Bloggers Stifled Again in Egypt
|Saturday, January 16,2010 07:10|
|By Mary McGuire|
Freedom House condemns the arrest of 19 activists in Egypt -- among them leading bloggers, political party representatives and journalists -- and demands their immediate release without harm.
The group was arrested by government forces while traveling to the southern Egyptian town of Naga Hammadi to express their condolences to the families of those killed last week during sectarian violence which erupted on the eve of the Coptic Christmas celebrations. Twenty Copts were killed or injured when they were attacked by gunmen leaving services on January 6.
“Today’s arrests were a particularly egregious example of what has become a pattern by the Egyptian government of interfering with its citizens’ right to freedom of expression,” said Jennifer Windsor, executive director of Freedom House. “Something is desperately wrong when people are treated like criminals for simply attempting to show sympathy and solidarity with fellow countrymen.”
Seven of the activists are participants in Freedom House’s New Generation network, which includes fellows who have come on U.S. and international exchanges, including three who are scheduled to come to the United States on Freedom House's USAID-funded New Media Activism study tour in late February.
“The Egyptian government failed in addressing sectarian violence because they only use security measures to combat unrest” said Daniel Calingaert, Deputy Director of Programs at Freedom House. “It muzzled active bloggers and civil society who were taking the initiative to play a constructive role in reconciliation” he noted.
Egypt is ranked Not Free in Freedom in the World 2010, Freedom House's survey of political rights and civil liberties, and Not Free in Freedom of the Press 2009.
For more information on Egypt, visit:
Freedom of the Press 2009: Egypt
Freedom in the World 2009: Egypt
Freedom House is an independent watchdog organization that supports democratic change, monitors the status of freedom around the world, and advocates for democracy and human rights.