Hail thee Ostrich Land – new Egyptian media censorship law coming up!

Date posted: July 24, 2008


 

I got an email from my friend Tamer El Meehy saying "Do something!" as he forwarded me a copy of the draft of the new Egyptian law of audio-visual transmission and monitoring the internet. In plain English, Egyptian Big Brother Anas Al-Fiqi, Minister of Media, decided that we Egyptians are not grown up enough to handle satellite channels and the world wide web. The proposed law is designed to help us bury our heads further in the sand of the Pharaohs.

Al Masry Al Youm Newspaper reported: The law was originally proposed by Cairo and Riyadh last February, and was rejected by Lebanon, Qatar, UAE and Bahrain last June for the reason of restricting the freedom of speech and opinion. The legislators of the draft law indicated in their introductory memorandum that establishing an authority to organize the audio and visual transmission is intended to stop airing live programs to the public that could threaten the public order and morals, thereby leading to disturbance of the country's safety and security.

 

The law stirred resentment in the enlightened Egyptian blogosphere and within the liberal circles. Wael Nawara wrote a brilliant post {AR} refuting the notion of censoring Egyptian minds and initiated a campaign on facebook calling for "Free Media" in Egypt. The slogan of the campaign is "Against Gagging Egypt!" In his post Wael described the Egyptian Ministry of Media as a Pagan Temple and Anas Al-Fiqi as the head of its priests who

kindly granted Egyptians the valuable gift of a new censorship body that will be in charge of monitoring and controlling what we see and receive on satellite channels and on the internet – of course all in the name of looking after the best interest of Egyptians and Egyptian media.

Wael went on to describe the sobs and sorrows of the simple viewer of Egyptian TV and how

the ordinary viewer was deprived of his basic right of watching his national team play international games on local TV; over and above, Egyptians turned to international news channels be it American, European, or Arab because, although they come across as biased, they manage to broadcast current news as opposed to Egyptian channels that have to wait for "superior directives from above" to decide whether an Egyptian could handle the truth or will it corrupt his innocence and taint him with "bad things" that he could certainly do without.

Wael cited an interesting example of how we – Egyptians – have to wait for five days before we are allowed to watch what goes on in the sessions of the People's Assembly

Of course the material needs to undergo extensive editing, sugar-coating, and face-lifting.

Wael goes on to explain why and how this law was applauded by international satellite channels

Although this law was mainly created to censor/limit such channels, they are fully aware that in the era of globalization this is just impossible. On a brighter note, the new law will hit all independent Egyptian channels killing their potential and their viewership; thus driving more viewers to Arab and International channels starting from Al Jazeera and Al Arabiya to Rotana, MBC, ART, Showtime, Orbit, and Cartoon Network, Disney channel, and Space Toon. Of course we are leaders … we are the masters of screwing ourselves over!

Looking into the current status of the Egyptian satellite channels, Wael says

Over the past 50 years and under the kind auspices of the government and its close supervision of the Egyptian media, we have had unprecedented success in creating almost 40 Egyptian channels that are void of any entertaining content whatsoever and that have been abandoned by an uninterested Egyptian viewer – 40 channels praising the Egyptian government, defending all officials, falsifying news, and denying the obvious.

Wael goes on to discuss the wide-spread corruption in the Egyptian media sector and how talents flee its bureaucracy, mazes and dead-ends. The post ends in a lamenting note mourning our present and dreading our future in a country that is governed by a million Big Brother, Big Foot, and Scarface!

Who do they think they are fooling and who do they think believes their lies? We do not know where we would have been or who we would have become without the "kind supervision" of the Media and those looking after our media interests? If someone was out there to kill Egypt culturally and media-wise, would he have been as successful as our Egyptian government? With all gratitude we would like to tell our government "thank you … but no thank you … we have had enough"

 
Bookmark and Share