Differences in portrayal of Khaled Said

Although one of the articles mentioned that the Facebook campaign did not portray Khaled Said as he really was, I was surprised to find so many differences in his portrayal when comparing the two scholarly articles. David Faris writes that Said “appeared to be a clean-cut businessman with no prior police record” (Faris, 2013, 12) and thereby only mentions the public image that was created in the “We Are All Khaled Said” campaign. Ali and El-Sharnouby, however, state that Said was not as two-dimensional as he appeared in the media. While he was the ordinary, warmhearted guy that the media portrayed him to be, he also served time in military prison for not completing his military service and consumed illegal drugs.

In showing this more comprehensive image of Said, Ali and El-Sharnouby manage to show how the campaign managed to gain that many followers and they reveal its strengths and weaknesses. In Faris’ article, Said appears to be the guy the media portrays him to be and therefore the text only offers an incomplete understanding. Faris furthermore makes Said appear to have died because of his social media activities (uploading a sousveillance video), whereas Ali and El-Sharnouby claim that Khaled Said was sold out to and beaten up by the police after being lured into buying drugs and going to a cybercafé by a friend. Which story is made public about Said’s death makes an important difference about how he is perceived and how unjust his murder appears. Of course killing someone is never right, but the less outraged reactions of the people who knew about Said’s life and drug-consumption show that he might not have become such a unifying figure for protest if people did not perceive him as a person with a clean slate. His death might not have appeared as unwarranted to them as the death of an activist trying to fight injustice.

I furthermore found it very interesting that both articles claim different people to be the creators of the Facebook campaign. According to Faris, the creator was Google executive Wael Ghonim whereas Ali and El-Sharnouby attribute the role of creator to cyberactivist Abdelrahman Mansour, but also mention that Ghonim played an important role. However, the “We Are All Khaled Said” Facebook site itself states: “This page does NOT represent Khaled Said’s family and is NOT run by Wael Ghonim. It has been created and always been run by other administrators.” So is the information given in the articles simply wrong or does Ghonim’s participation have to be denied officially for his own protection?

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Differences in portrayal of Khaled Said