Sarah Abdurrahman is a producer for On the Media
Continuing the Legacy of Censorship in Egypt
Thursday, September 29, 2011 - 07:03 PM
This has not been a very good week for the press in Egypt.
On Saturday, authorities confiscated that day’s issue of the newspaper Sawt Al-Ummah because it contained a report about corruption in the Egyptian Public Intelligence. Three days later, another paper, Rose Al-Youssef, was prevented from publishing an investigative report about an Israeli spy in Egypt who ousted president Hosni Mubarak refused to arrest back in 1997.
In April, we spoke to Gamal Eid, Executive Director of the Arab Network for Human Rights Information, which released a statement this week condemning these violations of press freedom. Eid told us back then that the press wasn’t even allowed to report accurately on the Six-Day War with Israel, an event that took place more then 40 years ago.
Today, the offices of an Al Jazeera affiliate in Cairo were raided by security officials for the second time this month. In this video posted on Al Jazeera’s live blog, a female journalist at the offices of Al Jazeera Mubasher Miser (Al Jazeera Egypt Live) tries to push the plain clothes security officers to show their faces and their search orders:
On top of that, the Egyptian Information Ministry said yesterday that it’s not granting new permits to satellite channels and will prosecute any satellite channels that could threaten Egypt’s stability.
And also this week, the Egypt’s Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, which has been in charge since Mubarak stepped down, banned the press from reporting on testimony by its chief at Mubarak’s trial. All of this, along with the continued harassment and detainment of bloggers and journalists, is prompting comparisons between censorship under the military council and censorship under Mubarak before the revolution.
A few weeks ago, we checked back in with Khaled Dawoud, a reporter for the newspaper Al-Ahram who we also first met back in April when OTM was in Cairo. He told us that in the aftermath of the revolution, “people expected more transparency” than they saw under Mubarak, and that “the military council proved to be impatient with…criticism.”
The other day, I was speaking to an Egyptian restaurant owner here in New York about the next steps following the Arab Spring. He compared what is happening in Egypt now to what happens when garbage collects on the street for 30-plus years—even after you clear the garbage away, it will take some time before the stench is gone. Unfortunately, the state of media freedom in Egypt still stinks.