Friday, 21 February 2014

Media Crackdown in Egypt

THE arrest last Christmas of three Al Jazeera journalists, Mohamed Fadel Fahmy [a Canadian-Egyptian], Baher Mohamed [a young Edyptian producer] and Peter Greste [an Australian], by Egypt's state security is seen by Human Rights advocates as a political crackdown on the independent media.  This is only the latest threat to a free press in Egypt since the military government took power in a coup last summer. 

Among other charges, the journalists have been accused of meeting with sources from the Muslim Brotherhood, which was the legally elected Government and ruling party under President Mohamed Morsi until the military took over last year.  Curiously, the Egyptian regime is justifying its crackdown by comparing it to that of the Obama administeration's unpresidented crackdown on leakers in national security cases.  Something the Egyptian officials are cheerfully drawing attention to.

Other journalists with the English language service of Al Jazeera, which have taken an independent editorial line, have continued to work in Egypt.  But journalists, bloggers, academics and film-makers are being arrested in what human rights activists describe as a major clampdown on free expression in Egypt.  Human Rights Watch has said that the Egyptian authorities in recent months have 'demonstrated almost zero tolerance for any form of dissent.'

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