CAIRO — In a move described by lawyers and free speech advocates as a “charade,” the Egyptian parliament has removed media platforms from the government’s definition of terrorist parties.
In a U-turn, parliament this month decided to exclude language it had just weeks ago written into a proposed amendment to the controversial 2015 anti-terrorism law.
The language initially expanded the definition of terrorism acts to include satellite TV channels, radio stations and social media accounts, which raised concerns about it being another means of suppressing the constitutional rights of Egyptian citizens. It also raised concerns that the language might further darken Egypt’s already-dreary human rights reputation.
So lawmakers, led by parliament Speaker Ali Abdel-Aal and Human Rights Committee chairman Alaa Abed, agreed to discard those entities from the amendments. Bahaa Eddin Abu Shoka, head of parliament’s Legislative and Constitutional Affairs Committee, also approved the removal.
State-owned daily newspaper Al-Ahram cited Abu Shoka as telling his fellow parliament members Feb. 12, “As the inclusion of such media outlets … could stir up a lot of problems for Egypt in the international media and human rights circles, I approve that these … be removed from the new amendments to the law.”
Lawyer Gamal Eid, executive director of the Arabic Network for Human Rights Information, accused parliament of “tampering with legislations.”
“The fact that the lawmakers removed that article is nothing but a mere charade. If the authorities decide to deem a journalist a terrorist, they can still do so under that infamous [anti-terrorism] law, claiming that the company [she or he] works for has carried out terrorist activities or incited the viewers to undertake them,” Eid told Al-Monitor.
In fact, the final text of the amendment states that “associations, organizations, groups and institutions can be designated as terrorist as long as they are involved in any way in harming citizens, spreading terrorism and endangering their lives, freedoms, rights and security.” It can be applied to these entities whether they are operating in Egypt or abroad.
During the parliament discussions, Abdel-Aal and Abed further said that inclusion of the word “companies” in the new version indicated that this could also entail media outlets inciting violence and promoting terrorism.
“The law entails loopholes that could still be used to incriminate journalists and other media professionals,” Eid argued.
Human rights lawyer Mohsen el-Bahnasy shares Eid’s concerns.
“It’s kind of an underhanded tactic. Putting in those articles [about media platforms] and then removing them afterward is a kind of legal fiction. The legislators tackled them differently as being affiliated to companies,” Bahnasy argued.
Meanwhile, the majority of parliament members, known for being loyal to Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, eventually approved the final form of the amendment Feb. 10, referring it to the State Council for revision.
When the anti-terrorism law was first enacted in 2015, the journalists’ union and several local and international human rights organizations voiced concerns about a possible crackdown on the media in Egypt in the name of counterterrorism.
Egyptian media outlets have been facing difficult challenges over the past five years, mostly being unable to explicitly criticize the government or the regime.
“Whether there is a law or not, journalists are targeted all the time, despite the fact that the [Egyptian] Constitution includes articles that guarantee the freedom of media and speech that are never applied,” Khaled el-Balshy, former head of the Freedoms Committee of the Egyptian Journalists Union, told Al-Monitor.
The media in Egypt has deteriorated in the face of these restrictions. “What we have now is nothing but public relations,” said the outspoken journalist, adding that he is currently jobless due to the lack of press freedom in the country.
About 20 journalists are behind bars in Egypt. According to the World Press Freedom Index of 2019, released by Reporters Without Borders, Egypt ranked No. 163 out of 180 countries in press freedom, down two spots from 2018.
Apart from the anti-terror law, Egypt has taken other measures against what are perceived as acts of terrorism. In October, parliament formed a new Counterterrorism Committee tasked with revising laws, giving concerned authorities more power to fight terror and speeding up the trials of terrorism suspects.
In recent years, the state has adopted a legal framework hindering media freedom in the country. About 500 news portals and websites of local and international organizations, such as Human Rights Watch and Reporters Without Borders, were blocked in Egypt ahead of the 2018 presidential elections.
Egypt had earlier tightened control on broadcasts and foreign channels known for criticizing the government and the regime after the military coup that overthrew late Islamist President Mohammed Morsi in 2013 following mass protests critical of his regime.
Amazon reveals ‘Lord of the Rings’ subtitle that hints at storyline
The long-awaited, expensive Middle-earth fantasy series from Amazon.com Inc has a name: “The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power.”
Amazon’s Prime Video revealed the full name of the fantasy series on Wednesday ahead of its planned streaming debut of Sept. 2.
The show’s storyline takes place thousands of years before the events in writer J.R.R. Tolkien’s “Lord of the Rings” books, which are set in the fictional land of Middle-earth and were brought to life in blockbuster movies.
The subtitle foreshadows a story “that welds the major events of Tolkien’s Second Age together: the forging of the iconic rings,” Amazon said in a statement.
Creators J.D. Payne and Patrick McKay said the series “unites all the major stories of Middle-earth’s Second Age: the forging of the rings, the rise of the Dark Lord Sauron, the epic tale of Numenor, and the Last Alliance of Elves and Men.”
“Until now, audiences have only seen on screen the story of the One Ring,” they added. “But before there was one, there were many … and we’re excited to share the epic story of them all.”
Amazon spent about $465 million filming the first season of the show, according to government officials in New Zealand, where the series was filmed. The company is expecting to make five seasons of the show, making it one of the most expensive TV series ever.
The first season will be available in more than 240 nations in multiple languages, Amazon said. New episodes will be released weekly.
