Hundreds of Egyptian journalists have signed an online statement released Sunday rejecting a recent agreement between the editors in chief of several major Egyptian newspapers, in which they vowed to support the government’s anti-terrorism rhetoric.
The journalists condemned “the repudiation of freedom of opinion and expression” inherent in the agreement between the newspaper editors, calling their joint statement “an affront to the dignity of every journalist and above all a victory for terrorism”.
The statement, which was diffused through social media, went on to say that the agreement supported “a return to the ages of tyranny and repression” and that keeping the people in ignorance of what is actually happening would only contribute to create an environment conducive to terrorism.
“Terrorism is an enemy of information and knowledge,” said the statement. Confronting it “has nothing to do with the nationalisation of the newspapers and the voluntary renunciation of freedom of opinion.”
The agreement between the editors in chief of several major state-owned and private newspapers was published on 26 October in the news portal of Al-Wafd newspaper, in the form of a joint statement. The adhering editors pledged unconditional support for the armed forces and the police and affirmed that they would “stop publishing any statements that may incite violence, support terrorism, or exaggerate the size of the Muslim Brotherhood protests inside and outside universities”.
The journalists’ response statement, on the other hand, upheld the people’s right to free and unbiased information, regardless of the personal dangers for media professionals. “Egyptian journalists have tasted the bitterness of prisons and of the increasingly draconian security measures, and will not stand idly before the onslaught of power, and will not stop for one moment, but will continue in the performance of their professional and national duties, in the face of terrorism, which targets us all.”
As of Sunday evening, approximately 400 journalists had signed the statement.