Bahgat's tweet was not welcomed by his followers and most social media users, as Bahgat himself, despite being an "investigative journalist", did not check the accuracy of the NYT article – Photo compiled by Egypt Today/Mohamed Zain
CAIRO – 11 January 2018: A wave of public anger was triggered at a New York Times article written by correspondent David D. Kirkpatrick on Jan. 6 claiming that audio recordings of an Egyptian intelligence officer were leaked, in which the officer instructs several Egyptian TV hosts and celebrities how to comment on Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as an Israeli capital.
Part of this anger was not only directed towards the U.S. newspaper, it also reached to figures and people who believed the alleged leaks to be true and even circulated it as real news.
"After hearing the second part of the records, I think the New York Times has to apologies to its readers and withdraw its report about the "Jerusalem leaks"," Human rights advocate and journalist Hossam Bahgat wrote on Twitter.
On the contrary, Bahgat's tweet was not welcomed by his followers and most social media users, as Bahgat himself, despite being an "investigative journalist", did not check the accuracy of the article and shared it on his social media accounts as real news.
@sarafahmmy replied to Bahgat's tweet by saying that a simple apology is not enough; "Just an apology? An apology is not enough for such an international newspaper to fabricate news; Do not we have the right to sue and expose this newspaper?"
Another Twitter user, @YasminMahfouz, thinks that Bahgat has to apologize as well; "You too Mr. Hossam is demanded to apologize because you fell into the same trap and circulated the leaks yourself as an indisputable fact.
On Jan. 6, Bahgat wrote a post about the claimed "leaks"; "The New York Times got leaked phone records of Captain Ashraf El Kholy with Azmy Megahed, Mofeed Fawzy, Yousra and Saeid Hasaseen. Instructions were to convince the audience to accept Trump's recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital," Bahgat tweeted finishing his words with a smiley face.
Almost all of the replies that Bahgat's tweet attracted mocked and slandered him; Twitter users would call him a "sheep", a "stupid" and a "donkey" for believing the so-called leaks and for doubting Egypt's leading role in the Jerusalem case.
On April 1, a communiqué read by Arab League Secretary General Ahmed Aboul Gheit during the 28th Arab League summit discouraged all countries from recognizing Jerusalem as Israel's capital or moving their embassies there.
“The League stresses its insistence to initiate serious and dynamic peace talks to end the Palestinian-Israeli conflict,” Aboul Gheit said. “Achieving safety and stability requires a settlement based on a two-state solution and the establishment of an independent Palestinian state, based on the 1967 borders, with East Jerusalem as its capital,” he added.
The pre-1967 border is a demarcation line set in 1949 according to an agreement between Israel and Egypt, Lebanon, Jordan and Syria; it was signed after the 1948 Arab-Israeli war.
On Dec. 21, 2017, 128 countries voted on December 21 in favor of a United Nations General Assembly resolution calling for the United States to drop its December 6 recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital.
The draft resolution was submitted by Egypt to the UN to call on U.S. administration to reverse its decision regarding the recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel
Ambassador of Palestine to Egypt and its Permanent Representative to the Arab League Diab al-Louh lauded the Egyptian diplomacy that “succeeded in managing the Palestinian crisis.”
In a seminar in Ain Shams University on Jan. 1, Louh said that Egypt could convince 128 countries to vote against U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
The Egyptian stance had already been clarified by the President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi, Minister of Foreign Affairs and through official statements and positions.
Egypt’s position on the issue has been clear since Trump’s announcement. Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry stated on December 13, 2017, during his speech at the Organization of Islamic Cooperation summit that Egypt condemns Trump’s unilateral decision on Jerusalem because it violates international legitimacy.
Egyptian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Ahmed Abu Zeid published on his Twitter account excerpts from Shoukry’s speech saying, “Egypt deplores the unilateral American decision that violates international legitimacy. The stability of the region and the world cannot bear any uncalculated action against Jerusalem and it will not be achieved in light of indifference toward the feelings of millions of Arabs, Muslims and Christians.”
He also added that “the Jerusalem issue should be based on justice in the face of the policies of violence and rewarding the occupier.... No party has the right to violate international law and historical rights to legitimize the annexation of land.”
Shoukry stated that Egypt does not accept dealing with Jerusalem outside the scope of international legitimacy, and that the Egyptian people will not tolerate any violation of the rights of the Palestinian people.
“We have a historical and moral responsibility to take a stance that satisfies our conscience and meets the aspirations of our nations ... We must stand strong and refuse to turn the world into a jungle in which the occupier defeats unarmed people. Egypt, which has committed itself since 1948 to defend the rights of the Palestinian people and has exerted immense effort to defend them with all its strength, will be at the forefront of any Arab, regional or international action to reject any attempt, legitimizing the reality of the occupation of Jerusalem.”
In a similar vein, the Grand Mufti of the Republic of Egypt, Shawki Allam, stated on December 22, 2017, “It is clear that Jerusalem’s heritage must be defended strongly for all eternity, especially since evidence ties both sacred mosques (al-masjedayn al-haram) and Al-Aqsa in the heart of every Muslim.”
The statement came during an interview with Allam on “Hewar Al-Mufti” (A Conversation with the Mufti) program on ON LIVE channel. Allam further added that Jerusalem is “deeply entrenched in every Muslim and Arab individual’s consciousness, as it is also in every Christian’s consciousness as well.” Allam asserted that Jerusalem is a sacred site for every heavenly religion and will remain Arabic as “God intended.”
“Trump’s decision has trodden over all international relations and their boundaries,” he emphasized during the interview.
Allam stressed that Egypt’s role in solving the Palestinian issue is pivotal. “Egypt is the leader of the cause and has taken charge of it. The Jerusalem question cannot be solved without Egypt’s endeavors.”
Furthermore, Egypt’s position is also clear through the decision of its religious leaders not to meet Vice-President Mike Pence. Pope Tawadros of Alexandria rejected to meet with U.S. Vice-President Pence, who was set to visit Egypt on December 20, 2017, according to an announcement by Egypt’s Coptic Orthodox Church in a statement.
“In the light of the recent decision taken by the U.S. administration regarding Jerusalem, which was issued at an inappropriate time and made in disregard to the sentiments of millions of Arab, the Egyptian Coptic Orthodox Church apologizes that it will not receive Mr. Mike Pence, Vice President of the United States during his visit slated for December,” the statement read.
Similarly, Al-Azhar Grand Imam Ahmed Al-Tayeb announced his rejection to meet with Pence, saying “How can I sit with those who granted what they do not own to those who do not deserve it?”
Twitter user @LTCahmedali called upon Bahgat to be honest about what he circulates, as a journalist.
@monyassem66 replied to Bahgat by saying, "I was amazed by how smart you are, I just realized why you are being funded and is a revolutionary and an activist; because foreigners choose people like you."
On Sep. 17, 2016, the Cairo Criminal Court upheld the asset freeze on Bahgat, along with four others in a case dubbed as the "foreign funding trial" on charges they received a total of $1.5 million in "illegal funds from foreign entities."
Attorney General Nabil Sadeq ordered investigations into the story published by the New York Times alleging Egyptian officials are supporting the U.S. decision on Jerusalem.
The attorney general’s statement said that the article published by the U.S. newspaper would compromise security and public peace, and harm the public interest in Egypt.