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TV host suspends show in protest

(ANHRI/IFEX) - Cairo, 22 October 2011 - ANHRI strongly condemns the ongoing restrictions imposed on media freedoms that have been persisted throughout the nine months since the outbreak of the Egyptian uprising. The Military Council took over power in the transitional phase to protect the revolution and help realize its goals. However, it has continuously served to limit freedom of expression and media freedoms. In response to this, the prominent media professional Yosri Fouda decided to suspend his show "Akher Kalam", broadcast on ONTV, for an indefinite period in protest against "the deterioration of media freedom".

Fouda had issued a press statement on 21 October, announcing that there have been direct and indirect pressures on those who still believe in the values of the Egyptian uprising, obliging them to self-impose restrictions on what they discuss.

Fouda was due to host writers and journalists Alaa El-Aswany, Ibrahim Eissa, and Yasser Rezq on 20 October to comment on the death of Gaddafi in Libya, and to analyze the interview two Egyptian army generals had given earlier on Tahrir TV and Dream TV. Although the episode was announced, it was abruptly canceled without any reason given. It later began to be known that the main reason for not broadcasting the episode and the main drive behind Fouda's decision to suspend his show was an intervention by some entities in the selection of the show's guests.

"Nothing is more cruel for a journalist and a media practitioner than having to stop writing and puttng forward his opinion. Thus, we understand how hard it was for Yosri Fouda to make such a decision and to lose his audience. However, it remains a professional and committed stance, and a means of protest by a media professional that respects his principles, pen, and audience, expressed in the most powerful and appropriate way in Fouda's quote: 'speak a good word or remain silent'," said ANHRI.

The Military Council had summoned Hossam El-Hamalwy, blogger and journalist, and Reem Magued, presenter of Baladna Bel Masry TV show, regarding an episode in which El-Hamalawy condemned the violations committed by the military police against Egyptian citizens. The journalists Hossam Al-Sweify and Nabil Sharaf Al-Din were investigated by the Military Prosecution for their remarks on signs of a deal between the Military Council and the Muslim Brotherhood. The activist Asmaa Mahfouz was also investigated by the Military Prosecution for posting a tweet, perceived by the prosecution as offensive. Additionally, journalists have been under strict control and censorship, highlighting the pressures faced by activists and media practitioners in the transitional phase.

It is worth noting that it is not the first time that a show has been affected by censorship. Dream TV had suspended "Dream's Morning" show, presented by the media professional Dina Abdel-Rahman, for an episode in which she criticized a close officer to the Military Council when he offended an Egyptian journalist flagrantly.

As ANHRI monitors and detects the violations committed against the Egyptian media by the Military Council, and the deafening silence by Essam Sharaf's government, it sounds alarm bells to the Egyptian society which fought for freedom, and assures that no society can enjoy democracy while the media is besieged and cuffed. In addition to all that, military trials and the abhorrent state of emergency are still ongoing.

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