Has freedom of expression in Egypt increased after more than three years since the overthrow of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak?
The answer to this question is especially relevant if we consider that historically Egypt has maintained a reputation as a leader in media production in the region of the Middle East. Hence, developments in Egypt are likely to have significant effects in the broader region.
According to a paper by Rasha Abdulla at Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, “Egypt continues to struggle with an authoritarian media sector and constraints on freedom of expression.“
Three are the main findings in Abdulla’s paper:
- Successive Egyptian regimes following the revolution have taken steps to limit freedom of expression and control the narrative in Egyptian media coverage.
- Hopes for a more professional media sector have been dashed by a state media apparatus that has for all intents and purposes supported whatever regime is in power, private media outlets influenced by wealthy owners with ties to the Mubarak regime, and severe polarization between Islamist and non-Islamist media outlets.
- Social media played a key role in the January 25 revolution, and this platform has provided new avenues for expressing critical views, challenging established media entities, and organizing against the government.
This is yet another telling example of the great difficulties that Arab countries are constantly facing in achieving real change and reform after the 2011 popular uprisings. Hopefully, the old saying “Rome wasn’t built in day” will prove right also for them.