Who is Travis Randall: the lies from Egypt
Travis Randall the blogger. Travis Randall the activist. Travis Randall the … American? The story of Randall’s detention and subsequent banishment from Egypt is well-known. Bikya broke the story on Twitter and in an article the morning of his departure from the Cairo International Airport September 2. Bikya has then attempted to rectify the ongoing blatant lies and poor reporting on who this man is, in an article explaining the difference between a citizen and an activist/blogger. Another identified humorously how titles can get thrown around too easily by the media.
But, the message seems to have fallen on deaf ears. Even the so-called independent Egyptian press are writing these lies as if they are fact, creating a myth about the life of Randall, who had worked as an editor for an environmental NGO in Cairo and was a freelance writer for a lifestyle magazine here in Cairo. He is not an activist, although he attended a demonstration in February that received much international press due to the arrest of German-Egyptian Philip Rizk. He is not a blogger, although he does, technically, have a blog. The last post made before the incident earlier this month was two years ago. Not much of a blogger, eh?
Fahmy Howeidy, in an op-ed in the independent al-Shorouk newspaper once again wrote the lies contrary to what Randall himself has been saying. In his article published September 10, the renowned writer and thinker said a “security source said that the man was engaged in banned political activity through his blog, where he used to criticize Egypt’s decisions to keep the Rafah crossing closed.”
There is no mention that this is a blatant lie, a non-fact, not reality. Randall has written nothing of the sort on his blog. Why doesn’t Mr. Howeidy mention this in his article? All it would have taken was a few clicks of the mouse and a visit to the blog to see this is not true.
The article continues to quote the source as saying “he [Randall] used to criticize Egypt’s decision to keep the Rafah crossing closed … that the man [Randall] had already participated in a demonstration in support of the Palestinian people, was arrested at the time, where he was held for 12 hours at the headquarters of the State Security Investigation, until a delegate from the American Embassy took him”
Wow, that is news to Randall and those who actually followed the February march. Rizk was taken unceremoniously by police while the rest of the others, Randall included, waited outside the main gate. While it did last hours, Randall was never formally arrested and no American official showed up and “took him” from the area. This misinformation is simply erroneous and Howeidy should no better than to trust the Egyptian government. Why the lies? And why allow these lies to continue?
Then, there are the minor issues that Howeidy obviously has no clue on, but seems to think he can write them as if they are fact.
“Travis Randall, who has been living in Cairo for two and a half years as a freelance writer, has returned to Cairo on Thursday, flew in from Colorado in the United States, was arrested at the airport and [they] tell him that his name is included on the list of those barred from entering the country. After being held in a cell for 12 hours, was then escorted to a flight to London.”
It is mind boggling that these facts are all wrong. Randall flew into Cairo on Tuesday night, from London – where he had spent the past few days – and was not given a reason for his deportation until days after.
Where is the justice? Where is the honesty? Even the LA Times got into the mix by calling Randall a blogger and journalist. Maybe a journalist, yes, but a blogger, no way!
The continued denial of the facts by Egyptian, and some foreign media, shows the dark days that exist when covering an incident such as this. Everyone appears ready to put Randall on “their team” and create facts where they don’t exist. While Howeidy does condemn what occurred, the reality is, he doesn’t know the facts to condemn. A sad state for journalism this has revealed.