DUBAI: While Israel’s punishing assaults on Lebanon continue to dominate regional news, human rights abuses continue to be reported elsewhere in the region. Egypt, for example, saw the beginnings of a new era of tighter internet regulation this week.
With Lebanon facing constant Israeli air strikes, a group of United Nations human rights experts on Aug. 7 postponed a mission to the country due to the ongoing conflict.
In Egypt, meanwhile, the Cairo-based Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (HR Info) reported on Aug. 8 that Al-Ahram newspaper, the largest media institution in the Middle East and North Africa, had installed a filter for blocking certain Web sites on its internal computer network. The network serves nearly 15,000 Al-Ahram staff members, including some 2,000 journalists.
Calling the move a “strike against press freedom in Egypt , HR Info noted in a press release that journalists had expressed fears that the number of blocked Web sites would eventually expand to include any material that the Al-Ahram administration, which is ultimately headed by the government, might disapprove of.
“This is a serious and erroneous procedure, especially when it is practiced by a press foundation such as Al-Ahram, said HR Info Executive Director Gamal Eid.
“Such an action is in contradiction with the supposed role of the foundation. We hope that the foundation will correct this procedure and uphold press freedom and the right of journalists to exchange information, Eid added. IRIN