Monday, December 26, 2016

New Media Law curbs Egyptian press even further

 Three and a half years into power after the toppling of President Mohammed Morsi and taking charge of the country, Sisi’s Egypt is witnessing the harshest crackdown in the 200-year history of Egyptian media. Repression, destruction of equipment, imprisonment and even death surround the profession.
Last week, the parliament passed a law on the “Institutional Regulation of the Press and the Media,” which indicates creating three regulatory bodies to oversee all of Egypt’s media outlets. Sisi himself is to select the heads of these boards, according to Article 32.
One body is to supervise state-owned press organizations and select their board chairmen and editors, another would oversee state-owned audio-visual media, radio and digital media institutions, and last and most crucial, the Higher Council for Media Regulation will regulate all media outlets, audio-visual, digital or print — whether public or private — in coordination with the other two bodies.
The law ignores Article 72 of the Egyptian Constitution that indicates “the State shall ensure the independence of all state-owned press institutions and media outlets, in a manner ensuring their neutrality and presentation of all political and intellectual opinions,” Yehia Kallash, the head of the Egyptian press syndicate, told Al-Monitor.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Syrian army has retaken complete control of Aleppo

By Ellen Francis | BEIRUT
The Syrian army said it had retaken complete control of Aleppo on Thursday after the last rebel fighters were evacuated from the city, handing President Bashar al-Assad his biggest victory of the war. The military said it had brought "the return of safety and security to the city of Aleppo", ending four years of rebel resistance in the northern Syrian city.
"This victory constitutes an important turning point," an army statement said. The recapture of Aleppo is Assad's most important gain so far in a nearly six-year-old war that claimed the lives of 300.000 people, but the fighting is not over with large parts of the country still controlled by insurgent and Islamist groups.
The last group of rebels and their families holed up in a small eastern enclave of Aleppo were evacuated under a deal that gives the army and its allies full control of the city, Syrian state television said.

Monday, December 19, 2016

After a new president Lebanon now also got a new government

Saad Hariri, the new Prime Minister, with president Michel Aoun (right).  (Foto Al Jazeera)

Lebanon on Sunday acquired a new 30-minister government led by Saad al-Hariri, bringing together the entire political spectrum except for the Christian Phalangist party that rejected the portfolio it was offered.
The new cabinet, which was announced on state television, will keep Gebran Bassil as foreign minister, Ali Hassan Khalil as finance minister and Nouhad Machnouk as interior minister.
New portfolios include an anti-corruption post and, for the first time, a minister of state for women's affairs. Hariri said the Phalangist Party had been offered a minister of state post but had turned it down.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Turkey, China and Egypt have the most journalists in jail

According to the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) 2016 has seen a record number of journalists jailed worldwide, marking the worst year on record with an unprecedented 259 behind bars. Egypt is listed as the third worst offender with 25 journalists in jail, preceded by China with 38 and Turkey with 81.
In its latest report, published on Tuesday, the New York-based group writes that: “More journalists are jailed around the world than at any time since the CPJ began keeping detailed records in 1990, with Turkey accounting for nearly a third of the global total.”
The five countries at the top of the list account for 68 percent of all journalists imprisoned worldwide since December 1, 2016. This includes Ethiopia, and Eritrea.
This year’s statistics are a significant increase from the 199 journalists who were behind bars in 2015, and surpass the previous record of 232 imprisoned in 2012.
Turkey’s high ranking this year is a result of an “ongoing crackdown that accelerated after a failed coup attempt in July,” according to the report. The government has increasingly imprisoned journalists seen as sympathetic to exiled opposition cleric Fethullah Gülen or the attempted coup.
Eight of Egypt’s 25 jailed journalists have been locked up for more than three years, since the ouster of Islamist president Mohamed Morsi on July 3, 2013. The remaining 17 have been imprisoned for periods ranging from several weeks to years. This is an increase from the 23 imprisoned in 2015, when Egypt was ranked the second worst jailer of journalists after China.
Some are linked to Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated newspapers like Rassd, while several others are TV correspondents, freelance reporters and photojournalists. Most are being detained in Cairo’s Tora Prison, although some are being held in Alexandria, Port Said, Arish, Fayoum and Gamasa, among others.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Bombs kill 38 people in Istanbul, most of them policemen

 (Foto AFP)
Turkey said on Sunday that Kurdish militants may be responsible for the two bombs that killed 38 people and wounded 155 in what looked to be a coordinated attack on police outside a soccer stadium in Istanbul after a match between two top teams.
The blasts on Saturday night - a car bomb outside the Vodafone Arena, home to Istanbul's Besiktas soccer team, followed by a suicide bomb attack in an adjacent park less than a minute later - shook a nation still trying to recover from a series of deadly bombings this year in cities including Istanbul and the capital Ankara.
There was no claim of responsibility, but Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmus said early indications pointed to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), which has carried out a three-decade insurgency, mainly in Turkey's largely Kurdish southeast. Ten people have been detained so far, he said.