The Association for Freedom of Thought and Expression (AFTE) released a report on Monday detailing the struggles that foreign journalists face in Egypt. It mentioned, in particular, restrictions on freedom of speech and expression as well as xenophobia, all of which are on the rise in Egypt, the association said.
The report, entitled “Journalists and Foreign Correspondents in Egypt”, traces the stories and experiences of foreign media workers. It reviews the “obstacles” that stand in the way of their work, and lists the violations they are exposed to “almost daily”.
The AFTE study covers the period between January 2011 and October 2014. The association describes this as a “time when the journalistic community in Egypt is facing unprecedented challenges and difficulties”. These come especially in light of the “anti-freedom of press and media discourse”.
Mainstream media departments have been supporting such trends, as well as general state policies and the state’s so-called “anti-terrorism” measures, the statement said.
State media also draws on the negative stereotype of the foreign media in Egypt as biased and “hostile to the national security of the nation”. This stereotype frames foreign media as forming spaces for the “spreading of rumours” meant to “target the interests of the country”.
AFTE’s report sought to contest such stereotypes by conducting interviews with foreign journalists and correspondents in Egypt, the statement added.
The report documented a total of 184 violations over the past three years, including physical and sexual violations, incidents of killing, the confiscation of work equipment and personal belongings, raids on journalists’ homes, and other practices that prevented journalists from doing their work.
Many have stated that as restrictions on the freedom of press increased, journalists’ permits and legal procedures are useless in providing security and legal protection.
The report also raises the issue of xenophobia and the reasons for its increase, which it attributed in large part to local media discourse.
The report’s conclusion reviews journalists’ work profiles and offers a glimpse of the investigative work foreign media has done in Egypt.
AFTE recommended that government change its policies and “provide a safer work environment for foreign journalists and correspondents in Egypt” in addition to stopping the “antagonistic” public discourses against them. It also called for the easing of processes for obtaining work permits, and “protecting their right to access and publish information”.
The state has been called out on its crackdown of freedom of speech and expression, by dozens of local and international rights organisations.
On 26 October, the editors-in-chief of several major state-owned and private newspapers met and announced their support of the Egyptian state in its fight against extremist militants. It was what they called “an official declaration of the nationalisation of press freedom in the country, which will lead to more censorship and restrictions”.