Trump World Grab-Bag--A Collection

Monday, November 9, 2015

Free Speech Update: Another Nail in the Coffin?

The climate regarding freedom of speech in Egypt under President al-Sisi is becoming steadily more deplorable.  The recent arrest of Hossam Bahgat, a respected human rights defender and journalist, has been described as "another nail in the coffin" for freedom of speech in Egypt.

This is just the latest thing--Egypt is in the middle of a crackdown regarding journalism, and one of the more disturbing things they are doing is charging journalists with "reporting false stories" and calling that a kind of terrorism. If someone gets a story wrong, is that reason for mortal terror? Wouldn't it make more sense, if a story was actually incorrect, to simply make sure that the contradictory evidence was published?

Also recently arrested was Saleh Diab, the founder of al-Masry al-Youm for reasons that aren't clear. Maybe there's a good reason--maybe the government is trying to intimidate a publisher. It's a weird game being played--arrest some journalists, try them without even putting a good case against them, or hold them without charges, or sentence them and maybe let them go after a year or so--they'll get the hint.

But the thing is, isn't this awfully insecure? It's not like people with eyes can't tell when a government is becoming especially oppressive, and it's not like the reasons why can't be sussed out. But they are cracking down on critical journalists instead of real terrorists. Where people can't even discuss how effective a flood response was without being sidelined and made to be afraid for their job, how can a government pretend they are interested in working for the people, who they want to keep ill-informed and who they feel too insecure about to trust with informed opinions?

This is temporarily bad news for Egyptian journalists, but it looks to me like long-term bad news for al-Sisi, because his insecurity may be well-founded. But targeting journalists is idiotic---he can arrest people and hold them in Egypt. But the whole world is watching.


mikey said...

Of course, clean hands are hard to find...

mikey said...

A better linky:

Vixen Strangely said...

Mizzou's black students' protests aren't necessarily undermined by one professor's sudden censorious urge, but I'll go with what Rude pundit says:

It looks like there genuinely is a hate-based problem there that several POC have been dealing with, and that the reaction to people questioning it has led to death threats and the like tells me students have a reason to be concerned that some kind of violence is being fomented against them. Not, maybe that reaction from white students is being accelerated by their speaking up--but that's sometimes how it goes. But I do not believe these students are signifying based on no reason.

And that the person who tried to deny access to the more personal area of the student protest (reminiscent to me of the areas where Occupy activists rested) was trying to gatekeep a space where people were legit not protesting so much as sleeping and maybe not being "on", seems like it should be a legitimate line. Maybe not everyone is always ready to rise and shine for the cameras. Maybe there is a need for delineations of public protest and private space.

But a private denial of access to a space where minor news is taking place isn't quite the same as the systematic dissuasion and criminalization taking place against watchdogs and whistleblowers in places far more complicated than a college campus.

Not to demean the antiracism concerns of the Mizzou protesters, but to remind that more horrible free speech denials and coverups certainly do exist.