Quote of the day - Ibrahim Eissa
¨I've found out that I'm allowed to take my iPod," he said cheerfully. "This is progress in the Mubarak era. Yes, they do torture you in your cell, but they allow you to listen to your iPod!"
The quote is taken from Liz Sly´s article - Egypt's media defy Mubarak at their peril (Chicago Tribune) on October 15th. i have been having trouble with the link all morning. Hopefully it will be ok now, but if this continues you can find it on my del.icio.us account. Sorry for the inconvenience.
Ibrahim Eissa is one of seven Egyptian journalists who has been sentenced to prison the last months. Five of them editors of free and opposition papers, basically the Cremé de´la Cremé of the independent press. First among them being Eissa himself, who started a new trend of journalism in Egypt when he launched ad Dustour in 1995.
He was sentenced in a case with his mentor Adel Hamouda of al Fajr, and once upon a time editor of the (not so prestigious any more) prestigious Rose al Yousef, Abd al Halim Qandil, the previous al Arabi and Karama editor and Wael Ibrashy of Sawt al Umma , all of them recieved one year terms.
All of them have also been subjugated to court processes before and in November 2004 Qandil was fetched away in a car in broad daylight by goons, driven into the desert, beaten , told to shut up and quit writing about his masters and finally being stripped naked before leaving him in the desert.
The other three journalists are from the liberal opposition party paper al Wafd. The editor of the paper Anwar al-Hawari, and journalists Mahmud Ghallab and Amir Othman received a two year sentence for "damaging the image of justice" , meaning that they misquoted the Minister of Justice , Mamduh Marei, claiming he said that 90 percent of Egyptian judges were not up to the job. Marei is of course the one who was put in the office after having proved himself as the chairman of the Presidential Elections Commission during the September 2005 election, were he took the opposite stance of the reform minded judges, and he´s current task is much about defusing that movement.
Another editor faces trial, for writing about President Mubarak´s health, Muhammed Sayyid Said of the newly launched secular leftist al Badil.
On the 23rd of February 2004, President Mubarak pledged to change the law, so that journalists don´t risk receiving prison sentences for libel. Although parliament amended the press law in July 2006, it did little, if any change to journalists chances to conduct proper journalistic work, without feeling threatened by possible prison sentences. In a week´s time it will be three years and eight months since President Mubarak´s promise. In July 2006 and again last Sunday, 22 papers of the free press stopped the presses one day, for that principle as well as protesting against the current jailing of editors and journalists.
Ibrahim Eissa is due up in court with yet another case on the 26th of October, with no less than nine charges against him , so much that his lawyer Hafez Abu Saada asked for more time during the opening session on the first of October.
This is a IFEX statement on the sentences mentioned above. Arabist has an audio recording of Eissas speech at the journalists syndicate on September 14th.
I would like to end this post in the same way i started - with a quote by Hafez Abu Saada on the jailing of the four editors mentioned above.
"This is something very unique to Egypt," he said. "I have never seen, at least in the last five years, any country that jails four editors in one day."