There is still a steady decline in the situation of freedom of expression in Egypt, where various state institutions are involved in restricting freedom of expression and prosecuting individuals who express their views either through the Internet or as part of their work as journalists, photographers, writers and creative artists. Egyptian authorities also continue to block websites, a policy that began on 24 May and has continued to expand to date.
The monitoring of violations during the third quarter of 2017 shows the extent to which the Egyptian authorities have expanded the blocking of websites, in addition to the various decisions by the higher Council for Media Regulation, whose role in censorship of media and creative work is increasing. The fierce attack on young men and women who raised the rainbow flag during a concert in Cairo may be the most prominent feature of these practices. The Higher Council for Media Regulation was strongly present through its decision to prevent the hosting of homosexuals on media channels, while security institutions sought to prosecute and arrest those young men and women, and judicial authorities investigated them. This behavior by State institutions of violation of freedom of expression is a reflection of various practices of censorship, tracing and prosecution. As this report shows, for example, various government institutions have prevented journalists from coverage, while security authorities prosecute social media users. The report also reveals that security authorities arrested users of social media, as well as assaulted and prosecuted journalists and photographers.
The report reviews these practices in detail. The first section deals with some issues that are most important in understanding the state of freedom of expression during the third quarter of 2017, including the issue of the rainbow flag and the persecution of solidarity with gay rights, as well as developments of the exchange of information law. The second section presents statistics on violations of freedom of expression as regards digital rights, blocking websites, freedom of the press and media, preventing press coverage, freedom of creativity, and student rights and freedoms. In the third section, the report attempts to analyze patterns of violations by focusing on the most prominent observations that can be inferred from the performance of state institutions. Finally, the report reviews a number of necessary recommendations addressed to the concerned state authorities.
AFTE hopes that the Egyptian authorities will review their actions against the right to freedom of expression and to stop the security practices and prosecutions that restrict the freedom of expression in a systematic manner to intimidate citizens and spread fear of public policy debate. For this purpose, the report contains a set of recommendations, which were formulated based on an analysis of the state of freedom of expression in the third quarter of 2017.