Tuesday, May 24, 2016

EgyptAir MS804: Denial is not just a river in Egypt

Artwork by Tarek Chemaly based on a Deborah Phares copyrighting
EgyptAir, which has denied in the past that its pilot deliberately crashed one of its planes killing 217 people, seems to be taking the same path with the currently crashed MS804 - however, the world today is different than 1999. People are now accustomed to getting up to the minute information - not just from news channels like before - but from constantly updated social media accounts.
In 1999, it took three years for the investigation to be completed and for Egypt - most likely due to suicide not being seen in a good light in Arab cultures - to issue its denial of the scientific conclusions. Now, it's chaos running rampant.
Yes the plane crashed, no it did not. Yes, there was an explosion, no there was not. Yes the plane did swerve, no it did not. Yes the black boxes have been located, no they were not. Yes the pilot spoke to the tower minutes before the crash, no he did not. And the statements, anti-statements, retracted statements, modified statements are going wild.
International media, used to a more logical path of communication, are publishing, retracting, changing by the minute totally puzzled by the way the statements are being issued and then denied by the same sources.
Egypt has been struggling to regain its tourism back, partly because of its internal political turmoil, but the communication policy of veiled opacity, which was working for a long time for Arab regimes no longer has a merit at this stage.
As things stand - and considering lives from different nationalities have been lost - Egypt and the way it is communicating this tragedy appears to be somewhere between infantile and irresponsible - not to mention swinging between undignified and perplexing. Egypt has been running a campaign to lure tourists back, but such missteps in communication are not doing it any favor.