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Is journalism literally dead in Egypt?

Posted : 07:07 AM Aug 30,2018 by ICPFJ
Serial Number : icpfj0000154271
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Is journalism literally dead in Egypt?

According to the oxford dictionary journalism can be defined as “the activity or job of collecting, writing, and editing news stories for newspapers, magazines, television, or radio or the business of collecting and editing news of general or popular interest ”. according to the Cambridge university “the work of collecting, writing,and publishing news stories andarticles in newspapers and magazines or broadcasting them on the radio and television”


(Sampsonia Way)

Definition

According to the oxford dictionary journalism can be defined as “the activity or job of collecting, writing, and editing news stories for newspapers, magazines, television, or radio or the business of collecting and editing news of general or popular interest    ”. according to the Cambridge university “the work of collecting, writing,and publishing news stories andarticles in newspapers and magazines or broadcasting them on the radio and television”

History of journalism

Journalism is not a recent phenomenon, by any means. The earliest recorded journalism  is the called the Acta Diurna in  Rome circa 59 B.C.With more and more of the roman population  enjoying it  daily publication and was hung strategically throughout the city for all to read, or rather for those who were able to read as not all Romans were literate.According to  Wikipedia encyclopedia,“during the Tang dynasty, from 618 A.D. to 907 A.D., China prepared a court report, then named a bao, to distribute to government officials for the purpose of keeping them informed of relevant events. It continued afterward in a variety of forms and names until the end of 1911, and the demise of the Qing dynasty. However, the first indication of a regular news publication can be traced to Germany, 1609, and the initial paper published in the English language (albeit "old English") was the newspaper known as the Weekly Newes from 1622. The Daily Courant, however, first appearing in 1702, was the first daily paper for public consumption”.
When in understanding the history of journalism it is vital to recognise the timeline of its transformation and evolution. Thus listen below is an accurate presentation of such a timeline. Which depicts a brief timeline of the initial crucial incidences in the origin of journalism.

Historical records, Business records, Records of accomplishment
10,000 BC-Historical records, Business records, Records of accomplishment
Development of stamps, seals and engraved objects to denote ownership
4500 BC-Sumerians
3500 BC-Sumerians devise system for preserving records; signs and symbols pressed into wet clay tablets and baked in the sun.
Mediterranean wood and stone carvings
1500 BC-Development of Papyrus
500 BC-Egyptians used reeds found along Nile river; rolled into scrolls became portable
Acta Diurna ( acts of The day)
59 BC-First systematic attempt to collect and distribute information.
Velum
100 Ad-Animal skin parchment developed and was called velum; Chinese develop,paper from wood pulp
Chinese information gathering
750 AD - 1911-Chinese developed longest continuing information program on record.
Oldest Preserved Book
868 AD-China the eldest preserved book printed with wood block printing
Wood Block Printing
1295 AD- Wood Block printing begins in Europe.
Printing Press
1450- Gutenberg invents the printing press.
William Caxton
1476- William Caxton exported first printing press to Europe
Every Major city in Europe has printing press
1490-Every major city in Europe has printing press; people think for themselves and share knowledge.
John Smith
1607- Jamestown settlement; published news from Virginia
Pilgrims
1620- Pilgrims came to Plymouth (preceden.com)

Egypt

Before being able to comprehend the current situation of Egypt one must enlighten them self about the country at hand. Egypt is country located in the north-eastern corner of Africa. Egypt’s heartland, the Nile River valley and delta, was the home of one of the principal civilizations of the ancient Middle East and, of one of the world’s earliest urban and literate societies. Pharaonic Egypt thrived for some 3,000 years.  The Capital of Egypt is Cairo Trending . The currency currently in use is the Egyptian pound. The president of this nation is Abdel Fattah el-Sisi who governs a total Population of 99599696 according to world-meters.
Official languages: Arabic
Home of the ancient Pharaohs, Egypt is a dazzling destination of temples and tombs that wow all who visit. Some points of interest in Egypt  are Giza pyramid complex, Great Sphinx of Giza, more .It's not all historic treasures though. With vast tracts of desert, superb scuba diving, and the famed Nile River.

