World Report - Egypt
|Publisher||Reporters Without Borders|
|Publication Date||24 September 2011|
|Cite as||Reporters Without Borders, World Report - Egypt, 24 September 2011, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/4b7aa9b728.html [accessed 9 March 2014]|
|Disclaimer||This is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.|
- Area: 1,001,450 sq. km.
- Population: 82,000,000
- Language: Arabic
- Head of State: Mohammed Hussein Tantawi, acting chairman of the Supreme Council of the Armed forces since President Hosni Mubarak left office on 11 February
After 30 years in office, President Hosni Mubarak gave up power on 11 February 2011 and handed over to the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces. Taking advantage of the revolution, some publications have taken a dramatically different editorial line. There is real freedom of expression. However, the military remains a taboo subject. Many journalists and netizens have to answer for their work before military courts.
A page of history on was turned 11 February when Mubarak gave up power after two weeks of bloody repression. Six months on, disillusioned Egyptians are wondering what happened to their dream of a democratic Egypt whose government respects human rights. The sit-in at Tahrir Square, a place that symbolizes highly the revolution, which began at the end of June to draw attention to the policies of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, was called off a few days after the former president went on trial. Elections originally scheduled for September 2011 were postponed until November.
The print media is well-provided with titles. Admittedly, most follow the government line, such as Al-Ahram, Al-Akhbar and Al-Gomhuria. However, there exists a genuine opposition press of which the daily Al-Wafd and the weeklies Al-Ahali and Al-Ghad are the best examples.
The independent press is increasingly in evidence, such as the dailies Al Masry Al Youm, Al-Dustour, Al-Shorouk, Al-Youm Al-Sabe, as well as the weekly Al-Fajr and the weekly edition of Al-Dustour. Only one new newspaper has been launched since the revolution, Tahrir, edited by Ibrahim Issa, who was sacked from Al-Dustour for criticizing the previous government.
On the broadcasting front, there are more than 50 television stations. Two new stations have been set up since the revolution: Tahrir, also run by Issa, and the Muslim Brotherhood's Egypt 25. The many Arabic-language satellite channels also find favour with viewers, such as Al-Jazeera, which deploys vast technical resources to obtain exclusive footage as was seen during the revolution.
A state of emergency first imposed in 1981 is still force and will remain in place until June 2012, the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces has announced. It permits the use of censorship, although this is banned under the constitution.
During the Mubarak era, the state of emergency was not widely used to control the press. More traditional and insidious means were preferred.
When the former president's trial opened at the beginning of August, the military stuck to the old methods of censorship and intimidation, declaring that there would be "no tolerance of insults" directed towards it.
Many journalists and bloggers who tried to expose atrocities carried out by some elements of the armed forces and the military police during the pro-democracy uprising were put on trial before military courts. The list of such cases continues to grow...
The blogger Maikel Nabil Sanad was sentenced on 10 April to three years' imprisonment, making him the first prisoner of conscience in Egypt since the revolution. He was accused of insulting the armed forces, publishing false information and disturbing the peace for having published a report on his blog casting doubt on the army's perceived neutrality during the demonstrations in January and February. The report said soldiers took part in the arrest, detention and torture of demonstrators. He began a hunger strike on 23 August to draw attention to his detention.
In addition, the blogger Botheina Kamel was summoned for questioning by the national military court on 15 May shortly after criticizing the army on the station Nile TV.
The blogger Hossam Al-Hamalawy and journalists Rim Magued and Nabil Sharaf Al-Din were questioned for almost three hours on 31 May, about their appearances on the station ON-TV. Five days earlier, Al-Hamalawy, speaking on Magued's programme, had accused military police of violating human rights and the next day Sharaf Al-Din spoke of the possibility of an alliance between the Muslim Brotherhood and the army as part of a political transition.
Rasha Azab, a reporter for the newspaper Al-Fajr, was summoned before a military prosecutor on 19 June, accused of publishing false information liable to disturb public security. She could face a jail sentence. Her editor Adel Hammuda, was accused of negligence in his role as editor and faces a possible fine. In an article published in Al-Fajr on June 12, Azab reported on a meeting between Cairo military commander Gen. Hassan Al-Ruwaini, a member of the Supreme Council, and activists from a group called "No military trials for civilians" about the torture of demonstrators by military police.
The journalist quoted some of the general's comments, including an apology he reportedly made to a female demonstrator attending the meeting. Al-Ruwaini said the Al-Fajr report was inaccurate.
Dina Abd-Al Rahman, presenter of the Dream TV programme Sabah Dream was fired on 25 July after getting into an argument with a former air force officer during a live broadcast.
The Supreme Council decided on 14 August, to prosecute the blogger Asmaa Mahfouz on charges of inciting violence, spreading false information, disturbing public order and defaming the Supreme Council in messages she posted on the Internet. The outcry over this announcement was such that it reversed the decision a few days later.
The government-run media have launched a large-scale smear campaign against Egyptian NGOs that receive aid from the United States. The campaign, directed only at organizations that have been critical of the Supreme Council, threatens the future of many human rights groups in Egypt.
Updated 24 September 2011