1/29/15

egypt

The current Egyptian government is actively watching the news that is available to their people in search of any ties to the Muslim Brotherhood, from the authorities beforehand. At first the attempt seemed simply just to ensure that the Muslim Brotherhood was stopped from repeating its mistakes with the Egyptian people, but it has turned into much more than that. It is now to the level that any hint of a tie to the Muslim Brotherhood is grounds for either getting in trouble with the government, or at least having your story be pulled. The hatred towards the Muslim Brotherhood stemmed from how the Muslim Brotherhood had used their power. The sole reason that the government does not want the Muslim Brotherhood to be represented at all in the media, is so that it has no chance of regaining any power.

Finding information on Egypt is somewhat interesting. The papers that are available seem to all say the same things. No one seems to completely disagree with the government. This is because the government attacks anyone with the slightest ideas of dissent. This ‘attack on dissent’ is what led to the killings this past weekend. Protesters were voicing their opinions and feelings that the government was not in favor of, and it ended up costing them their lives.

The need the government feels to protect the people from the Muslim Brotherhood is turning strictly into a feeling of hate that is preventing the press from actually being able to report. It is now too dangerous to try to say something outside the lines of what is allowed by the government, in fear of being punished. The government has now gone too far in trying to protect, and has now ended up simply censoring their people.

1/27/15

Protests, Violence Mark Anniversary of Egypt Uprising

On January 25, 2015, an activist was shot dead in Cairo, which sparked a domino effect resulting in 16 deaths (BBC now reports 18 dead) across Egypt. The deaths occurred throughout protests in reaction to the fourth anniversary of Egypt’s uprising in 2011. The original uprising resulted in the overthrow of then leader Hosni Mubarak. 38 were injured atop the 16 dead, in downtown Cairo, a suburb of Giza, and in Alexandria.

The first death that generated the slew of others, was that of activist Shaimaa al-Shabbagh. She was attending a protest march held by the socialist Popular Alliance party in Cairo. The remaining shot included at least three policemen, among at least 11 other protestors.

This anniversary is one of great importance. It marks the day of Egypt’s uprising in 2011 that ended the long-term command of Hosni Mubarak. Since then, the stability of the Egyptian government has been rocky at best. In 2013, another Egyptain leader, former president Mohammed Morsi, was overthrown. Since the end of his control, the Egyptian authorities have been extra sensitive to political dissent.

Regardless of the strict regulations against any political dissent on such a day as the anniversary of the uprising in 2011, current Egypt president Abdel Fattah el-Sisi sanguinely stated that, “The fourth anniversary represents to all of us a new flame of hope, development and action. There is no doubt that there are shortcomings that exist and will take time until we all overcome them. With the will to work and the will to change, we will be able to overcome these shortcomings and achieve our hopes.”

Despite the positive statement released by the president, the people of Egypt are still not content with how things are being handled, “If there were any attempts to hold security officers accountable over the past four years, Shaimaa wouldn’t have been killed,” says Khaled Dawood, a supporter of the Constitution party.

It is said that Shaimaa, the first victim of the shootings, was simply peacefully demonstrating when she was killed. It was even said that the protests in no way resembled the uprising that took pace four years ago, lending no reason for violence to ensue.

The state of Egypt has changed greatly since the original 2011 uprising. Any suspicion of support for Morsi is stamped on by police and stopped in its tracks. Protestors are being killed, instead of simply being thrown in jail as in 2011, and the country was looking for democracy while now, they are being ruled by a more authoritarian ruler.

The events of 2011 marked a new political page for Egypt, but four years later it is not what you may have expected back then.

Last year, similar protests to the ones that took place this last weekend, also resulted in dozens killed.

At the funeral for Shaimaa, 1,000 people were there to march in her honor, and Vice President of the socialist Popular Alliance Medhat al-Zahid reported that she had been “killed in cold blood.”

There is a further investigation being launched, into the death of Shaimaa al-Shabbagh taking place.

1/22/15

I chose this blog topic to be set around the article “Rights groups alarmed over increase in inmates deaths in Egypt” by Dorothy Parvaz. This article shines a light on the situation of inmates in Egypt, which include journalists. The death rate of inmates has increased, as well as the length of sentencing. Some sentences, supposed to only be days long, are renewed and quickly become months. The situation in the jails is of complete filth and grunge. The poor conditions combined with overcrowding and increased sentences, have lead to a higher death rate.
Dorothy Parvaz is a journalist who was born in Iran, but grew up in Canada. She has done some work in Syria as a journalist, and even disappeared for nineteen days in 2011 due to her researching and ended up being deported to Iran.
In this article, Parvaz used pretty normal tactics in writing this piece. Her sources were named and credible. Her research showed both sides of the issue: what the government wanted people to see, and what was being reported as true.
I thought this article was especially interesting, because Parvaz wrote about the way prisoners were being treated, but she also showed how the government and other official groups were working to cover up how poorly prisoners were being treated. One former government employee Mahmoud Abd al-Rahman was jailed for a sentence that was originally fifteen days, but his sentence kept being renewed until he had been there for ten months and ended up dying in a cell that was overcrowded. The craziest part of all of this was not simply the fact that he was kept there so long in such horrible quarters, but that on top of that, the Human Rights Watch reported that he had died of “apparent heart attacks”.

