The Egyptian Government is Arbitrarily Persecuting Journalists
by TarikA on January 26, 2014 - 1:06pm
Peter Greste, an Australian reporter for Al-Jazeera, is facing his fourth week of imprisonment in Egypt, according to an article titled "Peter Greste's Letters from Egyptian Jail" published by Lin Jenkins on the Guardian’s website, on 25 January 2014. Greste, who has yet to have been formally charged of any crime, was arrested on December 30 of last year – along with his two colleagues (one of whom is Canadian, Mohamed Fahmy) – for allegedly taking part in a meeting with members of the Muslim Brotherhood, a group that the military-led Egyptian government calls a “terrorist” organization. Though Greste had been purportedly relegated to solitary confinement for 10 days, he has managed to write a letter to his parents, who have been campaigning for his release in Australia. In the letter, Greste describes the detention of him and his colleagues as an “attack on freedom of speech” and denounces the allegations of the Egyptian government, asserting that his work for Al-Jazeera in Cairo simply had the goal of “trying to make sense of the unfolding events with all the accuracy, fairness and balance that [his] imperfect trade demands."
The imprisonment of both Greste and Fahmy has sparked a great deal of controversy, as the arbitrary arrests seem to almost be a result of the fact that the Egyptian government is trying to limit Al-Jazeera’s media coverage of the clashes between anti-military and pro-military advocates, in the streets of Cairo. Considering that Egypt has a long history of subjugating journalists, it goes without saying that the present situation in the country is unacceptable. Since the military’s takeover last July, clashes have unfolded almost daily in the streets of Cairo and journalists (amateur and professional alike) have been trying to bring coverage to the world while risking being detained or worse. The importance of journalism lies in its ability to deliver an almost objective viewpoint of the world so that we, the audience, can formulate an opinion. There is a very real struggle going on in Egypt at the moment and the world needs a window to see exactly what is going on. Transparency is never an easy thing to attain, especially from a foreign government, but we must understand the importance there is in trying to attain it.
With that said, we need to be aware of the infighting going on in Egypt and therefore we need to advocate for freedom of press in the country. Of course, it is a huge challenge, but the smallest of actions can at least contribute to the struggle. There are numerous petitions online to be signed for the release of journalists in the country and also the possibility to support groups (through donations) like Reporters Without Borders or Amnesty International. The freedom of the press is a freedom that is necessary if we want to avoid the perversion and manipulation of peoples and the media alike.