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Egyptian Media: “Things Remain Unstable”

September 10, 2011

Khaled Dawoud (this is an older picture from an alumni event at AUC)

The web site “On the Media” has a 5 minute podcast on the current state of openness in the Egyptian media. The featured speaker is Khaled Dawoud, journalist for Al Ahram and Al-Jazeera, who says that despite a proliferation of new voices in the media, the military remains a red line journalists can’t cross.

“Things remain unstable in the Egyptian media as in the country in general,” Dawoud pointed out. “The Egyptian Armed Forces has started referring a few activists, bloggers, and even some freelance journalists, to military trials after writing some critical views and opinions of the military itself.”

On the role the military council is taking toward monitoring and censoring media, Dawoud said:

And especially people became more concerned recently after we saw one young activist who was referred to a military court simply because of a tweet, in which he was very critical of the military forces. And everybody said at that time that even the former regime wouldn’t refer people to military trials because of a tweet or because of some stuff she wrote on her Facebook page.

BROOKE GLADSTONE:

It sounds like what you’re saying is things are less free than they were back in April.

KHALED DAWOUD:

I wouldn’t go that far but definitely the military council proved to be impatient with their criticism and, you know, within all the  problems that we’re having – lack of security, economic problems – we really wonder why are the military people taking the time to look into every single Facebook page or tweet by activists, instead of working on solving the problems of the country itself.

The “On the Media” reporter, Brooke Gladstone, is framing this interview as a taste of what the Libyan revolution must yet face as they seek to create a new government. She asks Khaled his advice:

They’ll find that the post-dictatorship period is not as easy as, as they might have hoped or aspired to. And they have to prepare themselves for an open society in which everything will be under observation, in which everything would be open for criticism and to be tolerant of that.

A graduate of the American University in Cairo’s Adhem Center for Television Broadcasting, Dawoud has held several positions with Al-Ahram, as well as with Al-Jazeera. Early on, he was a strong defender of Al-Jazeera’s independence from the strictures US media put on airing such things as the Bin Ladin tapes or images of dead US soldiers and civilian casualties. Since the uprisings, he has been a strong voice for a media in Egypt uncensored by the state.

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