14 March 2018

Egypt: Abuse of Media Mars Egypt Poll Preparations

Cairo — SOME journalists have been arrested, others are in hiding and broadcasts suspended in a crackdown on media by the Egyptian government ahead of upcoming elections.

The authoritarian administration of President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, who is seeking a second term, is targeting media and journalists critical of his government.

The Supreme Council for Media Regulation, a body set up in 2016 under a decree by el-Sisi, has banned four entertainment and satirical shows on "moral grounds." Authorities have warned that media violating ethical or moral standards would be penalized.

El-Sisi has warned the media that any coverage deemed defamatory of the military or police would be considered treason rather than freedom of opinion.

Since el-Sisi announced his bid for reelection in January, at least four journalists have been detained after interviewing opposition candidates.

At least two journalists are currently in hiding for fear of arrest after being accused of writing "fake news."

Negad el-Borai, the human rights lawyer, decried the clampdown.

"Freedom of expression is dying in Egypt," he lamented.

The president has defended the crackdown on media and journalists, denouncing some of them as "forces of evil."

"They seek to undermine the safety and security of the nation," el-Sisi said.

Presidential elections will be held between March 26 and 28.

El-Sisi is tipped to win after opposition candidates were arrested or intimidated into dropping out.


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