Egyptian media can be some of the wildest in the Middle East, bar none, when it comes to toeing the official line. Remember when the once-venerable Al-Ahram, the big banana of Egyptian newspapers, doctored photos of world leader to put Hosni Mubarak at the front? They are doing even more now.
One headline I saw yesterday: “Muslim brothers caught with ‘certificates’ of Takhabur (تخابُر) with Hamas”. (تخابُر is a broad Arabic word that can have any of several connotations: communicating; contacting; exchanging information).
‘Certificates of Takahbur‘: imagine how far you can go in telling your people how stupid you believe they are, maybe not in so many words. This “Takhabur” in Arabic is a recent twist of the term that Arab regimes (and their controlled media) have been using against their foes and against those they don’t like or suspect.
Takhabur: “communicating, exchanging news or information but also perhaps ideas” or “talking to”. You can get arrested for takhabur with The Onion or with Mad Magazine or with the CIA or the Mossad or Dhahi Khalfan, even with your next door neighbor, if they want to get you.
Anyway, they twist things to make it sound so sinister in a way that some regimes can do with impunity. The Egyptian military regime has even brought the charge of “takhabur” against president Morsi, and he was the president of the country! He was supposed to do “takhabur” with leaders and countries, just like any other head of state! Imagine how much ‘takhabur‘ Generalisimo Field Marshal Al Sisi is doing now with oily princes and potentates? How else could he do his job?
Now they are piling on Caliph Erdogan of Turkey, but that is okay: the Turkish Caliph ensconced in his billion-dollar palace deserves it. Suddenly the Egyptians are strongly pro-Greek on the Cyprus issue and on any other issues that come to their mind. They might even award ancient Troy to the Greeks, again. The Greeks must be amused.
Takhabur. A simple Arabic word has acquired terrifying connotations and meanings in the hands of Arab depots and potentates and their security agents and kangaroo courts. Journalists, former officials, dissidents, and doubters can spend many years in prison because of that word. From the Persian Gulf to the stagnant Nile, from Manama to Cairo, the regimes are using it to get you.
Remember the word: takhabur. Other non-Arab regimes in the Middle East (Iran, Turkey, Kurds, maybe Israel?) also use their own version of it to intimidate, but it sounds so pregnant with meanings and connotations in the Arabic language. So threatening on multiple levels.
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum