Leadership Council for Human Rights

~ Feet in the mud, head in the sky ~

Friday, March 31, 2006

Egypt News Update

A New Freedom of Press

March 27, 2005

Egypt – During the Egyptian parliamentary elections last fall, many newspapers reported a fair and equal election. However, that was not the only perspective published on the election, marking a new openness in the press.

The newspaper al-Masri al-Yom, or the Daily Egyptian, reported "death threats, bribes, violence and partisan security forces." It said that "the elections were marred by irregularities and violations carried out by a large number of [Mubarak's] National Democratic Party and independent candidates and their militias, which prevented people from entering polling stations."

Washington Post columnist Jackson Diehl, in his piece, “The Freedom to Describe Dictatorship,” wrote that it is accurate reports like this, despite the un-democratic situation being reported, that is the strongest single sign that Egypt's stifling and stagnant autocracy has begun to unravel. If there were more laws to protect the rights of the press, however, more papers might dare to tell the truth, like al-Masri al-Yom.

Click here for Diehl’s full editorial.

Egyptian Journalist Create Press Law against Imprisonment

March 29, 2006

CAIRO – Plans to pressure the government to cancel prison sentences for publication offences topped the agenda of last Friday's Press Syndicate general assembly. AL-AHRAM newspaper reports journalists asking that the draft press law, drawn up by the syndicate several years ago, be submitted to parliament for discussion.

Prior to the opening of the Fourth General Congress of Journalists in 2004, President Hosni Mubarak informed Press Syndicate Chairman Galal Aref that custodial sentences for publication offences were no longer applicable. Optimistic journalists were silenced when the prison sentence came for two journalists from different daily Egyptian newspaper agencies. Currently more than 100 journalists are waiting for their court rulings and could soon face a life behind bars.

Click here for the full story.

Women oppressed in Arab Laws

March 29, 2006

Cairo – This week the Arab League issued a four-volume encyclopedia on the status of women in national legislation.

The road ahead is still difficult, because despite the many achievements much more still needs to be done for women in the Arab world, commented Arab League Secretary-General Amr Moussa at the inauguration of the encyclopedia at the Cairo headquarters of the Arab organization on Sunday.

The harshest laws for women are those concerned with marriage and divorce. Also, in many Arab states there are no personal status laws. Aside from describing places in which women have few rights, the encyclopedia discusses positive developments that have occurred.

This encyclopedia, said Hanaa Sorour, head of the Women's Division at the Arab League, is not meant to dishearten women in the Arab world. The objective, she explained, is to collect all relevant legislation and highlight areas that require attention and advocacy by national women's groups.

Click here for the full story.


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