Fear For Journalists in Egypt

How a Change in Regime Has Resulted in Widespread Fear

Rachel Froehlich, News Editor

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On U.S. soil, the protection of the press in the Constitution provides security to the nation’s published voices. However, in Egypt, the press does not enjoy that same protection. The number of journalists facing imprisonment in Egypt has slowly risen in the past few years, surpassing all other countries in the Middle East, and ranking just below China and Turkey internationally

“Egypt is experiencing a continued and intensifying war of attrition against opposition figures, revolutionaries, grassroots activists and NGO worker,” said Khaled Diab from Al Jazeera, a Middle Eastern news corporation.

Beginning with a revolution on Jan. 25, 2011, protesting government corruption, poverty and ending with the eventual overthrow of the then President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt has been sent into an era defined by a crackdown on social allegiance to the republic.

Local and international press walk a fine line in Egypt under new President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi’s regime. According to a Freedom House report, the press has a number of laws protecting freedom of expression and publication, but are often overpowered by influential legislative exceptions.

According to the same source, under Article 71 of Egypt’s constitution, media censorship is allowed in times of war and punishment.  In the same article, cause of imprisonment is given to cases that rest upon discrimination and defamation. Individuals who publish dissenting articles that exploit the current regime are subject to criminal charges and imprisonment labeled as a type of “defamation.” Under al-Sisi’s regime, “a media environment in which most public and private outlets are firmly supportive of the regime” is a result of the suppression of dissent.

Earlier this year, three journalists from Al Jazeera, Mohamed Fahmy, Baher Mohamed and Peter Greste, were sentenced to three years in prison on charges of broadcasting false news. According to Matt Schiavenza from The Atlantic, al Sisi “has little tolerance for independent journalism,” and has recently helped pass an Anti-Terrorism law that imposes fines upon individuals who broadcast opinions that stray from the government’s ideals.

Egypt is not the only country abroad to be experiencing governmental directed towards journalists. The Committee to Protect Journalists reports that Egypt has the third highest amount of imprisoned writers. Turkey ranks in the top position with a grand total of 81 journalists, closely followed by China with 38.
Even in the United States the media has undergone a wave of antipathy from the president. The changing of power from one leader to the next comes with social upheaval, and a good portion of the globe has experienced this or will be experiencing it within the next year as European countries enter election season, and the grapple for power in the Middle East increases tensions.

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