In comments to attendees, Sisi said Egypt is in the middle of a challenging situation, as the whole region is in danger, and he said this means Egyptians must stand together and that the media must be truthful. He also said the media was important, and that it should rely “on logic more than emotional speeches.”
“Media should include all opinions, not only one as it used to during the 60s. We need media that is aware of the challenges we face,” Sisi said.
Sisi’s comments, though coming across as being in support of press freedom, come at a time when Egypt over the past year has jailed at least 14 journalists, which according to the New York-based non-profit Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), makes the country “among the world’s worst repressors” of press freedom.
The most high profile among the detained journalists are Al Jazeera reporters Mohamed Fahmy, Peter Greste and Baher Mohamed. The trio was sentenced on June 23, 2014 to sentences between seven and 10 years in prison on charges that their reporting had been “damaging to national security” in its coverage of crackdowns against the Muslim Brotherhood of toppled Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi.
The CPJ wrote on their website on June 23 the trial was “almost farcical” and politically motivated, and many international media outlets in addition to Al Jazeera have called for the men’s release and for Sisi to intervene on their behalf.