Hoax Device and Conspiracy: How the media conspires against Eritrea and the American People

Posted: August 11, 2011 in Anti-stereotyping/racism/xenophobia, [Social] Media
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Although felony charges have already been made to three suspects convicted of trying to pass airport security with a mobile phone strapped to a package of food, there is a much bigger lesson to be learned as to how certain media channels are conspiring to spread distorted information to the American people about terrorism threats and about the country Eritrea.

I came across the first article about the incident when a certain group of confused people, who claim to be part of the so-called Eritrean opposition, had posted it on Facebook and immediately took the opportunity to comment on it by suggesting there must be some type of connection between the incident and the Eritrean government. I read the article and immediately thought to myself, “Why do the names of the suspects not sound Eritrean at all?” I have never heard of any Eritrean that goes by the name Lewiza Deman or Shullu Gorado or Asa Shani; I couldn’t even begin to try to imagine what the root meanings of those names are.

Apparently, Lewiza Deman was given a package of sesame paste by Shullu Gorado to deliver to a friend of his in Iowa, and Asa Shani had strapped a cell phone to that package. Lewiza was caught with the package in her carry-on bag when going through airport security at Sky Harbor Airport, located in Pheonix, Arizona. These immigrants claim that they didn’t know it was illegal to send food through the airport, but investigators are suspicious that the hoax bomb was used as a test to see if they could get past airport security and on a plane with a real bomb. The reality behind this incident lies somewhere in between immigrants not knowing airport security rules and refugees testing whether they can carry on a terrorist plot just in time for the 10th anniversary of 9/11. Either way, myFoxphoenix.com has deceived its readers by saying that the suspects, African refugees, are from Eritrea. The author of the article continues to mention that Eritrea is a country that’s been accused of supporting Islamic terrorist groups.

About an hour after the myFoxphoenix.com article was published, ABC 15 (the ABC network channel for Arizona) published an article about the same incident but with a much different story. The suspects aren’t from Eritrea but from Ethiopia (no wonder their names sounded so unfamiliar), and this time they weren’t cited as refugees but as immigrants. There was also no reference made between their country of origin and the incident, like in the other article where they linked the suspects’ supposed country of origin to accusations that Eritrea supports Islamic terrorist groups.

Some might think this predicament is a simple error or misunderstanding on the part of myFoxphoenix.com, but the repercussions of what has already been said is much more complicated. Surely as an Eritrean, I am infuriated about what seems to be another lame attempt to blacken my country’s image. But more important than how I feel is the continuous lies that are being fed to the American public in regards to where terrorism threats really lie. The media has already spread numerous lies and deceptions about Eritrea supporting Islamic terrorist groups, but I doubt that the American public wants to be deceived into thinking that terrorist threats are coming from countries that don’t support terrorists, especially when in just a month they will be commemorating the 10th anniversary of September 11.

Many Americans do not even know where Eritrea is, let alone her stance on terrorism, so there’s a good chance that most readers would simply trust what myFoxphoenix.com has to say. I bet there are many Americans who don’t know that Eritrea’s population is equally divided between Muslims and Christians and that both religious dominations live in absolute harmony. I bet there’s even more Americans who don’t know that their own government sited Eritrea as a country that could teach America about how to combat terrorism, when the Government of Eritrea warned them, as early as 1994, of the dangerous threat being posed by Osama bin Laden himself as he was recruiting terrorists in the Sudan .

Yes, the American media has deceived its public many-a-time, but let the truth be known: terrorism threats are very real and the American public has the right to receive correct news. You can’t combat terrorism with false information.

It is not easy to reverse the damage already caused by myFoxphoenix.com; surely the misguided perceptions about Eritrea, as well as immigrants and refugees, are already set in the minds of many readers. The fact that major media outlets continuously purport false accusations that Eritrea supports Islamic terrorists doesn’t help the situation at all. But despite this, I’m sure that much can be learned about how certain media channels continue to deceive us with false information. Moreover, further engagement between Eritrea and the United States should take place in our common cause to fight terrorism.

**Message to Eritrean youth around the world: This particular situation is relatively small compared to the bigger challenge we are up against. It is of vital importance that we read the news with politically conscious eyes and are able to challenge such smear campaigns with politically conscious vigor.


  1. Rahwa Tesfai Ghermai says:

    Thank you Rahel. I noticed that when Martin Plaut tweeted his WILLFUL coup hoax some two weeks ago MANY retweeted it but when you and others confirmed that all was infact CALM in Asmera hardly anyone retweeted the TRUTH. Lies are so much more exciting… I guess that is why Winston Churchill once said, “A lie gets halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to get its pants on”… God has blessed Eritrea.

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