In the framework of ECPPS' Program "Individual Freedom" and the center's work on the issue of freedom of press and media, the Egyptian Center for Public Policy Studies “ECPPS” held a public meeting entitled “Which is more capable to fight extremism and terrorism, directed or free media?” on Wednesday, 23 August 2017, at the headquarter of the center in Bab El-Louq. The issues discussed during the meeting were; the importance of free media in democratic societies, the capability of free media to fight terrorism which is rooted from dictatorship regimes, and presenting successful experiences in fighting terrorism depending on freedom, speakers were Ahmed Abo El-Magd; researcher at the Egyptian Center for Public Policy Studies, Khaled El-Balshy; chief editor of “El-Bedaya” newspaper and Medhat EL-Zahed; the journalist, the member in journalism syndicate and the acting president in Socialist People Coalition party.
Abo EL-Magd commenced the meeting with brief introduction about ECCPS and the ‘’Individual Rights’’ program, Also he present the monthly report of monitoring the freedom in media ( July 2017 ) which is published by the center. Abo El-Magd shed the light on the critics to the media that they are responsible for terrorism and the releases from the regime that claim the media to empower the state, then he pointed out to the blocking of some news websites without knowing the reason or knowing who declared this decision.
Abo El-Magd mentioned that the terrorist actions started in Egypt when there was only state media speaking in favor of the regime, he finished his talk by saying that the Egyptian society should get rid of the binary choices either to support the regime or support terrorism.
El-Zahed said that we should differentiate between the freedom of media and the ownership of media institutions, and he pointed out that all the media channels either owned by the state or private sector are suffering from the authority of the security regime. He continued his talk the fighting terrorism law enforce the media to obtain information from the official sources only, which contradicts with the basic concept in media of depending on multiple resources. He pointed out that fighting terrorism should be extended to use intellectual and economic tools beside the security role. He finished his talk the journalism syndicate should represent a peaceful platform for the journalist to express their opinions instead of supporting the regime in arresting journalists.
El-Balshy continued the meeting by mentioning the unspoken question “Who made the terrorism?” saying the terrorist thoughts didn’t appear in our society while there is free media which made the responsibility of media on the terrorism actions is silly issue. He then explained that the free media always point out to the drawbacks of the society to solve it which needed to fight terrorism.
He continued that when the space is opened for the media to discuss the society problems it enhances the process of peaceful change and limit of terrorism actions. He gave an example about what happened in Upper Egypt in “El-Forn” village few days ago, when the security forces allowed preventing of Christians from praying, he described such event that it helps the terrorism and that all successful experiences in fighting terrorism did not depend only on the role of security.
He finished the media laws from the nineties which limit the freedom of media should be filtered and replaced instead of adding new law make more limitations on the journalists.
The proposed recommendations in the public meeting:
-The institutions which is responsible for journalism in Egypt should help in opening a space for freedom instead of preventing the journalists from expressing their opinions
-Fighting terrorism should be intellectuals and economical not limited to the security role in fighting terrorism solely
-The journalists syndicate should be a platform for them not a tool for the regime
-Open the discussion in the society about fighting terrorism instead of depending only on the regime tools