Middle East & North Africa


[Graph Methodology]

**Please note that the methodology used to determine country scores for Reporters Without Borders’s Press Freedom Index experienced a number of slight changes from 2002 to 2012. The 2013 publication includes an updated scale of 0-100. Irregularities on the graphs may appear due to these changes.

IREX Score: 2.02 [IREX Methodology]
{Higher is Better, Score Ranges from 0 to 4.00}  

IREX Description:

Egypt experienced many events in 2009 that affected the freedom of expression and freedom of the media. The political situation in Egypt, along with the Israeli military action in Gaza, heavily shaped the experience of journalists, bloggers, and media specialists.

Although serious attacks on journalists were rare, court cases against journalists and cases related to violations of publishing bans drew concern from the media and the public. Several bloggers received particular  attention from the state security and judiciary and were detained or handed jail sentences; some claimed to have been beaten by police. Regarding the legal framework, journalists point to the lack of an access-to-information law as a persistent roadblock to progress.

Read more on IREX’s site…

Freedom House Score: 62 (Not Free) [Freedom House Methodology]
{Lower is Better, Score Ranges from 0 to 100}  

Freedom House Description:

Status change explanation: Egypt declined from Partly Free to Not Free due to officially tolerated campaigns to intimidate journalists, increased efforts to prosecute reporters and commentators for insulting the political leadership or defaming religion, and intensified polarization of the pro– and anti–Muslim Brotherhood press, which reduced the availability of balanced coverage.

Throughout 2012, the Egyptian press faced myriad challenges as the Egyptian courts, military, political establishment, and Islamist groups engaged in a power struggle over Egypt’s political future. Following the forced resignation of longtime president Hosni Mubarak in February 2011, the country was ruled by a military council, the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF), whose 18-month tenure featured openings in the legal, political, and economic environment for the media. The People’s Assembly, Egypt’s lower house of parliament, was elected in January 2012, with Islamist parties winning nearly 70 percent of the seats, but it was then dissolved by the SCAF in June after various electoral laws were deemed unconstitutional. Mohamed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) won the presidency in a June 16–17 runoff election, taking 51.7 percent of the vote, and executive power was formally transferred from the military to the new civilian leadership. The change led to several negative developments for the media during the latter half of 2012, including increased polarization between pro- and antigovernment outlets, a heightened use of defamation laws against the press, and physical harassment of journalists by nonstate actors with the tacit support of the authorities.

Read More on Freedom House's site...

Freedom on the Net Score: 54 (Partly Free) [Freedom House Methodology]
{Lower is Better, Score Ranges from 0 to 100}  

On January 25, Egyptians took to the streets as part of widespread protests against President Hosni Mubarak, demanding that he step down.

Social media tools such as Facebook and Twitter played a strategic role in mobilizing citizens and disseminating news. The authorities soon responded with intermittent blocks on access to such tools and to the websites of prominent independent newspapers. Then, in an extreme measure, from January 27 to February 2, the government, cut off all internet access and mobile-phone services in the country. A large number of bloggers and online activists were also detained during the protests, including Google executive Wael Ghonim, who disappeared on January 28, and was released from government detention on February 7.

On February 11, Mubarak stepped down, and the government ceded power to the Egyptian Army, while all detained journalists were freed. However, tensions between citizens and the army have since surfaced. On March 28, military police arrested blogger Maikel Nabil Sanad for criticizing the lack of transparency in the armed forces. On April 11, he was sentenced to three years in prison.

Read more on Freedom House's site...

RSF Score: 48.66 [RSF Methodology]
{Lower is Better, Score Ranges from 0 to 100}  

Reporters Without Borders Description:

Since taking power in 1981, Hosni Mubarak has gone all out to curb not just press freedom but also citizens’ rights to freedom of information. The authorities have for several years been tightening control over the Internet, but without excessive use of filtering. Cairo is also, along with Riyadh, the driving force behind the creation of an Office for Arab Satellite Television, riding a current wave of a return to moral order.

Read more on RSF’s site…

Committee to Protect Journalists Description: [What is the Committee to Protect Journalists?]

Key Developments

» Restrictive constitution adopted; journalist killed covering protest rally.

» Government appoints heads of state media, exerting control over coverage.

A new constitution with restrictive press provisions was approved in late year amid heavy opposition criticism and reports of ballot fraud. CPJ and others criticized articles creating a new government press regulator and establishing new state authority to shut media outlets. The new charter also did nothing to halt the criminal prosecution of journalists, a hallmark of the Hosni Mubarak regime. A reporter covering a rally protesting the new constitution was killed in December when he was struck by a rubber bullet that witnesses said was fired by a Muslim Brotherhood supporter. Several other journalists said they were assaulted while covering similar demonstrations. Other serious violations were reported throughout the year, including a sexual assault and a number of other physical attacks against journalists. Before the election of President Mohamed Morsi in June, the interim-ruling Supreme Council for the Armed Forces carried out a series of Mubarak-era tactics intended to stifle media critical of the military. The tactics included the use of politicized trials and interrogations to intimidate reporters, along with the temporary detention of journalists, two of whom were brutalized in custody. The Shura Council, controlled by the Freedom and Justice Party, took a firm grasp of state media in August, appointing political allies as heads of the institutions. Several journalists working for state newspapers reported that critical articles were being pulled. Although Morsi banned pre-trial detention of journalists, the press remained at legal risk. At least six journalists faced charges of "insulting the president" or "insulting Islam." By late 2012, the prosecutor general was pursuing a series of investigations into independent Egyptian newspapers on accusations of insulting the president or reporting false news.

Read more on CPJ’s site...

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IFEX News: [What is IFEX?]

Visit IFEX’s Site for Recent News on Media in this Country