From the Editors
[The following video is part of a series of clips produced by the Mosireen collective to promote greater awareness around the draft constitution currently under consideration in national referendum in Egypt. The full series can be accessed by clicking here.]
This clip comes in response to a government sponsored television advert claiming that freedom of expression is protected in the draft constitution currently under consideration in a national referendum. The original advert is one of a series of government-sponsored television campaign promoting the draft constitution and known as “know your constitution” (e‘raf destourak) .
In the midst of a demonstration at the Journalists Syndicate, Hani Shukrallah (Editor of Ahram Online), Alaa Al-Attar (member of the board of the Journalists Syndicate) and Khalid Yousef (Assistant Editor in Chief of Al-Shaeb Newspaper) argue that the draft constitution represents a significant step backward for freedom of expression in Egypt. Unlike any previous Egyptian constitution, the draft constitution contains a clause that would allow the government to shutdown a whole publication for wrongdoing committed by an individual journalist. The draft constitution, they indicate, has failed to reflect their most basic demand, namely an end to the practice of imprisoning journalists in legal cases involving media outlets. They argue that the draft constitution, if passed, will create an environment in which journalists can be intimidated by those in power, thus restricting their ability to deliver accurate information to the public and the free exchange of opinions and debate. Not only would these clauses apply to journalists, but also to writers across the media industry. Under the draft constitution, if someone were to publish a song satirizing the president, he could face charges and imprisonment.
Khalid Yousef argues that he is not against the draft constitution because of its association with the Muslim Brotherhood, but because it will put the tools of oppression into the hands of any future government, whatever its political persuasion. He argues that even if the draft constitution passes, it is unlikely that it would stand for very long, recalling how the street punished deposed President Hosni Mubarak when he tried to engineer the constitution to pave the way for his son to succeed him.
For more details, please watch the video below (click “CC” for English subtitles).
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