Comments: 423 • Responses: 37  • Date: 

JTC80433 karma

Given the limited press freedom in your country, could you potentially find yourself in some sort of trouble for doing this AMA?

EgyJournalist678 karma

Very much :)
Decision makers in the country are very concerned when people talk to foreign outlets or press, about the condition of the country.

EgyJournalist334 karma

I am Adham Youssef, a Senior Journalist at Daily News Egypt. I  also work as a reporter, critic, and translator for other publications. The reason why i work for more than one place has to do with the status of the press in Egypt, where if you want to make a living you have to work more than one job.

I mainly cover local politics in the country, military conflict and insurgency, state sponsored violence, and minority and labour rights. Currently in Egypt the state is cooking or already cooked several laws that will regulate the media and the press in the next years, laws that many describe as a step to nationalise journalism in the country. 

This AMA is part of r/IAmA’s “Spotlight on Journalism” project which aims to shine a light on the state of journalism and press freedom in 2018. Join us for a new AMA every day in October.

cahaseler313 karma

Hi Adham,

Thanks for joining us today!

How is press freedom in Egypt? Is it better or worse than 10 years ago?

Are things getting better?

EgyJournalist584 karma

Hi,
Thank you for the invitation and giving me a platform to express some of my thoughts.

Currently, the status of press freedom in Egypt is in a critical condition. Currently, there are ongoing and strong attempts to nationalise press in the country, hence taking the official/governmental narrative as "the truth". And as a result independent press, print and digital, as several of the main media outlets are starting to be taken over by the government or its different bodies.

Personally i started working in journalism in 2012, a year where the criticality and creativity of journalism reached a peak. Journalists had some freedom to report, access sources, and report negative aspects. Currently, if you question a statement that is released by the press office of some ministry, you can be accused of being a "traitor".

kingshmiley166 karma

What is the one story you would find most important to share with those outside of Egypt?

EgyJournalist375 karma

There are a lot of stories that i would really want the outside people to know. One of them is current status of the lower classes in Egypt, who are the ones who are really suffering from the neo-liberal polices the government is currently applying in the country, in order to bring in foreign investment. Such policies are increasing prices, while wages and salaries are the same. The state is attempting to build luxurious resorts and desert cities while public education, health, and housing are suffering.

Such contradiction bring up many stories.

Waking7 karma

Can you explain more specifically or at least give an example with evidence on what policies are "neoliberal" and how they are hurting the poor? In general liberal policy would encourage freedom of the press.

EgyJournalist94 karma

"neoliberal" as in allowing the privatization of hundreds of factories and companies, cutting subsidies, privatizing education, health care, transportation, taking the side of corporations, building beaches and shopping malls when poverty and illiteracy is high, and building luxurious hotels while millions are suffering from kidney failure.

Summary of the above: Capitalism

gaunt797 karma

Pardon my ignorance - that definition is about the exact opposite of the one used in the US for 'liberal' policy.

EgyJournalist14 karma

No worries at all

EgyJournalist54 karma

Maybe i have a bit of a pessimistic view of the conditions of life, and this might affect what i want to see written and shown to the outside world. However, amid the alleged misery there can be stories of hope. I think portraying how life is possible amid a misery is in itself an act of resistance.

Duke_Paul76 karma

Hi Adham,

Thanks for doing an AMA with us! Do you think the upcoming media/press laws are going to make it more difficult to find employment as a journalist, or just harder to be a journalist? Also, does journalism in Egypt tend to focus more on the Middle East or Africa? Or is that the wrong distinction to make?

Thanks again!

EgyJournalist100 karma

The new law, in my point of view, in a general sense aims to control the institution, and to regulate their content. If you have control the media institutions financially and managerially, then you can easily control them editorially.

The new law are not yet applied. Hence the physical result on how press and media work is yet undone.

Journalism in Egypt cover a lot of stories and angles in the Middle East. However, reporting about the Middle East and its conflicts are in many cases influenced by the state see such conflicts. For example, due to the high influence of the Gulf countries in some channels and newspapers, you can see a lot of reporting about how "liberating" the Yemen War is.

SamanKunans0257 karma

Was an influx of amateur journalists in the region during the Arab Spring which has now saturated the market?

