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August 23, 2012 10:34 am

Journalist Accused of Attacking Morsi Faces Trial in Egypt

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Billboard advertisement for Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi. Photo: wiki commons.

Egyptian authorities have arrested a man named Islam Afifi after he was accused of distributing false information and rumors that criticized president Mohamed Morsi, causing damage to public safety and undermining the stability of the country.

Afifi has been charged in a court in Giza, Egypt, after an investigation began into the Al-Dostor newspaper, where Afifi is the Editor-in-Chief.  The publication was accused of increasing incitement against Morsi and his political party, the Muslim Brotherhood.

The case is being watched closely by Egyptian journalists as it is believed to be the first attempt to subvert the freedom of speech and the press through the judicial process, since the Muslim Brotherhood came to power.

“Both the authorities and the Muslim Brotherhood must accept public criticism of their positions and actions without trying to hide behind Mubarak-era laws criminalizing the exercise of the right to freedom of expression,” said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, Amnesty International’s Deputy Middle East and North Africa Director.”Egypt should uphold its international obligations and ensure people are not subject to criminal prosecution for peaceful criticism, even if what they say is perceived to be offensive.”

While running for Egypt’s presidency, Morsi vowed to protect journalist’s freedoms, including the opinions of those who disagreed with his administration.

“I pledge the freedom of media will never be touched, and no opinion will be prevented nor any paper will be shut down within the law and professional oath among journalists.”

At the first hearing in Giza, Afifi denied the charges against him, and the second hearing is scheduled for September 16th.

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