Egypt - Information minister bans distribution of four foreign newspapers



    MONTREAL, Feb. 21 /CNW Telbec/ - Reporters Without Borders condemns the
Egyptian government's decision on 19 February to ban four foreign newspapers
that reprinted some of the cartoons that were published by 17 Danish
newspapers on 13 February in a show of solidarity on the issue of freedom of
expression.
    "Banning the distribution of newspapers that reproduced the Mohammed
cartoons only strengthens those who have taken the most radical positions on
this subject," the press freedom organisation said. "We urge the Egyptian
government to reverse this decision and to let civil society decide for itself
whether the content of these newspapers was defamatory."
    The four newspapers whose issues were banned were Germany's Frankfurter
Allgemeine Zeitung and Die Welt, the London-based Observer and the New
York-based Wall Street Journal. The ban was issued by information minister
Anas Al-Feki, who told the Egyptian news agency MENA: "Any newspaper or
magazine that publishes something offensive towards the Prophet (....) or the
three monotheistic religions will be banned."
    Article 20 of Egypt's press law allows the information minister to ban
reports liable to harm national interest. An issue of the French bimonthly
Historia Thématique about fundamentalism was banned by Egypt, Tunisia and
Turkey in January 2007 on the grounds that it was offensive to religion.
    Meanwhile, an Arab League agreement to restrict the freedom expression of
the region's satellite TV stations - adopted at Egypt's initiative - may have
secured its first victim. Al-Barakah, a station that had been broadcasting
business news for the past seven months, has gone off the air. The reasons are
not yet known.




For further information:

For further information: Katherine Borlongan, secretary general,
Reporters Without Borders, (514) 521-4111, Cell: (514) 258-4208, Fax: (514)
521-7771, rsfcanada@rsf.org

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