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Rights group reveals 581 cases of media freedom abuses in 2013
Journalists strike at Journalists Syndicate

A media watch group revealed on Thursday 581 cases of violations of media freedom, which coincide with the escalating violence following the ouster of former President Mohamed Morsi.

In its annual report on media freedom, the Support Center for Information Technology (SCIT) stated that 2013 witnessed the highest level of crackdowns on the press, with 581 cases of violations, compared to 185 cases in 2012, and 280 cases in 2011.

SCIT stated the lack of media independence as the main reason behind the deterioration of press freedom in Egypt, which is largely a result of a legal system that does not allow media organizations to establish an independent system of ownership that is free from the control of both the state and corporate owners.

In the first half of the year, the report explained that most violations of press freedom were limited to accusations of insulting the president and the Muslim Brotherhood, which was in power at the time, as well accusations of religious blasphemy.

According to the report, following Morsi’s ouster and the increasing violence that ensued, attacks on media freedom doubled, either by supporters of the ousted president, or by the state.

The report referred to cases of attacks against journalists by Muslim Brotherhood supporters, giving the example of the kidnapping of a broadcasting vehicle belonging to state television.

In the midst of the state’s current “war on terrorism”, violations against journalists and media personnel by the government have also increased. The atmosphere surrounding the alleged war, according to the report, has silenced all voices of dissent, and made it extremely difficult to call for press freedom.

The report listed the closure of religious television channels and an increase in the number of physical attacks against journalists by security forces as major indications of a serious crackdown on press freedom.

SCIT also referred to a hostile environment for journalists, who are stuck between unprofessional media practices on one side and the lack of legal and physical protection during field work on the other.

“Concepts like media independence and freedom of the press are not just abstract human rights concepts that can be imposed only through legal reform, but they are concepts that require the struggle and hard work of those who work in the media, as well as press freedom defenders. They also need an atmosphere and public opinion that defends them,” the report said.