A black week for press and expression freedoms in Egypt
The Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI) considered the current week a “black week for freedom of press and expression in Egypt”, during it the license of “Ibda”e”, an important Egyptian and Arabic Magazine, is cancelled on April7th, followed by “Elbadeel” newspaper declaration of stopping their daily edition and starting a weekly one as a result of the international financial crises. Moreover the “censorship on printed materials” confiscated the last issue of “share”e alsahafaa” newspaper, which contained a special report on “Succession in Egypt” .
Regardin “Ibda”e magazine, the administrative court decided to cancel its license after a “Hesba” case filed by a lawyer, though the magazine is a state owned issued by the culture ministry. The reason behind this case was publishing a poem considered to be insulting god and aroused discussions among intellectuals and religious figures. The poem is titled; “Shorfat Laila Morad”. The harsh verdict was taken although the magazine issue which contained the poem was confiscated. The network considered this verdict a cruel blow against freedom to expression in Egypt, and against the culture minister who is trying to head the UNESCO, the most important cultural institution in the world.
Yesterday, and as a result of the deep financial crises, Elbadeel newspaper printed its last daily issue after many trials to continue and survive. But the crises and the siege imposed by the state depriving the newspaper from having any advertisements obligated the newspaper to stop, which is considered by ANHRI as a great loss to serious independent journalism in Egypt.
Today, because of special reportage on succession in Egypt, the administration of censorship on foreign printed materials confiscated the eighth issue of “Share”e alsahafa”, which is a newspaper obligated to obtain a foreign license such as many other Egyptian newspapers as a result of the obstacles imposed in issuing newspapers” licenses in Egypt. As usual the confiscation came with no official decision or comment or even clarification from the censorship administration.
“the disaster is not only in stopping three important publications, but in considering this as a common event, which is not. It is a tough blow against freedom to expression and press in Egypt and against every activist interested in those freedoms all over the world”, The Arabic Network for Human Rights Information said.
“The daily governmental financial loss in an institution such as rosalyousef newspaper could have covered Elbadeel expenses for a month. Noting that Elbadeel represent vast and different social categories in Egypt, while rosalyousef only represent the policy making Secretariat in the ruling National Democratic Party. This is what matters for the government rather that freedom to press and expression.”, ANHRI added.
It is to be noted that, the legislation defect represented in keeping silent regarding the “Hesba” cases is turned now against the state itself after the case against Ibda”e. for this the network hope that what happened to the important state owned magazine is considered by the state as an alarm bell that clarifies the dangers of keeping silent regarding those cases.
ANHRI reiterates its demands to allow the absolute right to launch newspaper and the cancellation of the censorship administration completely, so that confiscation a newspaper or delaying its issues would not be a matter of a pen stroke by an employee or a police officer or even an oral decision.