Silencing dissent in Egypt: Mada Masr journalists on trial for speaking truth to power

The freedom of the press is a vital instrument of democracy, a beacon of light piercing the dark veil of secrecy and exposing the corrupt machinations of power-hungry despots who would seek to keep the truth hidden in the shadows.

The searing summer heat of Cairo’s desert sun is no match for the blistering flames of injustice as three intrepid journalists from Mada Masr, the last independent news outlet in Egypt, face trial for the heinous crimes of “misusing social media” and “offending members of parliament.” Rana Mamdouh, Sara Seif Eddin, and Beesan Kassab could be staring down the barrel of two long years in prison and hefty fines if the court finds them guilty.

This is a story of three intrepid journalists who dared to report on the truth in a country where the freedom of the press is under siege. Rana Mamdouh, Beesan Kassab, and Sara Seif Eddin are the fearless reporters of Mada Masr, the last independent news outlet in Egypt, who have faced harassment, arrest, and persecution for their commitment to the truth. With what seems a keen eye for detail and a deep understanding of the complex economic and political realities of their country, these journalists have exposed corruption, shed light on the abuses of power, and brought vital information to their readers. Their work is a testament to the importance of free speech and the press, and a reminder that the fight for democracy and human rights is far from over.

The trial is yet another volley in the ongoing war on free speech and the press under the tyrannical rule of President Abdel-Fatah al-Sisi. The charges against these fearless truth-tellers are nothing short of ridiculous, accusing them of “spreading false news” and “operating an unlicensed website.” To add insult to injury, the authorities have subjected all four journalists to interrogations about their sources and operations, brazenly trampling on their right to press freedom.

It’s time for the international community to condemn this flagrant assault on press freedom and apply unrelenting pressure on the Sisi regime to respect the sacred right to report the truth without fear of persecution.

The Nation’s Future party, a powerful political faction that dominates both houses of Egypt’s parliament, is little more than a glorified “rubber stamp” for Sisi’s policies. Their campaign to silence dissent and crush independent media has transformed Egypt into a veritable prison for journalists, as ranked by the esteemed Reporters Without Borders.

Despite Mada Masr’s editor in chief, Lina Attalah, taking sole responsibility for the story on Nation’s Future and the three journalists on trial having written only a summary for the outlet’s daily newsletter, the state has repeatedly attacked Mada Masr and Attalah. The authorities have staged a raid on their offices, arrested multiple staff members, and engaged in concerted efforts to block their website.

This trial is a clear and present danger to free speech and press freedom in Egypt. The Sisi regime’s baseless charges are nothing more than a desperate ploy to intimidate and silence journalists who dare to expose the corrupt practices of the ruling party. The media should be free from government control and censorship. It’s time for the international community to condemn this flagrant assault on press freedom and apply unrelenting pressure on the Sisi regime to respect the sacred right to report the truth without fear of persecution.


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