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Tens of Egyptian journalists protest ‘shrinking press freedoms’

Some protesters carried a symbolic coffin to express their disgruntlement at current conditions for the press in Egypt

Ahram Online , Thursday 11 Jun 2015
Press Syndicate
Journalists and activists protest against the restriction of press freedom and demand the release of detained journalists in front of the Press Syndicate in Cairo June 10, 2015 (Photo: Reuters)
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Around 300 journalists staged a protest on Wednesday at the Journalists' Syndicate in downtown Cairo against the imprisonment of their colleagues, criticising what they described as the stifling of press freedoms in Egypt.

Participants at the protest – called for by the union's Freedoms Committee – held aloft posters of detained journalists and banners calling for their release.

They also raised slogans to demand higher salaries and syndicate protection from arbitrary sacking by newspaper bosses.

Some protesters carried a symbolic coffin for the press, expressing their disgruntlement at current conditions.

Several syndicate board members took part in the protest, which was staged on the steps of the union’s headquarters, including Khaled El-Balshy, Mahmoud Kamel and Gamal Abdel-Rehim.

Egypt was ranked among the ten worst jailers of journalists in the world in December of last year. The Committee to Protect Journalists said in its annual census that at least 12 journalists, including three Al-Jazeera journalists, are detained in Egypt.

Australian Al-Jazeera journalist Peter Greste has since been released and deported, while the trial of his colleagues continues.

In recent months, more than one print of newspapers was stopped by the authorities for carrying controversial news, and some editors of papers have been questioned over content they published.

A delegation of journalists filed over a dozen reports to the country's public prosecutor on Wednesday against what it described as violations against detained journalists, and demanded better conditions and health care for them.

In a letter from prison published by Amnesty International in April, a 27-year-old Egyptian photojournalist, Mahmoud Abou-Zeid, who spent more than 650 days in detention without charge, said his prison cell resembled a "cemetery" and that he lost his "dignity" at the prison gates.

Abou-Zeid, also known as Shawkan, was arrested in August 2013 while taking photos of the violent dispersal by security forces of a sit-in by supporters of ousted Islamist president Mohammed Morsi.

Participants on Wednesday also staged a brief sit-in and a symbolic strike inside the lobby to stress their anger.

 

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