The Brookings Institute, an independent American research organization, criticized the status of the press freedom in Egypt in a report published yesterday, saying that Egypt has a number of “strict and notorious” laws restricting press freedom.
The report said that Egypt is one of 13 countries that arrest reporters in cases of defamation, even though Article 48 of the Egyptian Constitution guarantees the freedom of the press.
Reporters exercise self-censorship out of fear of being arrested, according to the report. Ahmed Ezz, secretary for organizational affairs in President Hosni Mubarak’s National Democratic Party has the most contentious relationship with the press, according to the report, which said that Ezz filed four lawsuits against four opposition newspapers and their editors in 2009.
Egypt’s independent press presents a major challenge to the political status quo, said the report which described the emergence of independent papers as a relatively new development in Egypt. The report also added that independent newspapers, including Al-Masry Al-Youm which it described as the most popular daily in Egypt, have dedicated followings.
The gap between independent and partisan papers on the one hand and state-owned papers on the other has considerably widened, the report added. A quick comparison between independent and state-owned papers would give the impression that they talk about two different countries.
Translated from the Arabic Edition.