Why Are Journalists Being Imprisoned in Egypt?
Abdullah Elshamy, an Al Jazeera correspondent, has now been in prison for 175 days and on hunger strike for a little over two weeks.
"I’ve lost a number of pounds. I only rely on liquids. The littlest effort makes me feel dizzy,"he wrote in a letter smuggled out of his prison cell, where he isn’t allowed access to pens or paper. “But it’s what I feel compelled to do in order to raise awareness about the importance of freedom of speech.”
Abdullah—who was arrested during August last year when armed police violently cleared a sit-in by supporters of former president Mohamed Morsi—is one of four Al Jazeera journalists in jail, all held on vague charges while prosecutors prepare formal proceedings. They are among the dozens of reporters in Egypt who have been beaten up or detained over the past six months. Nine more have been killed since the start of the uprising in 2011.
These arrests and many of the deaths are symptomatic of what the country has turned into since the army ousted the Muslim Brotherhood–affiliated Morsi last summer. Egypt’s interim government is doing everything in its power to silence Brotherhood sympathizers, crushing the country’s revolutionary street movements by issuing a law that effectively bans any form of public protest.