A newsreader’s embarrassing gaffe was so bad she sat in stunned silence
A newsreader’s embarrassing gaffe was so bad she sat in stunned silence

Newsreader's stunning on-air mistake

The mysterious death of a former world leader in the midst of a high-profile court case made headlines across the world earlier this week, but in the country where he once ruled, you mightn't have heard a thing.

When Egyptians opened their newspapers on Tuesday, the day after their former president Mohammed Morsi died suddenly during his trial on spying charges, the big news of the day was Egypt would be hosting the 2019 African Cup of Nations football tournament.

Readers would have to have been eagle-eyed to see a 42-word (in Arabic) story about the stunning death that was buried in the sections normally reserved for less newsworthy crimes.

The stories were all written in the same way, and they didn't even bother to point out Morsi, 67, had been the nation's first democratically elected leader.

"Mohammed Morsi died yesterday during his trial in an espionage case," the story read. "The deceased asked the judge to speak, and the court gave him permission.

"After the court was adjourned, he fainted and died. The body was transferred to hospital, and the necessary procedures are under way."

The exact same story appeared across all media in Egypt - in print, radio and television - with the exception of one TV station.

That station was Extra News, and its anchor Noha Darwish signed off the story with a seven-word blunder that would make any newsreader's blood run cold.

"This was sent by a Samsung device," she said, before looking confused and embarrassed in a long, awkward pause.

Anti-government website Mada Masr reports every news editor in Egypt was sent the story via Whatsapp by the Government.

There was a long, awkward pause after the gaffe. Picture: Extra News
There was a long, awkward pause after the gaffe. Picture: Extra News

"This came with instructions to place the brief account of Morsi's death on the inside pages as opposed to the front page," the website said, quoting an anonymous newspaper source.

The accusations of media censorship and control comes as Morsi's sudden death is being treated with suspicion around the world.

Overnight, outspoken Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan went as far as to claim the former Egyptian president didn't die of natural causes, but that he was killed.

During a speech in Istanbul, Mr Erdogan cited as evidence the deposed Egyptian president allegedly "flailed" in a Cairo courtroom for 20 minutes on Monday and nobody assisted him.

Mr Erdogan, who is a fierce critic to the government of Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, said Turkey would do everything in its power to ensure Egypt faces trial in Morsi's death.

Mr el-Sissi has yet to comment on Morsi's death. However, Egypt said other nations and the UN human rights office was trying to politicise the issue.

Morsi, who hailed from the now-outlawed Muslim Brotherhood group, was buried under heavy security early on Tuesday, a day after his dramatic collapse.

Morsi was elected president in 2012 in the country's first free elections following the ousting the year before of longtime autocrat Hosni Mubarak.

The military toppled Morsi in 2013 after massive protests against his divisive rule and crushed the Muslim Brotherhood in a major crackdown, arresting Morsi and many others of the group's leaders.

During his years in prison, Morsi, who was known to have diabetes, was often held in solitary confinement and was largely barred from receiving visitors.

His family was only allowed to visit three times. While in detention, Morsi continued to appear in court on a range of charges.

Rupert Colville, spokesman for the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, called on Tuesday for a "prompt, impartial, thorough and transparent investigation" into Morsi's death.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan says the former Egyptian president was murdered. Picture: AP Photo/Emrah Gurel
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan says the former Egyptian president was murdered. Picture: AP Photo/Emrah Gurel

Foreign Ministry spokesman Ahmed Hafez denounced Mr Colville's comments as unacceptable as he tried "deliberately to politicise the natural death" of Morsi during his trial of espionage charges.

Mr Hafez said Mr Colville's "politicised and immature" remarks match those from a country exploiting Morsi's death for political purposes - a likely reference to Turkey.

However, Egyptian rights groups hope that Morsi's death will bring attention to the conditions inside prisons in Egypt.

The Arabic Network for Human Rights Information said they "cannot keep silent on the slow killing of opposition prisoners".

Another rights group, the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights, said Morsi died of "wilful negligence".

It said his death "is an opportunity to shed light on the health conditions inside Egyptian prisons, particularly prisons housing activists and political detainees".


- with wires

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