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Egyptian Military Government Looking Mubarak-esque

September 29, 2011

The provisional military government in Egypt, the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF), is showing signs of reverting to Mubarak-style tactics.  News reports are surfacing that media outlets, reporters, and bloggers, are being censored or restricted from reporting news.  Licenses for new private satellite outlets have been frozen.

The decision to ban reporting on the Mubarak trial was prompted by the appearance of Field Marshal Mohamed Tantawy, the head of the SCAF, in court on Saturday to testify. Unlike earlier sessions of the widely followed trial, the military junta ordered a complete blackout on information pertaining to the hearing.

Following the ousting of Mubarak in February after days of protests, Tantawy publicly acknowledged that Mubarak had ordered the military to fire on protesters, which ultimately led to the deaths of about 900 Egyptians and injuries to thousands more.  But on Sunday, no newspaper was allowed to report on what Tantawy now told the court.

[…]

Initially hailed for their role in ousting Mubarak, anger with the SCAF has been growing for months, with rights activists accusing them of limiting newly won freedoms and putting civilians in front of military trials. Activists say more than 12,000 people have been tried in military courts in Egypt since Mubarak’s fall: all civilians, including hundreds of bloggers and activists.

The SCAF has recently reactivated the infamous emergency law to fight what it terms security chaos. The law was enforced for 29 years during the Mubarak era and was a tool for the government to fight “terrorism and drugs.” But critics say that in reality, the measure was used to oppress freedom of speech and to silence opposition.

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