The Egyptian Government is Arbitrarily Persecuting Journalists

by TarikA on January 26, 2014 - 1:06pm

Original article: http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/jan/25/peter-greste-al-jazeera-prison

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.

 

Comments

I thought that this summary was really well written and full of detail! I agree that advocating for freeing journalists is definitely the right decision is the case. Not many people realize how dangerous a journalist's job can really be. The United Nations has adopted a resolution aiming towards keeping journalists safe in foreign countries. http://en.rsf.org/un-general-assembly-adopts-26-11-2013,45512.html

Good summary, really spot on. Egypt has abandoned any semblance of a "transition to democracy," and has reverted to a full blown police-state; complete with fascism's trademark "charismatic leader" in the form of Abdel Fattah el-Sisi. Dissidents are being massacred, opposition journalists are being carted off to prison, and the national elites, as well as the Western interests which they serve, are firmly back in power. I think Chris Hedges sums it up perfectly in an article from a few months ago. I've posted the link below.

http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/murdering_the_wretched_of_the_earth_...

Also, if you're interested in the concept of persecution of journalists, you should know that the Committee to Protect Journalists just released (for the first time ever) a report claiming that press freedoms in the United States are in serious danger. This should be obvious, due to the ferociousness with which they have attacked Wikileaks, and the so-called "accomplices" of Edward Snowden. Slightly frightening for an aspiring journalist, but essential reading.

http://cpj.org/reports/2013/10/obama-and-the-press-us-leaks-surveillance...

When reading this article, I came to realize how privileged I am to live in a place that does not infringe on one's human rights (Canada). (At least, to such an extent as what is going on in Egypt.) I am currently studying Human Rights in one of my classes in college, and by closely examining each human right a human being is entitled to, I have come to the realization that these human rights are often unattainable ideals for individuals such as the above mentioned victims. It seems a tragedy to me, that human rights have come so far as to say that no matter what age, sex, ethnicity, or social status you posses, you have inherited specific inalienable rights as long as you are a human being... yet... it all seems to come down to where you live, and what government you answer to. As a strong believer in human equality and morality, I find it frustrating to read and study the law, and see such atrocities. At times, it seems as if the law is optional for those with the power and finances to do as they please... Although it is healthy to remember that this is not the case in many States, such as my own. I honour the effort made to bring attention to such impunity, and the magnitude of the risk those journalists took to deliver the truth. It is always a bold profession...to stick one's neck out on the line in order to expose corruption. All the more power to them! A compelling story.