World reacts to the criminalization of journalism in Egypt
The imprisonment of three Al Jazeera journalists in Egypt has grasped global attention, not only from journalists who are standing up for their colleagues, but also from their audiences who are demanding the freedom of expression.
News teams have stepped away from their laptops, turned their cameras off, closed their notebooks, and have taken to social media to demand the Egyptian government #FreeAJStaff, racking up nearly 130,000 tweets. Democracy Now! correspondent Sharif Abdel Kouddous said, "What this ruling means is that in Egypt journalism is a crime."
Human rights organizations have also voiced concerns about this verdict. Amnesty International is calling for the immediate release of the journalists:
Amnesty International fears that the charges may be an attempt to punish the journalists for Al Jazeera’s editorial line. The channel has been accused of being biased towards the now banned Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt.
Detained since December 29, 2013, Australian Peter Greste, Canadian-Egyptian Mohamed Fahmy, and Egyptian Baher Mohamed were sentenced yesterday to seven years in jail under charges of aiding a terrorist organization. Baher Mohamed will serve an additional three years for possessing a bullet case.
This is the latest in a string of legal action punishing the press. This week, the Egyptian court also sentenced local journalist Bishoy Armia to five years in prison for "inciting sectarian strife” and “depicting Christians as suffering from sectarian oppression." A week before, Al Jazeera journalist Abdullah Elshamy was released after a 147-day hunger strike and nearly a year in prison with no charge. Earlier this year, an American journalist and Arabic translator was arrested, suspected of belonging to a foreign spy ring. Although he was released, he was beaten repeatedly for allegedly working with a Sinai-based armed group.
Meanwhile, much of Egyptian media has hardly bothered to cover the verdict. Those outlets that have covered it, showed no mercy for the prisoners, denouncing them as members of the Muslim Brotherhood and defending the country for being "a victim of an international media conspiracy," according to independent Egyptian online newspaper Mada Masr.
The BBC compiled a response roundup in the video below:
Whether response has been in support or against the verdict, this Taiwanese Next Media Animation video depicts the situation in a way that only this outlet could, featuring "a court run by kangaroos, and a cameo from Gotye," according to Poynter.
And last but not least, after criticizing Egyptian President Abdelfattah el-Sisi for killing political satire by forcing his counterpart Bassem Youssef to shut down his show, Jon Stewart has "thanked" el-Sisi for "bringing the hammer down on terror-journalists" in a bogus trial where the court was too lazy to even forge evidence: