Freedom of Media and Creativity Between the President's Promises and Practices

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President Mohammad Morsi promised not to break a pen, close down a newspaper or channel during his tenure. In “Our Right in 100 days” Campaign, we urged him to immediately abolish the post of the Minister of Information and to start taking the necessary steps required to put an end to the control of executive authority on state-run means of media, ensure freedom of media and media professionals, including the termination of all types of incitement against other religions or doctrines via media means, as well as halting all forms of censorship that hinder creativity and restrict freedoms. However, less than fifty days after the President took office, we witnessed closure of a satellite channel, confiscation of a newspaper and referral of three editors-in-chief to investigation on flimsy charges. Over and above, several articles were prevented from publishing, not to mention the seditious rhetoric, shedding blood of outlaws and naming media professionals as violators. This comes at the time where censorship resumes the practice of its control over creative persons to the extent of filing lawsuits against artists, along with claiming their imprisonment based on their artistic works. Yet, the government of the elected President did not take any procedure to ensure their freedom and protect them from those charges.

Such repressive and intimidating climate which targets – contrary to the President’s promise – breaking pens and closing down outlets of creativity and expression, predicts an unjust violation that may ascend to the use of violence against creative persons and media professionals, besides restricting freedoms of expression and creativity. Within this framework and as part of Our Right in 100 days proceedings, the Campaign launches its second film of “Absent Rights” films series under the title of “Freedom of Media and Creativity”.

The film focuses on the freedom of media and artistic creativity, and how the current atmosphere contributes to the restriction of information circulation, repression of creativity through the control of censorship, which adopts matters that are far from artistic evaluation standards. In addition, both aspects of media, visual and written, suffer from threats of closure, confiscation, prevention, defamation and imprisonment, besides the difficulty of accessing information. The film further tackles the set of laws and legislations that restrict creativity, threaten all forms of opinion expression platforms and place creative persons as victims of authority. Such restrictions that have existed along many years before the Revolution should have been removed by the promises of the first elected president, yet his practices and government came supportive to and pleased with such restrictions.

It is worth mentioning that “Our Right in 100 Days” Campaign was launched by the independent human rights organization forum with the aim of imposing human rights priorities on the agenda of President Mohammad Morsi during the first hundred days of his ruling. The Campaign had launched and participated in the preparation and coordination of a number of events seeking to highlight several rights and issues pertaining to human rights, and which had not appeared on the President’s agenda. This film is considered to be the second within the framework of a series of films intended to be prepared by the Campaign during the coming period under the title of “Absent Rights”, as an introductory version to the Campaign that aims to impose human rights priorities on President Mohammad Morsi’s agenda during the first hundred days of his rule.

This post is also available in: العربية

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