Friday, August 17, 2012

Red lines for Egypt’s media

Haroon Siddique, Brian Whitaker and Louisa Loveluck, Friday 17 August 2012

Egypt's President Morsi has come under fire for stifling critical voices in the media. The Committee to Protect Journalists has accused the new government of pushing back against critical coverage, suppressing critical journalists and state-run newspapers, putting a journalist on trial, and attacking three journalists on the street.

CPJ deputy director Robert Mahoney said:

This is a troubling backward step that Egypt's newly-elected President Mohamed Morsi should not be taking. We urge President Morsi to reverse this course immediately and demonstrate his commitment to press freedom.

Last Saturday, copies of the privately-owned daily al-Dostour were confiscated from the paper's offices after a front-page editorial called Morsi a "fascist" and asked the army to "defend the civil state". A Cairo court has since issued a travel ban on the journalist in question who is set to be tried on Wednesday.

Local news outlets reported yesterday that another paper, the state-owned al-Akhbar, will cancel its daily “Free Opinions” column, following the censorship of three articles in a week.

These allegations come just a few weeks after the Shura Council announced the appointments of (largely Islamist) new editors, provoking a storm of protest among journalists.

Perceptions abound that these individuals are largely yes-men – a system of appointments that was well-established under Hosni Mubarak."

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