Who’s public diplomacy is this?
A billboard at Cairo’s international airport quotes the President of the United States: ‘We must educate our children to become like young Egyptian people. . .’ What does this mean? When did the president say it? Did he really say it at all? If so, why?
Unidentified American visitors descending the escalator to the baggage claim area took the two photos illustrating this site. Different photos of the same billboard have appeared on various blogs from a variety of political perspectives.
The close-up photo is from Godfatherpolitics.com. I don’t know this site and can’t vouch for it, but am crediting it only because it shows the clearest image of the quote, as the billboard appears to be genuine. The second image is from my colleague Andrew Bostom, who received a separate photo, which is the one of the entire billboard.
The message does not appear to be part of an official US public diplomacy campaign, as it attributes the quote to “President of the USA, Barack Obama.”
Is the quote real? The billboard has been up since last year. In November 2011, the British Council Morocco director observed the signs, part of an advertising campaign by Mobinil, an Egyptian cell phone company. Two other signs, one with a quote attributed to Austrian President Heinz Fischer and another to former Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi, feature other effusive comments.
What is the origin of the quote? My cursory search traces it to the English-language Muslim Brotherhood’s website, Ikhwanweb.com, on February 16, 2011.
A Google search doesn’t show that any significant news organization picked up on the billboard story.