Friday, August 24, 2012

Free Speech Hangs in the Balance in Egypt

الإفراج عن إسلام عفيفي
Islam Afifi, editor in chief of Al Dostour, released.

Dear readers

I am sure many of you have been following the recent uproar regarding the detention of journalists who have been critical of Mohammed Morsi and the Freedom and Justice Party.

The United States has issued a statement that they are "very concerned" (strong words in diplomatic speak) about the state of media freedom in Egypt. The Egyptian government recently detained Al Dostour's Editor, Islam Afifi, for spreading false news and spreading disorder. Tawfiq Okasha, host of a TV talk show, will go on trial on September 1 for being critical of Mohammed Morsy. His television channel has been stopped from broadcasting. Further, Khaled Hanafy, managing editor of the Al Fajr newspaper was summoned for questioning on charges of defaming the Supreme Guide of the Muslim Brotherhood.

After withering internal and international criticism, in a quick turnaround,  Afifi was released from custody today. Morsy also passed a law (note that there is STILL no parliament in Egypt) disallowing custodial detention for those arrested on publishing related offenses.

I have been concerned about the state of media freedom in Egypt for some time. Although it is promising that Morsy has released Afifi, it is not enough. More safeguards for a free press are needed.

Here is an article I wrote on this exact topic in March 2011.  Although SCAF is no longer in power, these issues remain pressing.

Protecting Freedom of Information in Egypt

Here are some more related articles.

US concerned about media freedom in Egypt

Under New Leadership, Media Face Old Oppressive Policies