CAIRO: During President Hosni Mubarak’s reelection campaign – in what was the first-ever, multi-candidate presidential election – he promised to increase the freedom of the press and end all jail sentences handed down to reporters.
The promise, however, has largely gone unfulfilled. Hundreds of journalists gathered on July 9 in front of parliament to oppose the new press law; more than 20 independent and opposition papers went on strike that day.
How does the Egyptian community regard freedom of expression? The Daily Star Egypt took to the streets to find out and understand how the community views the new press law.
Journalists are the spokesmen of the people. There are some people journalists are not allowed to talk about. With this law, these untouchable people will increase and the group will grow bigger day by day. Our newspapers will end up talking only about sports and fashion. I am completely against putting journalists in jail for ay reason related to their profession. Any democratic government would never allow this.Azza, housewife
Why should we separate between journalists who write for Egyptian publications and those who write for foreign publications? We punish the Egyptian journalists for anything, starting from their salaries to limiting the flow of information. It is not a healthy atmosphere for the press. Medhad, lawyer
There are a lot of really bad newspapers that spread lies about people. I think this law puts some limits on them. But when you talk about people and everything you say is documented, nobody can harm you. But we have had enough with these publications that simply insult people with no clear evidence.Ayman, civil servant
Nobody wants to see journalists imprisoned. This limits the freedom of expression, which is already limited. Imposing a large fine is also considered a limitation to this freedom. Mahmoud, accountant
I am against the law, and I am also against how the press deals with some situations. They talk about the mistakes and errors of the government as if the president doesn t know, although they can’t say that he knows. They leave this to independent publications, which they are now trying to rope in.Yasmine, teacher
There is always respect given to the press anywhere in the world; it is the third authority, after religion and government. But it should have clear rules. We have to admit that some journalists break these rules, but that doesn t give the government the right to break it too by passing such a law.Mostafa, dentist
They take what they call yellow journalism as an excuse for this law. But this journalism is what people read now. They depend on these publications as a good source for news instead of the state owned newspapers, that say only what the government wants. I remember when we all thought that Al Jazeera TV was against Egypt, because that was the effect of the state-owned media. Now we trust it when we watch it. This law wants to make the state-owned newspapers the only source of news for the Egyptian community.Aya, student
The views expressed in Word on the Street do not necessarily reflect the views of The Daily Star Egypt.