CPJ's launch yesterday in Cairo of our 2008 edition of Attacks on the Press received widespread
coverage in the Egyptian, regional, and international media. But not from the
state media, which made little mention of Egypt's ongoing repression of the country's
press, or of the astonishing number of lawsuits the government has pending
against journalists, or of the moves it has made to restrict regional satellite
Whether certain media organizations covered the press
conference at the Egyptian Journalists' Syndicate and how they chose to cover it
spoke to the state of the media in Egypt
and the Middle East at large. The fiercely
independent Egyptian daily Al-Badeel (The Alternative) devoted an
entire page to the conference and the book, covering not just the Middle East portion of the report, but our findings on
the world as a whole. Other independent Egyptian dailies--like Al-Masri
Al-Youm, Al-Dustur, and the English-language Daily News--also ran
On the other hand, of Egypt's three governmental and
semi-governmental dailies, one wrote a perfunctory story that merely announced
that a press conference had taken place and neglected to note any of its
conclusions, while the other two ignored it altogether. Rose al-Yussuf,
a pro-government Egyptian daily known for running paid opinion pieces and
advertising (by different governments in the region that inevitably smear
respected journalists and human rights activists) in the garb of independent
journalism, ran a story on the launch of the book with the headline "CPJ: The
Iranian regime continues to pursue civil society organizations...and Iraq
remains the world's bloodiest country for journalists." While the report does
indeed make those observations, the word "Egypt"
appears only once in the lengthy article, and only in passing.
Overall, the launch and the television, radio, and print,
interviews that I and my colleague Kamel Labidi, CPJ's Middle East and North Africa representative, conducted were a success by
any measure. The coverage by many Egyptian and regional publications and
television stations was for the most part heartening, but also shows that a
long road lies ahead before one can say that the Middle East and North Africa enjoy a free press. Our courageous
colleagues fight that good fight on a daily basis, and we salute them for it.
UPDATE: Here's a piece (in Arabic) aired by Al-Jazeera:
CPJ Middle East and North Africa Program Coordinator Mohamed Abdel Dayem has a master’s degree from the School of Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins University. He has led CPJ missions to Egypt and Yemen.