Two hundred journalists in Egypt are rebelling against a policy declaration made last week by their newspaper editors. The declaration requires journalists to blindly support the State’s affairs and bans journalists from criticizing the police, army and judiciary in their publications.
In the statement that has caused so much uproar among journalists, their editors stated that measures would be taken to halt the “infiltration by elements supporting terrorism and reject “attempts to cast doubt on state institutions, basic policy choices and criticism of the army, police or judiciary that “may reflect negatively on their performance.”
In response to this attempt by the State and their superiors to place a harness on the freedom of speech of journalists, those journalists affected released a statement via social network.
“Standing up to terrorism with a shackled media and sealed lips means offering the nation to extremism as an easy prey and turning public opinion into a blind creature unaware of the direction from which it is being hit or how to deal with it.” – Journalists’ Union
According to ABC News, approximately 350 journalists have so far signed the statement online showing their solidarity and willingness to unite with the journalists protesting for press freedom. Khaled el-Balshi, a board director for the Journalists’ Union, hinted this solidarity was exactly what they intended to declare when the statement was posted, stating that it was an ‘attempt to make the newspapers speak with one voice’ as the journalists oppose the stance taken by the editors.
“The move by the editors of the newspapers was like establishing a political party in support of the regime. They want to end diversity.” – Khaled el-Bhalshi, Journalists’ Union
If ending diversity among journalists was the intention, then that plan failed. Reports from the Courier are that those journalists who signed were representative of a full spectrum of ideologies—journalists’ backgrounds ranged from Islamist to secular.
Newser reports that the dispute between journalists and editors, in regards to supporting the state, originated due to the loss of freedoms won by the Egyptians in 2011 after Hosni Mubarak lost power. Mubarak stepped down from his seat as President of Egypt after weeks of protests against his regime. But last year, a new law criminalized street demonstrations that take place without police consent, and so far, dozens of activists have been convicted for organizing peaceful protests. Freedom of speech is very much a problem in Egypt, and journalists are just now feeling the brunt of it.
But journalists aren’t the only ones. Reports are that a private television channel in Egypt has banned certain guests from political programs and several talk show hosts have been taken off air in yet another attempt to stifle free speech.
[Image via alakbhar]