History of journalism in Egypt

Journalism has begun in Egypt since approximately a century and half. But press in those days was utilized was for publishing official notices.

According to Britanica in 1822, Muhammad Ali Pasha launched for the first time a paper called as ‘Journal View’ in both Arabic and Turkish languages. This was printed at the fort in Cairo. Widely distributed among official circles, it contained Government notices and few Arabic stories and had hundred prints. Thereafter in 1828 he started another paper called ‘Al Waqaai-ul-Misriyya’. It was a modeled after the papers in the western papers. With increased circulation among government officials and academicians, it was considered government’s second official mouthpiece. Besides this, in 1848 he also started another publication for agricultural and industrial sectors.
But these publications which served as mouthpiece for governmental notices did not have the vigor of real newspapers. Later in 1841 another paper in a new style entitled ‘Al Waqaailul Misriyya’ was launched under the editorial of renowned journalist Tahtawi. It gave importance to regional and foreign news, which until then was used in the propaganda for Muhammad Ali Pasha                   .
The above-said papers contained only cultural news items until the British colonialism and Arab resolution. The masses found it hard to suppress their aversion for the Ottoman Empire. The uncertainties prevailing in Egypt, Turkey and Syria towards the end of the 20th century kindled the flames of revolution in the hearts of the people. This resulted in the birth of many nationalist newspapers. They participated actively I nthe liberation movement until the Sa’ad Saglool revolution in 1919.
Besides these, foreign papers also started under the patronage of French Consulate and Turkish Ambassadors.(pic-QyGjxZ.com) ‘Mukhattam’ was launched in 1868 with british funds. Gradually the nationalist papers were closed down.
In 1913, a newspaper called ‘As-Sha’ab’ was released. The British monarchy declared Egypt as its princely province and asked all the newspapers to publish the news on first page. But the editor of this paper, Amirul Rifa’I, refused to do so and had to subsequently close it down.
Many other newspapers were also started after the 1919 revolution. ‘As-siyasa’, ‘al-masri’, swath-ul Umma’, were some of them which adopted an independent stand on various issues.

The Egyptian press has played a significant role in guiding the masses through various political turmoil and destroying the seeds of discord sown by the British between the Egyptians and Copts.

It was the political essays of Hasanain Kaikal written during 1946 which gave fame for the present-day editor of ‘Al Ahram’. He was appointed senior editor in 1960 after serving as war reporter in Palestine and Korea. Al Ahram also publishes an economic bi-weekly.

The first female journalist in Al Akhbar was Maishahin. But long before this in 1910 a lady’s articles used to appear under the name ‘Badawiyathul Bahis’. She is in fact the first female journalist of Egypt.

After the Revolution, two papers started, namely, ‘Al Manna’’ in 1952 and ‘Al Juhooriyya’ in 1953. Both of them were published from Darul Thahreer. The joint editor of Al Juhooriyya was the today’s renowned writer Dr. Taha Hussein. Besides these, Darul Thahreer also publishes Egyptian Mail, Lee Progress Egyption, La Bourse and Progres Dimanche. Around 200 journalists are employed in this large institution.

Journalists have been trying since 1912 to establish a press syndicate but found no success. Later they founded a trade union in 1919 to protect their rights. Finally in 1941 a press syndicate was formed and its first conference was held in December of the same year. Thereafter a separate building and club was established for the organization. The first Arab journalists’ meeting after the Revolution was held in 1953. The syndicate published its charter in 1955. Accordingly, only a member of the syndicate shall be able to carry on the profession. The body currently has 920 working journalists(Britanica)

