “Facebook is the most widespread social media platform and the most influential with Egypt’s youth.” Indeed, the country’s official statistics from 2018 revealed that 50 million Egyptians use the internet, including 38 million users on Facebook. The complaint goes on to accuse Facebook of “playing a dangerous role in misleading the youth and society and inciting strife, and intentionally hides away those writers that support the stability of the state and the preservation of its judicial and security institutions.”

Zuckerberg ‘sparked the Arab Spring’

Al Ganzouri repeated a claim which can be commonly found today within Egyptian media, namely that the Arab Spring uprisings were a foreign conspiracy orchestrated by a clandestine partnership between Western governments and the Muslim Brotherhood, in which social media sites and NGOs also played a key role. “Facebook is not just a social communications platform as it always pretends, but is closer to an intelligence apparatus with many goals which include dividing and sabotaging states,” he said. The protests in early 2011 in Egypt were backed by a call made by a Facebook page set up by Egyptian activists named “We are all Khaled Said”. The page asked Egyptians to go to the streets to protest police brutality on the 25th of January – the country’s annual police anniversary. The page was named after a young Egyptian tortured to death by security forces, whose brutal killing helped ignite the uprising which overthrew Egypt’s former president Hosni Mubarak. According to Al- Ganzouri, the page “cost Egypt 1,000 security personnel” in 2011. He said: “We saw the Facebook apparatus run wild in our lands without constraints or restrictions since 2011, and we all followed how millions promoted a page belonging to the international organisation of the Muslim Brotherhood, and this was used to inflame the Egyptian street.” The Prosecutor General’s office has not yet announced an expected date to begin investigating Al Ganzouri’s complaint.
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