News in Egypt often stymies the imagination and there is a fine line between what is said and not said. As my husband so blithely stated yesterday as we were walking through Tehrir Square, “Journalism in Egypt is very free! They’re just not allowed to talk about the President, his family, or the government.”
In a country where political bloggers are routinely arrested for little reason, publishers kidnapped, and an editor on trial for printing a story about the President being in the hospital, I’m afraid I’m not quite sure by what standard my husband measures the word “free.” I personally don’t consider Journalism in Egypt to be free, but I do notice that its not exactly the strictly controlled iron curtain method I thought it was before I came.
Back in April when there was a widespread strike against the rising food prices and stagnant wages I usually knew more from reading Egyptian blogs than my husband, who did not read the blogs but relied on TV news reports, about the rioting and police brutality in a city north of Cairo. He didn’t even know it had happened because the news was not allowed to talk about it. And yet I know of a few particular newspapers, the English-language ones of course, that talk about disputes between the people and the government and as far as I know have suffered no ill consequences.
Take these two recent occurrences for example: yesterday the Shoura Council burned to the ground near Tehrir Square. I personally feel sad because the Council was one of the places I always recognized when I drove past, and I always admired the really cool old architecture. My point in bringing it up though is that it was and is all over the news.
And yet last week something just as news-worthy, in my humble opinion, happened and not a word about it anywhere. A section of the Metro (the subway system in Cairo) collapsed through both floors (there were two underground tracks built one underneath the other) and it took out a large portion of the road not far from the Ministry of (in)Justice. Nothing on the news. To me this seems just as important as the Shoura Council burning down, but why has it been kept secret? The only reason I know about it is because when my husband and I were going to the Mo(in)J we noticed that a main road we would have taken was blocked off and when he asked the taxi driver, he was told about the Metro.
Did anyone die in the collapse? No idea. But knowing how full the metro usually is, I can only imagine that unless it happened after 1am when the trains stop, or it happened somewhere in between two stations and no train was passing through, then there had to be at least a few people involved. But theres no way to know as certainly the taxi driver wouldn’t have had the information, or correct information, and nothing was said on the news. It kind of freaks me out because I dislike tunnels anyways, and knowing that at any moment any section of the Metro could come down…. oy. Maybe thats why it wasn’t broadcast.
Journalism here is free, as long as you don’t talk about….
And just because we’re on the topic of news, how many have heard about the Egyptian septuplets born last week? I just want to say a few things:
1.) If the father only makes $4 a day, how in the HELL did they get money for Invitro? I don’t believe they’re poor because only the richest in Egypt have access to that kind of medical treatment.
2.) Why were they trying for more if they really were that poor? And with Invitro? When, supposedly, they’re fellahin from a small village without doctors?
3.) How many of you want to bet that idiots from Western countries like the UK are going to start sending money to these morons to help them out? Buy them a flat nearer to the doctors they obviously could get to easily enough to have Invitro visits?
4.) Again, if they’re from a village in Beheira (like the most fellahin of all the fellahin provinces) how did they have access to Invitro??????
Its crap! They’re not fellahin! They’re from the cities! They gots money! They just want more! Don’t fall for it!
Ugh. Seriously the stuff people pull here.