EgyJournalist81 karma

Indeed, dozens of journalists came to Egypt, and the Arab world, starting 2011. It was a very rich market for stories and content. However, from my own point of view, great attention is given to Libya, Syria, Iraq, and maybe the Gulf. We can argue that throughout the last years, the Egyptian file, and interest in covering Egypt, has somewhat declined. However, for sure this argument can be contested. My reasons for this is that the same patterns of political and social life are more or less returning to the pre-2011 scene, which includes state sponsored violence, price hikes, and inclusion of officials in businesses.

For example, if i as a freelance journalist pitch a story that a detainee died in a police station and there are minor protests in a city, most probably they would decline it as it is no longer news.

DeadlyDancingDuck46 karma

How bad are the human rights violations now? We've seen a lot of homophobia in the press, is this from the people or something pushed by the government?

EgyJournalist95 karma

I will self-censor myself when answering the part about human rights violations, so as to avoid be subjected to a violation myself :) Sorry about that.

Concerning homophobia in the press, this is an ongoing trend and that is, sadly, supported by the government. Last year, an official media regulation body banned any media outlets from sympathizing or showing support to members of the LGBT community in Egypt. Moreover, Egypt has also, sadly, a very popular 'crime journalism' industry which reports crimes. Unfortunately, reporters who work in such institutions consider having a different sexual orientation a crime, and often connect it to "western manners", "moral corruption", "mental disease", "lack of parenting".

In Daily News Egypt, we have reported the arrests of LGBT members, and reported the violations they suffered from.

Stalinspetrock30 karma

What do people think about Abdel-Nasser? Is there a big generational divide in the way he's perceived? Finally, how is he viewed among Egyptian leftists (such as they are)? If you have the time after all this, talking about the Egyptian left in general would be appreciated.

Thanks in advance.

EgyJournalist52 karma

Historically, Abdel-Nasser is one of most prominent leaders, politicians, and theorists who ruled Egypt. Whether you differ with his policies or not, he and the ideas that he represents are an important actor to Egypt's historical continuity, having ended the monarchy and eventually ended colonialism in Egypt.

Despite being a popular figure for many Egyptians, who is blindly loved for some, i think he is responsible for the military-influenced society that we are living in today. Again he is an important actor in the development of Egyptian history, but he was an authoritarian leader, who gave way for what is known now as the "Arab Left". Nevertheless, Abdel Nasser persecuted and neutralized the the communist movements in the 1950s and the 1960s.

As a Leftist, Abdel Nasser should be regarded as a project which had plausible goals, but which ended up in utter failure, due to the pressure of the west and the presence of Israel, and due to the corruption that of his regime. Many leftists who where imprisoned in his prisons, wrote that they cried when he died.

I think that there is currently no concrete leftist movement in Egypt. Communism and Socialism are not banned in Cairo, but if you plan to protest or strike you can be arrested, and the government can accuse be of "being a terrorist."

A, very, simple map of the left in Egypt:

-The independents: individuals who are known for supporting the very causes all Communists will agree on. They can be in syndicates, newspapers, or research centers.

-The Trotskists: they are under the umbrella of the Evolutionary Socialists, which is a group that by time has decreased its activities due to security crackdowns. Marxist-Leninists criticize them of standing in the same cause of the Islamists.

- The Stalinists: They are in three parties, mostly of older people, who are hyper nationalists, who still China is a communist country.

I hope this answer parts of your questions

itsacalamity27 karma

What can American (or other foreign) journalists do to support you and your independent freedom of press?

EgyJournalist82 karma

It seems like an easy question, but in fact is is a tricky question, as i am not in a place to give advice, or i don't prefer to be in that place.

As an American, be very critical about the official statements from the country's ruling bodies. And always where your tax money is being spend, when they are in a form of aid.

As a journalist, if you come to Egypt, try to overcome the orientalist and already consumed stories, entrepreneurship, football, tourism, and entertainment. Also stop assuming that "American readers" are stupid, and need the least of information. Your stories should not be "colorful" as your editors would ask, but they should be informative and critical.

bushbabysuckers25 karma

Is there a rise in Islamic Patriotism in Egypt? How are the relations with the Coptic Christians?