General.SiSi

Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, (born November 19, 1954, Cairo, Egypt), Egyptian military officer who became Egypt’s de facto leader in July 2013, after the country’s military removed Pres. Mohammed Morsi from power following mass protests against his rule. ( Egyptian president Abdel Fatah al-Sisi. Relations with Italy have improved since tensions over the murder of Italian student Giulio Regeni in Cairo in 2016. Photograph: Reuters). Sisi was elected president in May 2014 and elected to a second term in March 2018.
Sisi graduated from the Egyptian Military Academy in 1977, then served in the infantry. Like other Egyptian officers of his generation, he never saw combat, but he advanced through the ranks to command a mechanized infantry division and then served as the commander of Egypt’s northern military region. In 2010 he was appointed to the post of director of military intelligence.
In spite of that violence, Sisi soon found significant political support among Egyptians who were exhausted by two years of economic and political turmoil. Oversize portraits of him became an increasingly common sight in the streets, and a variety of political groups were formed to tout Sisi as a strong leader and urge him to seek the presidency. Sisi himself denied having any desire to hold the office, but in March 2014 he confirmed expectations by announcing that he would resign from the military to run for president later that year. He entered the race as the overwhelming favourite, given his popularity and the fact that many of the most-prominent figures in Egyptian politics had already ruled out running in 2014. The election was held in May, and, as expected, Sisi easily defeated his only opponent, the leftist Hamdeen Sabahi.As president, Sisi confronted renewed attacks by Islamic militants.Sisi vowed to crush the insurgency with military force and launched large-scale operations aimed at rooting out militants.

Journalism today in Egypt

Today the most popular newspapers in Egypt are ‘Al Ahram’, ‘Al Akhbar’,’Al Jamhooriya’ and ’Al Masah’. Their copies in circulation goes up to three hundred thousand whereas before the Revolution it was only one hundred thousand.
‘Al Ahram’, the oldest in paper in Egypt, was founded in 1876 by a Lebanese Christian youth who took refuge in Egypt during the time of Sultan Abdul Hamid. It began as a four-page magazine printed in a small building at Alexandria. It prospered rapidly during the nest five years and thereafter moved to Cairo. It challenged other prominent publications like ‘Liwa’ run under the then popular Arab leader Mustafa Kamil and ‘Al Jareeda’ under the editorial of Lutfi Sayyed.

This has been described as "the worst time to be a journalist" in Egypt's history.As the year comes to an end, President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi's government stands accused by rights groups of instilling fear through a series of draconian restrictions on the media.According to Aljezeira the US-based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) dubs the country " (pic-egyptian-streets)one of the world's biggest prisons for journalists". With at least 20 journalists behind bars in relation to their work, Egypt is among the world's top three jailers of journalists.Reporters Without Borders ranks Egypt 161st out of 180 countries in its press freedom index according to the national statistics.Egyptian journalists say operating amid a range of implicit and explicit restrictions has done irreparable damage to the profession, as well as curbed their ability to report on serious political and human rights issues across the country.According to Aljeziera "The government intent is to bring fear to the arena," said Amr Khalifa, an Egyptian opinion columnist and political analyst based in the US. Egyptian journalists do not have the privilege of freedom of speech as it is being  oppressed. Freedom of speech  is an essential part of journalism and its geniuses. The oxford dictionary defines it as “the power or right to express one's opinions without censorship, restraint, or legal penalty,the move would further harm freedom of speech in the region".

Lists of dead or jailed journalists in Egypt.

Journalism in Egypt has come to a point at which if one was express themself as they wished they would risk being jailed or even being killed.Journalists killed in Egypt since 2011 according to britania. The following is a list compiled on February 20, 2015, of journalists killed in Egypt in relation to their work, according to research by the Committee to Protect Journalists. As per CPJ

