| by Nilantha Ilangamuwa
( June 5, 2014, Colombo, Sri Lanka Guardian) Journalism is not a crime in a country where democracy is functioning in its true meaning. But unfortunately there are few places on this planet where people enjoy the privilege to enjoy the freedom of expression. As a result of this, journalists suffer tremendous stress and live in chaotic situations because they practice of the responsibilities of their profession.
In Egypt over a hundred and fifty days have passed. The darkness of the society is prevailing even in the country’s court rooms where innocents are being prosecuting because they engaged in their profession.
In Egypt the authorities are trying their best to reason out their arbitrariness in arresting and detaining four journalists of Al Jazeera while falsely accusing them for given aid to the Muslim Brotherhood, a banned organisation. But a spokesman of Al Jazeera has categorically denied the accusation and clearly states, “The Egyptian authorities did not have a 'shred of evidence'”. However, the authorities are confident of their impunity as it continues to detain the journalists who have now appeared in court for ninth time on 23 May.
Peter Greste, Mohamed Fahmy and Baher Mohamed, the detainees have appeared in court from time to time. But the procedure is different when it comes to Abdullah Elshamy, who has been held separately without charge since August 14 last year. In fact, he has been on a hunger strike since January and accuses the authority of force feeding him.
Egypt is an attractive country because of the wonder of the ancient creations which have archeological value which entices tourists and scholars from around the world. However, it has drawn the attention of the international community because of the recent mass wave that arose through the sky of political reform in the name of Arab Spring. The people came to the street to fight for freedom and justice. Hundreds of unarmed civilians sacrificed themselves for the next generation of the country. Their remains were buried underneath the need for social change.
However, their souls seek justice from those who are playing the role of governance.
The people of Egypt, were able to boot out the neo-feudal system of the Mubarak clan and look for a new dawn in which human skills can play a genuine respectable role to protect the dignity of all citizen. But the dreams were shattered and replaced with another form of evilness to undermine the freedom of people. Within just a few weeks the country realized that the root causes of the problems which deteriorated the system were far bigger than Mubarak.
Apparently, Mubarak was not the disease but merely a symptom. Once the country was able to vanquish a symptom of the disease, then the disease mutated and looked for a way to spread itself about. Then the country sunk into a new form of chaos in which the newly installed government took advantage to crack down on dissidents, political reformists, and journalists despite investing in political reforms.
The real picture of the arbitrary arrests and detention of journalists from Al Jazeera has given a clear cut picture of the bitterness of what prevails in the post-Mubarak period in the country. This very fact has given us an opportunity to understand a society in which political ideological hijackers have robbed the country of an opportunity of a system change after the ousting of a tyrant.
This tendency is a common phenomenon in many countries, the Philippines after Marcos and post- Suharto in Indonesia are perhaps good examples in recent history. The situation is truly terrifying. Apparently it has created political dilemmas and pushed the entire society into the riddle of socio-political complicity. No one can deny the ancient Egyptian saying that goes, “We invited the bald man to keep us company; he uncovered his baldness and scared us.”
It is time for people of Egypt to raise their hands against the regime and support those journalists who have been denied the right to exercise, not only the basic outline of their profession, but also the universal rights of humanity. In this hour of celebrating a new winner of the recent election, the country may have the chance to enjoy what Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, who claimed the handsome victory, promised. That was the restoration of stability and the economy after three years of turmoil. Let’s see how he is going to treat our colleagues who are behind bar on false charges and the other who is on a hunger strike against unjustness of the regime.