Egypt’s Press Syndicate Voices Concerns About ‘Return of Newspaper Censorship’

Egypt’s Press Syndicate Voices Concerns About ‘Return of Newspaper Censorship’

A protester rallies in support of journalists who were detained by Egyptian authorities, in front of the Press Syndicate in Cairo. June 1, 2014. (Photo: Reuters/Mohamed Abd El Ghany)
A protester rallies in support of journalists who were detained by Egyptian authorities, in front of the Press Syndicate in Cairo. June 1, 2014. (Photo: Reuters/Mohamed Abd El Ghany)

The Egyptian press syndicate condemned on Sunday “halting the printing of newspapers and intervening in their contents.”

The syndicate voiced concern over the “emergence of strong indicators on return of newspaper censorship.”

The contents of newspapers have been omitted or amended by “unknown oversight bodies”, the syndicate’s freedom committee said in a statement posted on its website, citing the chief editors of newspapers.

This has been recurring over the past period inside state printing houses, the syndicate added.

Gamal Soltan, the chief editor of ِAlmesreyoon said on Twitter on Saturday that “a sovereign authority decided to stop the printing” of the paper in objection to an article by the chief editor with the title, “Why does Sisi not stop playing the role of the Islamic thinker?”

The authority said the article must be changed.

The freedom committee at the press syndicate said it was observed that all of the topics which were not printed are about top state leadership, which indicates that there a direction to restrict press freedom and freedom of expression.

The press syndicate said one newspaper was shredded after printing and the printing of two newspapers was stalled on one day to change specific topics.

The syndicate named Almesreyoon among other newspapers that have been subjected to this.

“The freedom committee calls for an end to these violations,” the statement said.

Article 71 of the Egyptian Constitution said the censoring, confiscation, suspension or shutdown of newspapers and media services is prohibited. It adds that they me placed under limited censorship in time of war.

Last week, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi ratified the anti-terrorism law, which issues the green light for a series of new penalties that can be applied onto people involved in terror-related activities.

Rights groups have feared that the law expands the definition of terrorism and that it will restrict press freedom.

The Egyptian state maintains that does not limit press freedoms. Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi denied earlier in August that any journalists are detained in Egypt in cases related to publishing or press freedom.

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Aswat Masriya is a Thomson Reuters Foundation-sponsored website that covers Egypt's transition to democracy.

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