Egypt Warns Journalists over Coverage of Attacks ; Rights Advocates Fear Sisi Will Use Militant Actions as Excuse to Stifle Dissent

By Fahim, Kareem | International New York Times, July 7, 2015 | Go to article overview

Egypt Warns Journalists over Coverage of Attacks ; Rights Advocates Fear Sisi Will Use Militant Actions as Excuse to Stifle Dissent


Fahim, Kareem, International New York Times


President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, facing criticism of his counterinsurgency strategy, compared reporting to a "fourth generation of warfare, and even fifth."

To the list of urgent threats facing Egypt, including militants behind assassinations and car bombings, Egyptian officials have warned of another danger in recent days: journalism, or at least the kind of reporting that strays from the government line.

President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi likened some "media and methods of communication" on Saturday to a "fourth generation of warfare, and even fifth," and the Foreign Ministry tried to steer journalists toward the usage of its preferred terms for militant groups, including "terrorists," "destroyers" and "slayers."

The most sweeping measure came from the cabinet, which included a provision in a draft antiterrorism bill that threatens at least two years in prison for those who contradict official figures, such as death tolls, when reporting on militant attacks.

The official alarm about the news media follows a series of deadly militant attacks that have shaken Mr. Sisi's government and led to criticism of its counterinsurgency strategy. The government has responded by confidently asserting its dominance over militant groups, and working to ensure that no one says otherwise.

Officials were particularly incensed by news reports on a jihadist attack on the military on Wednesday in the Sinai Peninsula. Several news outlets, including the website of the flagship state newspaper, Al-Ahram, cited unidentified security officials in reporting that dozens of soldiers had been killed or wounded in the attack, for which the local affiliate of the Islamic State claimed responsibility.

A military spokesman, in contrast, said that 17 soldiers had been killed, and sharply accused foreign news outlets of inflating the number of casualties. …

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