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Post-coup, what now for Al-Ahram and freedom of expression?

January 27, 2014 at 2:32 pm

Post-military coup, the political reality has changed in Egypt. Newspapers and television stations have been closed down; the legislative council has been dissolved; Islamic leaders have been arrested; and pro-coup journalists have been tasked with demonising the legitimate president of the country and the Islamic movement.
One of the coup’s main features is that it has placed restrictions on freedom of opinion, along with restoring the more brutal and frightening aspects of state security. In effect, the January 25 Revolution has been brought to an abrupt halt and power has been transferred to anti-democratic political minorities.

Media freedoms available under legitimate president Mohamed Morsi have been taken away. The national newspapers now only feature writers supporting the military coup; anyone remotely anti has been edited out. Al-Ahram newspaper used to feature some Islamist writers, or those expressing an Islamist point of view, but the day after the coup it suspended all of their articles and columns. I know; I am one of them. My column has been “temporarily suspended until new arrangements are made”. The truth of the matter is that this is a polite form of permanent oppression imposed by the terrorist state security agency on the state newspapers. The privately-owned sectarian and partisan newspapers have been working under state security orders for a long time, and the Freedom and Justice newspaper was prohibited from publishing a second issue a few days ago. An appeal to the Journalists’ Union is pointless as the union has apparently made a deal with the state security agency to decrease the number of issues printed and reduce criticism of the military coup.

Official bias is obvious given that all of the opinion pieces in Al-Ahram, for example, commend the military coup and slander the legitimate president and the Islamic Movement in the worst possible language, and spread unfounded lies. What happened to the “Palestinian cell affiliated with Hamas in Mokattamaz” and the “Syrian captured in the squares working for the Brotherhood”? Nothing, because they were made-up stories.

However, they ignore the reality on the ground and in the squares that are filled with hundreds of thousands of individuals opposed to the military coup, in Cairo and other Egyptian cities. Furthermore, the stories, reports and interviews published by the newspapers are completely biased towards the military coup, the military dictatorship and the political minorities loyal to the dictator.

Attempts to expose the censorship of the security agency were suppressed in a most brutal fashion with the beating up of journalists. Such degrading and humiliating scenes were repeated when the homes of Islamic leaders were raided and they were arrested. Acts took place the likes of which were never witnessed before, even under the previous regimes.

The coup has re-subjected Egypt to Saudi Arabia, which equipped, financed and supported the coup with its money and television networks to deny the Egyptian people the opportunities to express their Islamism, identity and hope.

A Ceausescu-style state has prevailed in Egypt, with the executioners and the icons of corruption, murder and larceny being guaranteed pardons. Mubarak and his family are expected to follow suit.

The strategy is dependent on a weak opposition that has sold itself to military tyranny and the spread of a serious lie that the Islamists do not accept democracy. However, this lie confirms that the opposition, which sold itself to the army, has rejected democracy and the ballot box, has created the violence, rejected the Constitution and the law, turned against legitimacy and jumped to power on the coat-tails of the military.

The author is an Egyptian writer. This article is translation from the Arabic which appeared on Ikhwanonline, 12 July 2013

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.