Egyptian PSA: That Foreigner May Be a Spy

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In today's tour of state-sponsored propaganda: Egyptian TV goes xenophobic, multinational corporations get in bed with North Korea and Cuba shares its reading list. We begin in Egypt.

Egypt's Scary PSAs

Egypt's state TV has always been pretty xenophobic but a new series of PSAs instructing citizens not to speak with foreigners raises the bar. For weeks, state TV has been airing 40-second spots which show a shady-looking non-Egyptian journalist walking into a restaurant and soliciting questions from innocent bystanders. As his shifty eyes dart from one side of the room to another, scary music suggests the man is actually a spy. The Guardian's Patrick Galey describes what happens next:

Approaching three Egyptians for a chat, he listens intently as they reel off apparently secret snippets of information – such as the revelation that Egypt has transportation problems and prices are too high. He sits smiling sweetly as he texts the information back to base from beneath the table.  In a manner reminiscent of old second world war posters, the viewer is informed: "Every word comes with a price. A word can save a nation."

Fortunately, it appears the advertisements have raised the appropriate level of disgust and State TV removed them this week. "The announcements were eventually removed by officials who worried that the point of the videos was being missed. It wasn't," writes Galey. "The adverts are very clearly the continuation of a state TV narrative that existed before last year's revolution. They were not designed to raise public awareness of the various espionage networks that no doubt do operate out of Cairo – they were a warning against foreigners."

North Korea Brags About Gifts from Foreign Corporations

Typically, when foreign corporations lavish gifts on state leaders, it's kept secret as to avoid the appearance of bribery. But in North Korea, why hide such things? Corporations are merely expressing their no-strings-attached support of the leader! That seems to be the mindset, at least, in Pyongyang where state-run news agency KCNA is proud to announce new favors handed to Kim Jong Un:

Recommended Reading

This little news item raises more questions than it answers, including of course, what exactly the gifts were. Cunningham Lindsey purports to be a "global claims management and loss adjusting company" with its headquarters in Florida and Haakon is a Switzerland-based reinsurance intermediary. Why these companies are giving gifts to one of the most autocratic regimes in the world is a good question for their shareholders. We've reached out for a response and will update upon reply. 

Cuba Hawks New Che Guevara Book

When it comes to hawking Cuban products such as rum or cigars, Cuba's state-run news agency is always game. Same goes, apparently, for communist-inspired books. In today's Cuban News Agency headlines, the website is hailing the upcoming release of "Apuntes filosoficos" or Philosophical Notes. "The new book includes writings in three moments of Che's life: notes during his adolescence and early youth; written reflections in Tanzania, Prague and Cuba; and studies on theoretical works Che began to do just after he arrived in Bolivia, according to Cubadebate website." No word yet if the website plans to begin promoting Che T-shirts yet but we'll keep our eyes peeled. 

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.