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Egyptian media still not free after Mubarak, report says

April 5, 2012 |  4:30 am

Presidential hopeful Abdelmoneim Abu Fatuh

The same laws and policies that restricted the Egyptian media under ousted President Hosni Mubarak still apply, according to a recent review of Egyptian media coverage that spanned seven months.

“While media professionals and journalists were expecting drastic changes in the climate they worked in, the same old pattern has continued … a climate of press and media that is not free,” the Arabic Network for Human Rights Information and the Egyptian Organization for Human Rights said in a statement.

The two rights groups found that Egyptian media were especially reluctant to criticize the judiciary and rarely explored “the most important issues, such as purging the judiciary pf corruption.” State media showed the ruling military council the same deference they once showed Mubarak, the report said.

Egyptian media were "inclined most of the time not to present opinions that criticize the institution of the judiciary, which converges with the official stance of the military council, which warned several times not to criticize the Egyptian justice system or call for a purge in it," the two groups said.

Their concerns have been echoed by other free-speech groups. Last year, Egypt tumbled to 166th place in media freedom rankings by Reporters Without Borders. Dozens of journalists have been grilled by military prosecutors; police raids and harassment have continued, according to Freedom House.

"The military stuck to the old methods of censorship and intimidation, declaring that there would be 'no tolerance of insults' directed toward it," Reporters Without Borders wrote.

Five Egyptian newspapers, three talk shows and four news website were included in the review, which scrutinized media coverage between June 2011 and January 2012.

Mubarak stepped down in February 2011, but the ruling military council that replaced him has spawned new worries, The Times' Jeffrey Fleishman and Amro Hassan wrote last year:

Activists and politicians are worried that the military, the country's most revered institution before the revolution that overthrew President Hosni Mubarak in February, refuses to have its authority and financial interests answerable to an emerging democracy.


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-- Emily Alpert in Los Angeles

Photo: Egyptian media thrust microphones in front of presidential hopeful Abdelmoneim Abu Fatuh, who talked to media before presenting recommendation documents at the presidential elections committee headquarters in Cairo on March 29. Credit: Khaled Elfiqi / European Pressphoto Agency