(Reporting by Lisa Richwine; Editing by Leslie Adler)
Media Advisory: Premier Furey, Minister Osborne, Minister Haggie and Dr. Fitzgerald Available to Media – News Releases – Government of Newfoundland and Labrador
The Honourable Andrew Furey, Premier of Newfoundland and Labrador, the Honourable Tom Osborne, Minister of Education, the Honourable John Haggie, Minister of Health and Community Services, and Dr. Janice Fitzgerald, Chief Medical Officer of Health, will hold a media availability tomorrow (Thursday, January 20) at 2:00 p.m. to discuss COVID-19 and in-person learning for K-12 students. They will be joined by Tony Stack, CEO and Director of Education of the NLESD.
The availability will be virtual and all participating media will join by teleconference only. To participate, please RSVP to Jillian Hood (email@example.com) who will provide the required details.
Media planning to participate must join the teleconference at 1:45 p.m. (NST) to be included on the call. For sound quality purposes, media calling in are asked to use a land line if at all possible.
– 30 –
Health and Community Services
Reporter reflects on relationship between athletes, media after testy exchange with Oilers’ Leon Draisaitl – Global News
A veteran Edmonton sports reporter whose career has seen him be inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame says he believes it’s more difficult for journalists to smooth things over when there’s friction with an athlete than it used to be.
“It’s not supposed to be an adversarial relationship between the media and the players,” Postmedia writer Jim Matheson told Reid Wilkins of 630 CHED’s Inside Sports radio program on Tuesday night. “I’ve been doing this a long time. I think I’m very fair at what I do.”
“Obviously, something I’ve written or said has ticked him off, but I have no idea what that is,” Matheson said.
“It’s not the most pleasant situation to be honest.”
Matheson asked the German-born Draisaitl questions after the Oilers practised at Edmonton’s Rogers Place on Tuesday about the team being mired in a weeks-long funk after a dominant start to their NHL season.
The journalist, who has covered the Oilers for about 40 years, asked Draisaitl if, amid the team’s second six-game losing streak, he had thought the team was past getting into such slumps after the Oilers’ last two regular seasons were quite successful.
“Sure. Yeah,” Draisaitl said.
Matheson then asked Draisaitl for his thoughts on what the biggest reason is for the team’s recent losses and what the one thing is he thinks is most important for the team to improve on.
“Yeah, we have to get better at everything,” Draisaitl replied.
“Would you like to expand on that?” Matheson countered.
“No,” Draisaitl answered. “You can do that. You know everything.”
At that point, Matheson decided to ask Draisaitl why he was being so “pissy.” Draisaitl said he was simply answering the questions and Matheson suggested they weren’t very “good” answers.
“I have one more for you,” Matheson then said. “Leon, you show your frustration on the ice last game against Ottawa. Is that a good thing when you show it so the other team knows you’re frustrated?”
“Yeah it’s a great thing for sure,” Draisaitl answered.
After his answer, a voice in the background of the media availability can be heard saying, “I think we’re done.”
Matheson said he was aware the exchange blew up on social media almost immediately after it happened but pointed out that as a journalist, he does not want to be part of the story.
“And when I write my story tomorrow, I will not be the story either,” he said. “I will just say that Leon wasn’t very illuminating with his answers.”
The Oilers’ recent struggles have been compounded by the fact the team will have gone through a stretch this month of only playing one game in 15 days as an indirect consequence of pandemic-related public health restrictions. Some players have suggested having to stew in their problems as they wait to get their season back on track has been difficult.
Matheson told Wilkins that coincidentally, the pandemic may also indirectly be making it more difficult to smooth things over with a player when there is friction between him and a reporter.
“Things aren’t the way they used to be and they need to go back to the old days,” he said Tuesday night. “If I was having a disagreement with a player, you could sit beside him in the dressing room and say, ‘Have I done something to upset you? Tell me what it is and I can try to make it better if it’s something I said or did.’”
Matheson said if the player feels he is deserved an apology and he can understand why, he has no problem offering him one.
“I’ve written some things over the years… where you’ve tossed off some gratuitous shot which seemed like a cheap shot at a player and then you go to bed at night and you sleep and you toss and turn and you get up in the morning and you say, ‘That wasn’t very nice of me,’” he said. “And then the next day at practice, you go up to a player and you say, ‘I’m sorry, that wasn’t a very nice thing to say,’ and you can apologize and go on from there.
“But that’s not the way it works now in today’s NHL… because with COVID, you don’t get into the dressing room and so you can’t sit beside a player and say, ‘Look, have I done something to upset you?’”
Wilkins said he reached out to the Oilers to ask if Draisaitl wanted to appear on his program as he was going to speak with Matheson about the awkward media availability. He said the Oilers politely declined to make him available, saying they felt he did not need to rehash what was said.
“I thought I asked a couple of softball questions to start with,” Matheson said, noting that another Oiler answered many of the same questions on Tuesday without one-word answers.
“But Leon didn’t want to answer the question, so he just said, ‘Everything.’ OK. I thought it was just a normal, ‘Would you like to expand on that?’ and he said, ‘no.’ And that’s when I said, ‘Look, I’m getting one word answers, so…’”
While Matheson said he would like the opportunity to talk to Draisaitl to see if there is something he has done to upset him, he does not regret asking the NHL’s 2020 Hart Trophy winner why he was being “pissy.”
“If I walk away and just take what he said, then I don’t look very good, so I was just standing up for myself,” he said.
© 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.
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