When Morsi’s death in detention was announced on 17 June, the vast majority of Egyptian media outlets just used the same 42-word government statement, without offering their own take on the event and without even mentioning that he was Egypt’s former president.
Citing an anonymous source, the news website Mada Masr said a “government entity” had sent the communiqué to all the media by WhatsApp with instructions to publish it on an inside page, not on the front page. According to this source, this method is increasingly used to tell the media how to cover events.
“The Egyptian authorities must allow freedom to the media and be open to the journalistic treatment of political life rather than seek to lock the debate and minimize the spread.” RSF’s Middle East desk said.
One of the few media who offered some background and used its own wording is Al-Masry Al-Youm. In an article, the journalist Soliman Gouda deplores the lack of coverage and judges that it deprives the Egyptians of an essential information.
Under Egypt’s 2015 terrorism law, journalists are obliged to use the official version when reporting bombings. Ousted as president by the army in 2013, Morsi had been a member of the Muslim Brotherhood, which is regarded as a terrorist organization by the current government. Egypt is ranked 163rd out of 180 countries in RSF's 2019 World Press Freedom Index.