There's No Free Press in Egypt

That’s some bad timing U.S. Ambassador to Egypt Margaret Scobey had last week.  Speaking at a public conference in Egypt, Scobey declared that “Egyptians are very free to speak out. The press debates so many things.” She then implied human rights organizations are free to investigate human rights abuses.

Activists call for the release of imprisoned Egyptian blogger Karim Amer

Activists call for the release of imprisoned Egyptian blogger Karim Amer

It didn’t take long for the Egyptian government to undercut the ambassador’s comments.  Today, Egyptian human rights activists announced their support for one of their own, blogger Hani Nazeer Aziz, when the government refused to implement for the fourth time a court order demanding his release from jail.  Aziz has been detained without charge at Borg AlArab prison since October 2008, activists say because the government wanted to silence his pro-democracy writings.

Scobey didn’t mention Aziz in her conference.  Nor did she mention arrested blogger Karim Amer, who is an Amnesty prisoner of conscience; nor did she cite a former POC Abdel Moneim Mahmoud, a journalist and blogger detained for more than a month in 2007 for denouncing torture ; nor did she mention novelist Musaad Suliman Hassan Hussein, known by his pen name Musaad Abu Fagr, who is a subject this month of Amnesty International’s Write-a-Thon.  Earlier this month, one of the most famous bloggers in Egypt, Wael Abbas, was convicted in absentia to 6 months in jail on charges of sabotage.

Let’s be clear: There is no freedom of the press in Egypt. The nearly three decades of State of Emergency powers continue to be used by the government to muzzle civil society.  Journalists, writers, bloggers and human rights activists in particular continue to be subject to arrest and harassment, often in the name of national security.

The question for Ambassador Scobey and the Obama Administration is whether it will continue to be complicit in this state of affairs.

When President Obama gave his historic speech in Cairo earlier this year, many activists welcomed the promise of change while noting that acts had to follow words. 2010 is almost here, and no real acts have been seen.  Ambassador Scobey’s bad timing would make a good time for the administration to show that the promise of the Cairo speech will be translated into policy and action.

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12 thoughts on “There's No Free Press in Egypt

  1. I think that there is freedom of press in Egypt as long as no insults and false informations are spreading. The state of emergency is quite normal as it is not utilised. It's just in case .

  2. I think that there is freedom of press in Egypt as long as no insults and false informations are spreading. The state of emergency is quite normal as it is not utilised. It’s just in case .

  3. Poor Mona. I don't think she quite understands. To accuse one of wrong-doing might be taken as an insult by the wrong-doer – even though the accuser might be right. How can there be press freeedoms if one feels they have been insulted. According to Mona's logic: She just insulted my intellegence therefore her opinion should be stifled.

  4. Poor Mona. I don’t think she quite understands. To accuse one of wrong-doing might be taken as an insult by the wrong-doer – even though the accuser might be right. How can there be press freeedoms if one feels they have been insulted. According to Mona’s logic: She just insulted my intellegence therefore her opinion should be stifled.

  5. Jeff I am of your opinion.I feel sorry for Egyptians as I am one of them witness tortures,abusing and oppression .I tell you what..I am thinking of those that might be killed during my writing this comment,therefor;the Egyptian police voilates and breaches all laws either the demostic or international.I feel insult and humilated by seeing them self-searching people in the streets every day without having any sort of judiciaryical permission also the court receive people who are torured every day and none who move a finger to stop them even if one filed and sued them the case is reserved and burried poor.really poor MOna

  6. Very poor Magdi and very poor Jeff and very poor anyone who utilises insults and false information to get famous. (You remind me Soliman Roushdy who is paying to get his name as a writer in Red Room)
    Take care: Real freedom is limited by other's freedom.
    Poor egyptians who are blogging with false informations: instead of trying to destroy your own country try to be positive.

  7. I am very positive but my country is very negative >I don't know how you don't see all negative.Do you admire the newly educational minister that forgot that we live in the 21 century and wanted teachers to beat pupils .Does this considered the chang we need instead of trying to give the children good knowledge in a good or you like the police that evry day voilates the international laws or the 40 million people who did not find their own food.the government should work for the favour of its people but in Egypt people are slaves for the government.Myabe you don't live there or maybe ….!Anyway if I won't to correct the bad things in my country that mean I like it.so do not bid my or your citizenship.Tell me what do you like in your country I give you my answer that convence you.we have the greatest civilization in the world ..,but what is our income of tourism if everything goes ok we should have the greastest No.of visitors.manaything even the bloggers who are the best of the minds of the people there the country burries thm because they need hypocratics and ignorant that fakes everthing that insults the intelegmce of the people who are not naive

  8. I have been detained for three days by corrupted police officers who blackmailed me and ruined my career and life .from nearly a mollionair,changed my status to a very poor one none in Egypt even the court gave my rights .be sure that this will not lst for long change is comming soon.we will make our country as it is supposed to be very respected by everyone in the world when we respect ourselves and our people and their minds .

  9. Jeff I am of your opinion.I feel sorry for Egyptians as I am one of them witness tortures,abusing and oppression .I tell you what..I am thinking of those that might be killed during my writing this comment,therefor;the Egyptian police voilates and breaches all laws either the demostic or international.I feel insult and humilated by seeing them self-searching people in the streets every day without having any sort of judiciaryical permission also the court receive people who are torured every day and none who move a finger to stop them even if one filed and sued them the case is reserved and burried poor.really poor MOna

  10. Very poor Magdi and very poor Jeff and very poor anyone who utilises insults and false information to get famous. (You remind me Soliman Roushdy who is paying to get his name as a writer in Red Room)
    Take care: Real freedom is limited by other’s freedom.
    Poor egyptians who are blogging with false informations: instead of trying to destroy your own country try to be positive.

  11. I am very positive but my country is very negative >I don’t know how you don’t see all negative.Do you admire the newly educational minister that forgot that we live in the 21 century and wanted teachers to beat pupils .Does this considered the chang we need instead of trying to give the children good knowledge in a good or you like the police that evry day voilates the international laws or the 40 million people who did not find their own food.the government should work for the favour of its people but in Egypt people are slaves for the government.Myabe you don’t live there or maybe ….!Anyway if I won’t to correct the bad things in my country that mean I like it.so do not bid my or your citizenship.Tell me what do you like in your country I give you my answer that convence you.we have the greatest civilization in the world ..,but what is our income of tourism if everything goes ok we should have the greastest No.of visitors.manaything even the bloggers who are the best of the minds of the people there the country burries thm because they need hypocratics and ignorant that fakes everthing that insults the intelegmce of the people who are not naive

  12. I have been detained for three days by corrupted police officers who blackmailed me and ruined my career and life .from nearly a mollionair,changed my status to a very poor one none in Egypt even the court gave my rights .be sure that this will not lst for long change is comming soon.we will make our country as it is supposed to be very respected by everyone in the world when we respect ourselves and our people and their minds .