EgyJournalist29 karma

I think the rise of Islamism and its aggression against Copts has started when the state in the 1970s started to "act more religious." Since then, the ideas of Islamisim has been spread into different sects of the society.

almost_not_terrible6 karma

How barbaric. What can be done to prevent this?

EgyJournalist32 karma

Education, awareness, rule of law, and questioning the privilege of being a Sunni Muslim, middle class, male.

decapitating_punch23 karma

Have you seen firsthand the drawing-away from the US and moving closer to Russian ties since the ousting of Morsi and el-Sisi taking over?

EgyJournalist30 karma

I don't think so. Egypt is aiming and already has close ties with both countries, and receive huge amounts of weapons and arms from both countries.

kugkfokj19 karma

What do you think of what happened to Giulio Regeni?

EgyJournalist60 karma

I will refrain from answering this, for safety concerns. Sorry :)

Maybe that answers your question?

VoiceOfTheSoil4018 karma

Do you think that another revolution is on the horizon due to the declining standard of living among the lower classes?

EgyJournalist37 karma

I do not think so. A revolution as in a million-man march chanting "down with the regime" is not likely to happen. The argument whether the increased poverty will lead to dissent is controversial, but any mobalisation that is fueled just by economic conditions will be countered brutally in my opinion.

bystander_2516 karma

Is the Sinai still a mess in 2018?

EgyJournalist46 karma

Thanks for the question.

No journalists are allowed to report there. So my account might be not very trusted.

But if i tell what is going on, depending on media reports and official statements: on a weekly bases security personnel die in IED or sniper attacks, several roads are blocked, there are fuel, and sometimes water and electricity crisis. And on a bi-weekly bases, the military announces that they have killed a big number of militants. Sometimes the official statements mention 30 or 40 militants killed.

And these statements have been released since 2013.

So i leave it to you to decide :)

oodelay15 karma

Hello Mr. Youssef, thank you for your time and reports. Is there a lot of persecution for atheists and non-Muslim people? Also, how is the people's hopes for a democratic society? Are the young people hopeful or resigned?

EgyJournalist32 karma

I would not say that persecution for atheists and non-Muslim is organised, as there is no campaign to hunt down non-Muslims. But discrimination and prejudice exist and in some cases are overlooked by the government.

A democratic society is a vague term in my opinion. Egypt has elections and a parliament. But there are other issues that can constitute better a democratic society, such minimum wages, gender equality, countering poverty, proper health care and education, welfare programmes, and finally a free press.

There is a tendency among younger people to leave the country, at least in my personal circle. However, i can not speak on behalf of millions of people.

anonymous5432109 karma

Are other forms of Egyptian mass media (TV, film, music) also regulated by the government?

EgyJournalist15 karma

Yes, the state, and its different institutions, own and regulate production companies, whole TV stations, radio stations, PR and marketing agencies, travel agencies, and newspapers.

TheRazorX9 karma

Adham, I appreciate what you're trying to do, but I doubt you'll be able to answer serious questions (like if I ask about Amal Fathy) without putting yourself at great risk, so what are you hoping to get out of this Ama?

Also "Menawar reddit ya basha".

EgyJournalist11 karma

Shokran ea Ostaz.

Thank you for understanding. As i said in different threads, i am not an activist or a revolutionary. I am journalist. I want, hope or aspire, to increase assist critical knowledge about Egypt and its affairs. Maybe?

Kapitalist_Pigdog8 karma

Have you been able to browse the AMA's of other journalists? Which did you like the most? The least? Favorite questions that you've seen?

EgyJournalist11 karma

Sadly, and to my shame, i have not. I will make sure to check them out.

Christmas6217 karma

What do you think is the greatest accomplishment towards freedom in Egypt in recent history??

EgyJournalist27 karma

When people took to the streets in 2011 and chanted for freedom, and physically challenged a police state.

LostOcs7 karma

Do you find that in places such as Sharm El Sheikh people have more freedom in comparison to the rest of the country?

Have you noticed any difference on the people since they started getting access to (some part) of the media, such as demanding more rights and criticizing the current situation they are living in?

