Censorship challenges continue in Egypt
It is becoming increasingly difficult to be critical of the government and social situation in Egypt.
The job of a journalist is to report events the way they happen. While there is certainly a level of subjective bias in doing so, it is their duty to try in a way that is true and honest to the events as they transpire. These services become increasingly important in times of turmoil and it is difficult to understand events as they happen in real time.
This is certainly the case in Egypt, which has seen two major shifts in power over the last three years roughly. The protests in Tahir Square in 2011 played a major role in deposing then President Hosni Mubarak. This led to the development of a new constitution and the election of a new president Mohamed Morsi – the first democratically elected president in some time. However, after he sought to institute reforms that would have greatly increased his power, protests again erupted, and the military deposed him from office.
These are certainly confusing and chaotic times for Egypt, meaning that the role of news services is essential. On December 30, three Al Jazeera English journalists were jailed and still remain behind bars. The three are a part of 20 total journalists who are now incarcerated in the country for "spreading misinformation" and "aiding a terror cell," the Index on Censorship reported.
There has been wide spread outrage about their detention. An Avaaz petition has gathered 50,000 signatures calling for their release. Unfortunately, they seem to be falling on deaf ears. The trial of the 20 journalists was recently delayed until March 24 so that there is time to hear from more witnesses.
One witness who will likely testify and is a part of the national security organization told the news source that, "This is a war for Egypt's very survival, for its existence. Anyone posing a threat to the country's national security must be annihilated."
One filmmaker that has been able to see some success in the country is Jehane Noujaim whose documentary "The Square," was nominated for an Oscar.
The film had not been cleared by censors in Egypt, but viewers in the country were able to see it because the film was made available to Egyptians on YouTube for free, according to Variety. It is important to note that Noujaim does not live in the country, so she be more vigilant about spreading the film, though she was arrested three times during its shooting.
For the country to achieve true democracy, it needs to stop censoring the journalists who a performing an essential function in the country.