Egypt | Freedom House

Freedom of the Press



Freedom of the Press 2004

2004 Scores

Press Status

Not Free

Press Freedom Score
(0 = best, 100 = worst)


Political Environment
(0 = best, 40 = worst)


Economic Environment
(0 = best, 30 = worst)


Although Egyptians have the ability to express their views openly in a diversity of media outlets, press freedom in Egypt continues to suffer from vague laws, uneven implementation of the laws, and control by the government. The Press Law, Publications Law, and penal code regulate and govern the press. The penal code provides for fines and imprisonment for criticisms of the president, members of government, and foreign heads of state. The specific provisions of the law are vague. Although the Supreme Constitutional Court agreed more than five years ago to review the constitutionality of penal code provisions that provide for imprisonment of journalists guilty of libel, the court has yet to issue a ruling on the case. In 2003, the government facilitated a greater diversity of media outlets, with the Shura Council's Higher Council for the Press approving the registration of nearly 40 new magazines and newspapers. The government provides subsidies to most major newspapers, and it owns shares in Egypt's three largest newspapers, whose editors are appointed by the president. Opposition parties have the ability to publish their own newspapers. In July, the ministry of interior banned the distribution of the second issue of the opposition Al-Saada newspaper without a court order, and state security officials told the chairman of the paper that the government did not approve of its editorial policy. In September, the government banned the distribution of the London-based Al-Quds Al-Arabi newspaper, allegedly because of criticisms of Egypt's president. The government controls content in the state-owned broadcast media. Egypt permitted the establishment of three private satellite television stations, but their owners have close ties to the government. In October, one of these private satellite television stations, Dream TV, canceled a program with a prominent political analyst, Muhammad Hassanein Heikal, after government officials objected to the program's content.