Thursday, February 20, 2014

Egypt Extends Crackdown to Journalists

On Thursday, three journalists were put before the court for filing news reports for Al-Jazeera English.  The prosecutors believed that they had links to terrorists, detaining the men for weeks.  Their charges are part of a crackdown by Egypt's military-backed government that has captured reporters, filmmakers, and bloggers. This all began with the mass arrests of the Egyptian government's enemies in the Muslim Brotherhood, but has quickly expanded into a campaign against all critics of the government.  Since the military ousting of President Mohammed Morsi in July, at least sixty journalists have been detained with nine still in custody.  Peter Gretse, one of the Jazeera journalists wrote in a letter from prison, "This is a dangerous decision. It validates an attack not just on me and my two colleagues but on freedom of speech across Egypt."  Gretse along with seventeen other journalists are charged in the same cases with allegations of possessing materials promoting a terrorist organization and distorting Egypt's image by suggesting that the country is in a civil war.

In a world that heavily relies on the media as a source of news, I think that it is important that world events and crises should be seen accurately, rather than in the way the government wants.  While I don't find it hard to believe that the Egyptian government would bring these journalists to court, it is unsettling to hear.  These men are criminals and terrorists in the eyes of the Egyptian government and its not right.  Even though Al-Jazeera is owned by Qatar (a country which Egypt is in a struggle with), the Egyptian government shouldn't be taking these journalists to court for doing their job.

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