In an interview with Khaled Al-Balshi, former board member and deputy director of the Egyptian Journalist Syndicate, he stated that the situation of Egyptian media was not significantly altered by the recent unprecedented events related to the Covid-19 pandemic. “What we are now experiencing is a media environment that is fully controlled by the state. Media of a unified voice; any attempt to express an alternative voice gets muffled and fought
aggressively. This was the situation before Covid-19 and still is the case” said Al-Balshi. Since the return of the military regime in 2013, the situation of freedom of expression and media in Egypt is worsening. With more than 60000 prisoners of conscience and more than 32000 domain blocked from the online sphere, Egypt has become one of the most threatening countries to journalists and media professionals.
In 2016, police forces raided the journalist syndicate, arresting Al-Balshi along with the head
of the syndicate and the secretary director. “Since then the regime has succeeded in
establishing control over the syndicate through different techniques” explained Al-Balshi. In
addition to his role as a board member, Al-Balshi was the head of the freedoms committee of
the journalist syndicate and worked for years in peruse of freedom of media. However, in
2017, he was pushed out of the syndicate and was sentenced suspended imprisonment of one year. Now the syndicate is in compliance with the military regime on the expense of the
journalist’s and their freedom and safety.
All Al-Balshi’s attempts to establish an alternative free media platform were hamstrung by
the state. “First, we established Bedaya a news website, it was blocked by the government.
Then we established Kateb, which was the fastest to be blocked… only after 9 hours from its
launch. And Finally, we started Darb, which was also blocked right after”. Although there are
a few independent alternative media outlets in Egypt, these institutions are operating under a
severe crackdown by the government; different attempts of blocking and continuous arrest of
the journalists. Finally, Al-Balshi Expressed that the situation of media Is an integral part of
the general socio-political situation. The control of the military state has nearly obliterated
any attempt of a public sphere. “Political parties ate trapped in their headquarters and cannot
even participate in elections. NGO’s are continuously chased. The political situation has to
change for the media situation to improve.