.Mayada Ashraf, Al-Dustour, March 28, 2014, in Cairo, Egypt    

  1. Tamer Abdel Raouf, Al-Ahram, August 19, 2013, in Damanhur, Egypt
  2. Mosaab al-Shami, Rassd News Network, August 14, 2013, in Cairo, Egypt
  3. Ahmed Abdel Gawad, Al-Akhbar, Misr25, August 14, 2013, in Cairo, Egy
  4. Mick Deane, Sky News, August 14, 2013, in Cairo, Egypt
  5. Ahmed Assem el-Senousy, Freedom and Justice, July 8, 2013, in Cairo, Egypt
  1. Salah al-Din Hassan, Shaab Masr, June 29, 2013, in Port Said, Egypt
  2. Al-Hosseiny Abou Deif, El-Fagr, December 12, 2012, in Cairo, Egypt
  3. Wael Mikhael, Al-Tareeq, October 9, 2011, in Cairo, Egypt
  4. Ahmad Mohamed Mahmoud, Al-Ta'awun, February 4, 2011, in Cairo, Egypt

 

Not only are journalists being killed but also imprisoned. According to RFS “at the end of 2012, only one blogger was behind bars, on a blasphemy charge, while another blogger, the well-known activist Alaa Abdel Fattah, had spent a few months in prison in the course of the year before.

Five years later, Alaa is in prison again, only this time he has been there for the past three years and is one of at least 30 Egyptian journalistsheld in connection with their reporting. The reasons for their arrests have been varied. Some were covering sensitive subjects such as the army, police or terrorism. They include Ismail Alexandrani, an expert on the Sinai and extremist groups, who has been held without trial for more than two years”

It also records “the journalist Moataz Wednan was arrested last month for an interview with an ally of a presidential candidate. Others have been prosecuted for interviews about the cost of living, the soaring inflation or the financial difficulties of ordinary Egyptian families”.

“Endangering national security,” “membership of a terrorist group,” “fake news” and even attempted murder are among the other charges that have been used to arrest journalists suspected of working for media outlets deemed to support the now banned Muslim Brotherhood. Dozens of journalists have been arrested in the past six months in what seems to be a witch hunt against journalists working for opposition media.
When the journalist Mahmoud Hussein arrived in Cairo in December 2016 to spend a few days with his family, he was arrested simply because he works for Al Jazeera, which is banned in Egypt because it is funded by the Qatari government and is regarded as sympathetic to the Muslim Brotherhood. Hussein has been held ever since.
In May 2016, a military court sentenced two young citizen-journalists, Omar Ibrahim Mohamed Ali and Soheib Saad, to life imprisonment. They had worked for Al Jazeera. Before their trial, they were held incommunicado for a month and reportedly tortured and then finally appeared in a defence ministry video in which, according to the ministry, they made “terrorist confessions.”
The absurdity of the charges brought against journalists is often matched by the disproportionate nature of their sentences. Prosecutors have just requested the death sentence for Mahmoud Abou Zeid, a photojournalist better known as Shawkan. He is one of the hundreds of defendants in a mass trial of people who were arrested when a protest in Cairo’s Rabaa al-Adawiya Square was dispersed in August 2013. The authorities have never taken account of the fact that he was there simply to take photos for the British photo agency Demotix.

How its effecting the society.

The impact of this adverse restrictions are negative. Instilling fear in the minds of the population in an attempt control all that is said. It brings about a fear oriented society which is manupilated to the ruthless unlawful treatment of those who what they classify as against the state. In other terminology any truth must be suppressed.

Is anyone doing anything about it?

Even with the Forensic reports and other eyewitnesses confirming journalists dying from being shot in the head there is no action taken for an example according to CPJ “Mikhael was shot in the head, the station said. The source of fire was not immediately clear, although news accounts reported that military forces had fired on protesters during the demonstrations”. It is considered a human right to have the freedom to xpress once self through the freedom of speech. Even when it is been clearly violated to the utmost no proper action is been taken against those afflicting this freedom. Not even the United Nations. Egypt is in need of  saving now more so ever than before.

 Sources-,Aljezeira,RFS,CPJ,Britiannica,Buzzfeed,Cambrigde uni

 

Rachel.Silva 

ICPFJ

INTERNATIONAL CENTER FOR THE PROTECTION AND FREEDOM OF JOURNALISTS