The Listening Post

Egypt’s media: Revolution and reality

What is the state of Egypt’s media five years after the toppling of Mubarak? Plus, behind the UK’s surveillance reform.

Five years on from the January 25 revolution that represented the high watermark of the Arab Spring, Egypt’s authorities and broadcast media in the country have been spreading a clear message: do not take to the streets.

Last week, Egypt’s authorities arrested five people who ran Facebook pages marking the anniversary of the revolution. According to press freedom groups, the number of journalists in Egyptian jails is at an all-time high.

The bulk of the mainstream news media in Egypt aligned itself with President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi when he took power from the Muslim Brotherhood, but there are signs now that their wholesale acceptance of his rule is wavering.

TV and print outlets are re-discovering their critical faculties on matters of governance, corruption and economic policy. However, there are limits to how far the government will allow dissent and those who cross the line risk much more than their jobs.

Other stories on Our Radar this week: At least seven media workers in Afghanistan have been killed in a Taliban bombing in Kabul; in Yemen, a freelance reporter has been killed and a three-man crew from Al Jazeera Arabic has gone missing; Washington Post Iran correspondent Jason Rezaian has been freed after a year-and-a-half in a Tehran jail; and the veil is slowly being lifted on the mysterious story of five missing Hong Kong publishers.

The ‘Snoopers’ Charter’: Surveillance in the UK

In the UK, the government is in the midst of rewriting the country’s laws on surveillance and national security through a piece of legislation called the Investigatory Powers Bill, or IPB – and journalists will be watching this story closely.

Referred to by its critics as the “Snoopers’ Charter”, the bill is designed to pull together all laws regulating how the government, police and intelligence services can surveil its citizens, including journalists.

The Listening Post‘s Flo Phillips reports on the relationship between the security state in the UK and the journalists who dare to challenge it.

Returning to Egypt, five years ago, one of the anthems of the January 25 revolution was Ramy Essam’s “Bread, Freedom and Social Justice”.

Since then, both he and his country have moved on; Essam has relocated to Sweden and Egypt now has another former military man in charge.

Last year, Essam released “Beans are caviar”, its message being that Egyptians, in their enthusiasm for the Sisi government, are mistaking a basic food staple for something of gourmet value.