EgyJournalist13 karma

Indeed, Sharm El Sheikh, due to the fact that a big portion of its residents work in tourism and foreign tourists, hence you might find local Egyptians more accepting of the usage of alcohol or swim suits. Exactly if you compare Cannes in France with any other city in the French country side.

skywalker307 karma

Are people openly dissenting the government of Social Media?

EgyJournalist12 karma

Dissenting is a vague word. But there are opposition to state policies on social media, whether it is memes, posts, videos,and conversations. But the country is aiming those memes :)

https://af.reuters.com/article/egyptNews/idAFL4N1UD3CO

Jindiana237 karma

How nervous are you for your safety?

EgyJournalist24 karma

I am nervous. But there is no catalog that you can follow in order not to be in danger.

EgyJournalist53 karma

I will quote a very famous Egyptian novelist: “Fear doesn't prevent death. It prevents life.”

ibrahimhossam6 karma

How does the company balance journalistic integrity and keeping your reporters safe ?

EgyJournalist14 karma

I will address the question as an individual. Personally, i report stories where i write what i think is important. If there is a story that might endanger my safety, i choose not to do it, than to report fake or propaganda.

Jamie_XXX6 karma

Hi Adham!

Thank you for this opportunity. I have been wondering for quite some time if there have been any worldwide repercussions from the accusations of "fake news" being made against the mainstream press/media in the United States? If so, could you please explain how it has impacted journalism in Egypt?

Again, thank you so very much for doing this.

EgyJournalist23 karma

Oh yeah. We have have that too. :)

Like i said earlier, there is a trend in media outlets to copy-paste and publish the statements of from different government sector. In different cases, when newspapers improvise [when they do their job] and question such statements or present different narratives to the statements, they can be accused of different things. One of them "publishing fake news", an actual crime in the Criminal Law, which is directed to all imprisoned or detained journalists.

Currently, there are around 500 websites that are blocked in Egypt, for allegedly publishing "false news". Daily News Egypt, the newspaper that i work for is one of these 500 websites.

The 500 websites are blocked in Egypt, hence you can not browse them in Egypt, unless you use VPN.

Sorry if my ideas are not concrete, but the concept of fake news, or the silly accusation of fake news, is also present in Egypt. Except, when Trump accuses The New York Times, the journalists are not detained.

Jamie_XXX10 karma

The journalists are detained? The idea that journalists, real journalists doing their jobs, could be arrested or just taken away is so disturbing to me.

What, if anything, can be done to help from outside of Egypt?

EgyJournalist15 karma

Yes. Some are detained and are standing trailed.
Please check this link, for more information

https://cpj.org/mideast/egypt/

EgyJournalist19 karma

Another point. I am not in position to be an advocate, or to give advice. I believe this is not my role, at least not in public. :)

I tell my foreign friends to read more about Egypt, and to diversify their sources of information, follow people of twitter who talk about Egypt, and follow independent media publications.

colossuskidd3 karma

What is your take on the saudi arabia situation?

EgyJournalist16 karma

I think it is a challenging moment for the kingdom, whether the young confrontational prince can withstand the results of the Yemen war, foreign pressure, and possible economic crisis.

DUNEsummerCARE3 karma

if you were not a journalist, what do you think you would be working as?

EgyJournalist9 karma

A film studies professor and a writer. Or a chef

dinkoplician3 karma

What is Egypt's view on what happened to Kanye West? CNN said "Kanye West is what happens when Negroes don’t read". Does Egyptian media hold similar views about race?

EgyJournalist9 karma

Racism is not a commonly discussed topic in Egypt, neither is gender. This leads to several, but not organised, racist content. It is often seen in advertisements or comedy films, rarely, to my knowledge, in the press.

Although there has been one incident that i remember in a pro-goverment newspaper.
Check these links for more info:

https://twitter.com/mattmcbradley/status/504900053467947008

http://whosthatladyinc.blogspot.com/2014/08/egyptian-newspaper-racist-headlines.html

offenderWILLbeBANNED0 karma

How are you still Alive?

EgyJournalist8 karma

Nature?

CoolByDesign-11 karma

So I heard you’re an egy-journalist, is that true?

EgyJournalist2 karma

What do you mean?