Ex-Egyptian TV star frustrated with post-Mubarak progress

Shahira Amin, who resigned in solidarity with protesters, hopes for more laws protecting journalists, freedom of press.

Shahira Amin 311 (photo credit: Ruth Eglash)
Shahira Amin 311
(photo credit: Ruth Eglash)
Press freedom is in a worse place in Egypt today than it was under ousted president Hosni Mubarak, according to the former deputy head of Nile TV International, Shahira Amin, who quit her job in protest during last February’s uprising in her country.
Speaking at the World Justice Forum held in Barcelona last week, Amin – who now freelances for international media organizations, including for CNN’s Inside Africa – told the audience that her work was far more scrutinized by secret services than ever before and that journalists and bloggers have less freedoms to criticize those running the country in this interim period.
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Amin moderated a panel at the conference focusing on freedom of the press, access to information and the rule of law. During the discussion, she said that while she welcomed the public empowerment that has gripped Egyptian citizens since the revolution, she was also concerned whether the so-called “Arab Spring” would bring about fundamental changes in freedom for journalists and bloggers.
In a story published by CNN last week, Amin talked about the revolution’s shortcomings and interviewed a host of journalists and bloggers that had been repeatedly attacked by the current government and by the military for jeopardizing state security.
Amin herself has been repeatedly scrutinized by state security services and even received threats after walking out of her prominent job as a well-known anchor on the state-run Nile News TV, where she worked since 1989. She described the day she handed in her notice as liberating, saying that she had been on her way to work when she passed by demonstrators in Tahrir Square. At that point, she realized that she could not continue ignoring the voices of the people.
Since then, Amin has been attacked for a host of articles, most notably for revealing that the military had carried out virginity tests on young female protesters present in Tahrir Square during the uprisings. While she could not reveal her sources in that story, the news that such invasive tests had been carried out on young women caused a stir in Egypt and across the world.
Now Egypt’s protesters are just waiting to see if the revolution will go far enough to realize their goals.
“Mubarak did us a favor; he made every mistake in the book,” she commented during her talk, referring to when the former leader shut down the Internet and other forms of communication.
Regarding the new constitution that will soon be drafted in Egypt, Amin concluded that she would like to see more legislation to support press freedom and protect journalists so that, like her, they are not subjected to as many threats.