Egypt's media gag order on Mexican killings mocked by activists

Published September 17th, 2015 - 01:25 GMT

A media gag has been reinforced on Egyptian newspapers in the Mexican tourists’ shootings of last Sunday as the general prosecution is investigating the case.

The shooting killed 12, and the military and police announced they had been “accidently” targeted in a security raid in the Bahariya Oasis, after they went into a “restricted desert area” without informing security authorities according to regulations.

Moreover, critical reactions emerged to the official response to the accident by Egyptian ministry officials, who blamed the tourism company and the tourists for entering a prohibited area.

President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi met Wednesday with Mexico’s Secretary of Foreign Affairs Claudia Ruiz Massieu to inform her on the latest updates of the case. Al-Sisi reviewed “swift measures taken by the Egyptian authorities in dealing with the aftermath of the accident.”

“Relevant state authorities have been instructed to swiftly offer treatment to the injured and provide them with all forms of care,” a presidential statement said.

The president affirmed Egypt’s readiness to transparently cooperate with Mexico and to brief the Mexican government on the results of the ongoing investigations, as Egypt appreciates the sensitivity of the situation and the grief of the victims’ families over their loss.

On a separate note, activists on Twitter mocked the ‘media gag order,’ because Egyptian officials had been lacking transparency on the matter. Human rights’ lawyer Amr Imam, currently seeking the right of his cousin, a tour guide who was among the killed, wrote:

“As if the truth was going to come out when media is allowed to discuss the case… I am going to publish everything I get hold of.”

Such reactions come particularly because media gags have been applied in several other cases that have sparked public opinion controversy.

Among those ‘banned cases’ were the shooting of Shaimaa Al-Sabbagh in a peaceful protest, the death of lawyer Kareem Hamdy as a result of police beating, allegations of sexual bribery involving a judge, and even the recent ‘shocking’ corruption case of the agriculture ministry.

Twitter user @magdymohamed wrote: “every time you are in trouble, enforce a media gag and throw the case file in your drawer.”

The concept of media gag is based on preventing conflicting media reports and public opinion from interfering with a case’ investigations, also to guarantee objectivity and fairness. Prosecution authorities are in turn supposed to release updated information.

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