1/20/15

In Egypt, the press is often penalized for trying to do their job. Journalists are killed, jailed, and generally prevented by their own government from reporting. This problem is by no means a new one. Egyptian press has been limited for quite some time now, and is still trying to progress towards freedom.

The law has been one of the press’s biggest enemies, preventing any “demonstration that has not received prior police approval”, as well as other restrictions. Because of the strict laws against journalism, many journalists are jailed for breaking the oppressive laws. As of recent, some journalists have been being given shortened sentences, and being let out, even though many are still there. Fellow journalists as well as others somehow related to the press, were thrilled about journalists being let out of jail in September 2014. Although they knew that more had to be done, “Egyptian authorities must now continue down this path and release all journalists behind bars and reform the oppressive laws that put them there.” (CPJ, Sherif Mansour) They may have let two journalists free, but eleven remained imprisoned, and the constant fear of being one of those imprisoned lives on in any journalist in Egypt.

Egyptian journalist Tamer Abuarab, shared his mixed feelings about reporting in Egypt, “Yes I am afraid, but fear is not going to change my decisions or convictions… You live once, so either you live as you want or as others want you to live.” Being a reporter in Egypt is stressful and the stakes are very high, but this will not stop reporters from reporting. They are still going to try to push the envelope as far as they can make it go, just without trying to go to jail.

With the stakes as high as they are for journalists, one can only imagine how difficult it must be to find credible sources with information worth publishing. The risk of having a byline is great enough, but to be the source of information behind the story must be just as intimidating and terrifying. Finding a source that will disclose everything and keep all their sharing ‘on the record’, would be extremely rare.

Slowly but surely, the press is making progress, and gaining control over what they are allowed to print. Reporters are banding together and speaking up (CPJ, “Egypt’s journalists speak out against repression self-censorship”), and more attention is being drawn to the obvious issue that Egypt has with its press. Unfortunately, the government has been so inconsistent that not much has actually been able to be accomplished because of the governments that have been in place.

CPJ, or “Committee to Protect Journalists”, released a documentary called “Under Threat” that illustrates just what it is like to be the media in Egypt, especially amid all of today’s political turmoil. Along with releasing the video, they also urged readers to get the word out there by hashtagging #EgyptLastWord on Twitter. The tweets that followed all point out the injustice taking place in Egyptian Media.

CPJ, or “Committee to Protect Journalists”, released a documentary called “Under Threat” that illustrates just what it is like to be the media in Egypt, especially amid all of today’s political turmoil. Along with releasing the video, they also urged readers to get the word out there by hashtagging #EgyptLastWord on Twitter. The tweets that followed all point out the injustice taking place in Egyptian Media.

1/15/15

This Blog will be focused on the hostile journalism environment in Egypt.
Egypt is a hostile environment for journalists for many reasons. First off, they have been somewhat politically significant in the recent past, even though they may not be in the news (in America) everyday. Second, being a journalist in Egypt has been quite risky. They have one of the highest counts of journalists that are jailed, which is currently at 221 people, according to the “Committee to Protect Journalists”. There have also been 11 journalists killed in Egypt since 1992, which is quite a high number. Atop all of these statistics, the situation in Egypt for journalists has also been changing in the past year. The freedoms, accessibility, and safety of journalists have been deteriorating, making Egypt seem even more unappealing. Former president Morsi had created a “Muslim Brotherhood” that ran the country. The Muslim Brotherhood ended up controlling the media and all it showed, limiting what was allowed to be printed or shared. Once the Brotherhood was overthrown, the new government wanted to make sure that the Brotherhood was gone, but this led to ‘witch hunts’ of anyone even affiliated with the Brotherhood, thus only making the situation worse.
I chose this country as my focus on the struggles of journalism, because I didn’t want to pick a country that is constantly in today’s headlines, otherwise I would just be reiterating what most already know. I wanted to talk about a possibly ‘forgotten’ country, or at least one that hasn’t had the majority of today’s headlines, but has had yesterday’s. Egypt seemed like the best option. Clearly the country has and has had issues with journalists, and it is also a country that has interesting news to be reported. I am truly looking forward to blogging about journalism in Egypt.