The first freely elected president of Egypt Mohamed Morsi appears to be cracking down on critics in the media. Two Egyptian journalists are to be charged and the newspaper al-Dostour has been charged with fueling sedition.
President Morsi has moved against two journalists who have spoken out in opposition to him and the Muslim Brotherhood. One journalist is Islam Afifi who edits the daily al-Dostour newspaper. The August 11 issue was confiscated by authorities. Afifi was charged with insulting Mursi and inciting people to overthrow the Egyptian government.
The second journalist is Tawfiq Okasha who owns and is also host of a television channel Al-Faraeen. He is also charged with insulting Morsi but also inciting people to kill him. Okasha once said on one of his talkshows that Mr. Morsi "deserved to be killed". The state prosecutor ordered the channel be shut down.
The moves by Morsi worry some observers who thought that there would be press freedom with the removal of Mubarak. Although Morsi resigned from the Muslim Brotherhood when he was elected president so that he could represent all Egyptians he has appointed another colleague from the Brotherhood to be information minister.
Activist Gamal Eid said to Reuters:"The Brotherhood's recent actions against the media are harsh and unacceptable and tell us that we are going backwards and that things are managed the same way they were during Mubarak's time."
The U.S is concerned about the press crackdown as well. Spokesperson for the U.S. State Department Victoria Nuland said that she was concerned by reports that Egypt was moving to restrict media freedom. The U.S. provides financial aid to Egypt of about $1.55 billion a year.
The Brotherhood maintains that it is not censoring opinion but preventing media reports that might incite violence or unrest or which insult Morsi. Many agree that some media have been irresponsible and insulting. However, there are other ways of dealing with the issue than charging journalists and sentencing them to jail terms.
A new committee of editors who supervise state-run newspapers has removed columns by columnists who have written anti-Brotherhood columns. The military has apparently expressed no disagreement with Morsi's media policies.