Why the case against Al-Jazeera is about journalism not the network

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Azad Ezza writes about why Al-Jazeera is only one part of a puzzle of the growing restrictions on the freedom of expression of ordinary Egyptians.

 

Al-Jazeera journalist and author, Azad Essa.
Al-Jazeera journalist and author, Azad Essa.

“Egypt has traditionally been a difficult country to operate as a journalist. Under Hosni Mubarak, the country’s president for almost three decades, the media were forced to exist under the shadow of harassment and imprisonment.

Editors were often charged with “insulting the president” or “insulting public institutions”. The evidence however suggests conditions were never as bad as they currently are. One Egyptian colleague who has been advised not to return home in fear of being arrested told me that “this is Egypt’s worst period for freedom of speech and expression since Abdel Nasser’s era in the 1950s”.

Al-Jazeera is only one part of a puzzle of the acute political polarisation and mob violence restricting the freedom of expression of ordinary Egyptians daily.

And though thousands of journalists from Nairobi, London and New York taped their mouths and held up placards with the #FreeAJStaff over the past few weeks in a bid to raise more awareness of our plight in the country, we are certainly not the story here.”

Read the full story in Mail & Guardian.

Follow Azad Essa on Twitter: @azadessa

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