REGIONS:

2007 WORST YEAR FOR EGYPTIAN MEDIA SINCE INDEPENDENCE, SAYS HRINFO

Despite a burgeoning of bloggers and independent media outlets, last year was the worst year on record for the press since Egypt won independence in 1952, the Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (HRInfo) has found. And with many lawsuits launched at the end of 2007, the outlook looks bleak for the year ahead, says HRInfo.

In its first annual report on free expression in Egypt, HRInfo highlights the main threats to press freedom in the country last year, starting with the state's notorious use of criminal defamation laws to silence writers and journalists. But plenty of others threats contributed to the record-breaking year, from the rise of "hesba" ("insult to God") lawsuits, where, under Islamic law, anyone can launch a lawsuit if they believe God has been insulted, to a vigorous censorship system that the government isn't afraid to use.

In the first section, find out which press freedom laws the Egyptian authorities regularly flout and which legislation they use to fine journalists or lock them up. A staggering 500 trials were launched against journalists, writers and bloggers in 2007.

The second half of the report outlines cases of violations against journalists and bloggers - and for the first time, artists. Revisit which journalists went to court for "insulting the President"; see a list of websites that were blocked in 2007; or read about which movie and play scenes didn't make the cut because they fomented revolution.

By the report's end, it becomes obvious how journalists, writers, bloggers and artists have paid "a very high price for the freedom of expression allegedly provided by the government."

To read the report, click here:
- English: http://openarab.net/en/reports/opinion/index.shtml
- Arabic: http://www.hrinfo.net/press/2008/pr0124.shtml
(29 January 2008)

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