When journalists are in fear

Posted: August 17, 2012 in Uncategorized

By Abdallatif Elmenawy

In my last published article I raised the following question: “where is Egypt heading?” and it seems that the answer is progressively emerging in light of the two scenarios that are the most likely to happen on the political scene.

The first scenario is reflected by the full swing empowerment series in all institutions; while the second scenario is underlined by the attempt to impose a certain level of balance in political powers in order to preserve the civil state. However, it seems that the first scenario has gained ground by overthrowing the one and only power that was supposed to conserve the rest of the powers in the civil state. Therefore, the Islamic Group is now responsible of the whole country.

In my last report as well, I pointed and warned against the procedures that might target media by launching intimidation and silencing campaigns. Legal means and al Qaeda militias are likely to be used to impose this state of intimidation, which began to be the case in reality.

I remember what one of the most prominent opinion leaders in Egypt had told me lately; “I am afraid”. And I recall that when I condemned the shutdown of a channel, I said that I was expressing a fix stance to which I was committed under all sorts of conditions. I have always criticized these practices when implemented by the former regime that, despite all its flaws, used to welcome criticism.

The current incidents are causing a state of real concern regarding the future of the freedom of expression in Egypt and underline the serious fears that have been simmering over the last period. These fears were mainly linked to the concepts of public freedom and the freedom of expression in light of the current adopted procedures that hinder these freedoms. These fears are emerging despite the statements that we heard in the following period where the Islamic group confirms its commitment to the freedom of expression and its serious efforts to guarantee spaces for the expression of opinion and ideas. In this context, it is probably judicious to point to the report issued by the Forum for Development and Human Rights Dialogue in which the forum condemns the series of violations committed lately and that denies all international instruments and national legislations. The forum insists that these violations have reduced the value of the freedom of press and information as democratic standards in political systems and as an indicator that reveals serious fears from attacking public freedoms due to the arrival of Islamists to power in Egypt.

The report detected the main significant violations where a newspaper has been seized, two writers have been banned from publishing articles and a satellite channel has been closed. Moreover, a journalist has been attacked and the monitoring apparatus of the ministry of interior had visited the printing offices of “Al Joumhouriyya” newspaper and asked to review the pages of “Al Zankat” newspaper, few hours after its printing, after the apparatus had received information saying that the newspaper was about to publish journalistic material that dishonor the president of the republic, Dr. Muhammad Mursi. The report also states that “Al Ahram” newspaper has banned the publication of an article written by author and attorney Tharwat Al Kherbawi, tackling the civil state in Islam and entitled: “I wish our governors would understand”. The article was banned without any justification. In addition to these violations, the office of the former editor in chief of “Akhbar Al Adab” newspaper, Abla Al Rouwayni, has been stormed and her article was banned from publishing in Al Akhbar newspaper because she refused to omit the expression “the journalism brotherhoodation” from her article, in a reference to the changes imposed on journalism by Al Shura Council and that lead to her expulsion from her one and a half year position as editor in chief of “Akhbar Al Adab.”

Furthermore, “Al Farain” channel has been closed for 6 weeks and was advised to refrain from implementing its previous practices. Journalist Khaled Salah, was attacked at the forth gate in the media production city by a group of young men who claimed to be members of the brotherhood and were shouting against the “converted journalists” as they prevented him from entering the gate and totally smashed his car.

These are some of the incidents that happened over the last two weeks and that cause serious concerns over freedoms. We have always called for and believed in the establishment of a true civil state and hoped that the changes witnessed by the country would push towards laying the foundations of this state. It is true that some initiatives were doomed to fail, however there are always efforts aiming at the success of this state. Sadly, till now, it seems that winds do not blow as ships desire them to in order to sail towards the horizons of a true civil state. It seems that till now, the Egyptian ship is sailing adverse winds.

(The Arab version of this article was published by Egypt’s al-Masry al-Youm on Aug. 16, 2012 and translated by Alarabiya news)

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