Egypt has now welcomed its fifth head of state. According to AFP, Abdel Fattah al Sisi was declared Egypt’s president after a landslide victory of 96.9 per cent votes. In his address after the victory, he said: “The future is a blank page, and it is in our hands to fill with what we want…bread, freedom, human dignity, social justice.”
The ex-army chief Sisi resigned from military in March in order to run for president. Only ten months ago, Sisi helped topple former president Mohammad Morsi — the same Morsi who made him commander-in-chief of the Egyptian army. The new president dislikes Morsi and anybody who supports him, even if that includes the media — go back to the word ‘freedom’ in his quote mentioned above.
According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, at least six journalists have been killed since Morsi’s ouster on July 3, 2013. Most of these journalists were killed while giving coverage to pro-Morsi demonstrations. Adding to it, 16 journalists are currently imprisoned. Dozens more have been detained and released.
To add to the ‘freedom’ of the media that the newly elected president speaks of, his military-backed government has already shut down four television channels, accusing them of sympathising with the Muslim Brotherhood. This is the same Muslim Brotherhood that was declared a terrorist organisation by the military-backed interim government in December 2013. Thousands of its supporters were arrested then.
Recently, Egyptian comedian Bassem Youssef, winded up his show because he feels that it is not safe anymore to ridicule Egyptian politics. Adding to the blatant snatching of the freedom of expression from Egyptians, the government has announced a plan to monitor social media closely. A plan has been announced by Interior Ministry to search Twitter and Facebook for signs of terrorist activity.
The Egyptian government has to conquer a variety of problems that have built up since the revolution of 2011. However, taking away the freedom of expression from the public in today’s world will not be appreciated by the majority. Looks like anti-Sisi talks are not welcome in the modern-day Egypt.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 19th, 2014.
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