RSF protest at Obelisk in Paris – “Save Egyptian Journalists”
As Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi continues an official visit to Paris, Reporters Without Borders (RSF) staged a demonstration today at the Luxor Obelisk in Place de la Concorde in Paris in protest against Egypt’s disastrous press freedom record.
“Egypt is one of the world's biggest prisons for journalists" RSF secretary-general Christophe Deloire said. “President Sisi stifles independent voices and jails those who refuse to toe the official line. Sisi mummifies journalists by binding their eyes, mouths and hands to prevent them from doing their job to provide information. We are using his visit to Paris to denounce this brutal repression and to urge France not to close its eyes to the Egyptian regime's many human rights violations".
President Sisi’s visit has coincided with an unprecedented crackdown on Egyptian civil society in the name of combatting terrorism. Along with human rights activists, journalists are being persecuted because of the regime’s refusal to tolerate any criticism or questioning. Public debate is non-existent. Censorship and self-censorship are the rule.
Sixteen journalists are currently in prison. Some are awaiting verdicts in drawn-out trials that keep on being adjourned. Others are being mistreated. All of them were arrested just for doing their job.
Powerful men allied with the government are buying up privately-owned traditional media outlets. A government newspaper recently took over the administration of some of these privately-owned outlets, including the English-language Daily News Egypt and the Arabic-language business newspaper Borsa.
The Internet was the last space left for the freedom to inform but it, too, is now being subjected to a great deal of censorship. Access to more than 400 websites, including dozens of news sites such as Mada Masr, Masr al Arabia and Al Bedaiah, has been blocked this year without any offical reason being given. RSF’s website, like those of other NGOs, has been blocked since the summer.
Egypt is ranked 161st out of 180 countries in RSF’s 2017 World Press Freedom Index.