In today's tour of state-sponsored propaganda: lady astronauts have it hard in China, Egypt TV smears the Tahrir Square movement and Saudi Arabia mourns the death of a crown prince. We begin in China.
China's Rules for Lady Astronauts
China's state-run media has been in overdrive the last few days promoting the country's blossoming space program. Not only is the space mission, which took off Saturday, China's first manned docking mission but it's also the first mission with a woman onboard. Still, celebrating the accomplishment of astronaut Liu Yang has resulted in some eye-raising coverage from state-run outlets such as The Global Times. Alongside the paper's special report "Launching Shenzhou-9," for instance, the paper lists all the obstacles Liu had to overcome to fly in space.
The checklist, which prohibits "scars" and "bad mouth odor" includes a Q&A with questions like "Why should they have no mouth odor, scars or foot diseases?" Good question! Answer: "A bad mouth odor may annoy other astronauts, and scars may bleed in outer space." Obviously! This isn't the first time China's peculiar rules for astronauts made headlines but it's certainly an odd policy to emphasize in wake of its first woman blasting off into space. Hey people, this lady has great breath.
Egyptian TV airs Anti-Tahrir ad
It's long been known that Egyptian state TV is not only xenophobic but deeply in bed with the country's ruling military. But now, with the military asserting greater control over the country, it's ramping up its anti-reform messaging with a new TV ad, according to Al Arabiya's Eman El-Shenawi. "The advert, recently broadcast on state television, shows an Egyptian man telling someone on the phone about the then current state of protests in Tahrir Square, the iconic birthplace of the uprising that ultimately led to the ouster of former president Hosni Mubarak last year," El-Shenawi writes:
“It’s only slightly busy,” the man says in the advert. But the person at the other end of the line is seen to immediately pick up a phone he has in his other hand and pass on the message, in an exaggerating tone: “the Square is full to the brim.”
Then, seemingly in “Chinese Whispers” fashion, the call is received by a third man who is seen sitting at his computer in a dark, ominous room. He types a few sentences, which appear to be posted on a social networking site: “Help us! The country is engulfed!”
Far from the most atrocious propaganda out there, the PSA sends the somewhat subtle message that Tahrir Square hype is over-rated.
Saudi Arabia Mourns the Death of a Crown Prince
The mysterious and aging regime in Saudi Arabia took a blow over the weekend with the death of the interior minister and Crown Prince Naif bin Abdulaziz, who was the second heir apparent to die in the last nine months. Today, The New York Times reports that defense minister Salman bin Abdulaziz has been officially named the crown prince. However, on the state-owned Saudi Press Agency website, the lede story is the funeral of Abdulaziz. You can see pictures and captions of the event below:
The Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al Saud performed, together with other worshippers, at the Holy Mosque in Makkah after Maghreb (sunset) prayer today funeral prayer for Crown Prince Naif bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, Deputy Premier and Minister of Interior.
The Royal Court issued today the following statement: "With deep sorrow and grief, the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, announced the death of his brother, Crown Prince Naif bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, Deputy Premier and Minister of Interior, who passed away on Saturday abroad. A funeral prayer will be performed for his soul at the Holy Mosque in Makkah after Maghreb (sunset) prayer on Sunday. The Royal Court condoles the Saudi people on the deceased prince, praying to Allah Almighty to bless his soul and to reward him for his services to his religion and homeland''.