President Mubarak is a firm ally of George Bush in the fight to extend democracy to the world. Unfortunately, the just released World Press Freedom Index ranks Egypt at the bottom of the list of countries failing to support the concept of freedom of the press. Egypt came out 146 of 169 countries that were listed. Eritrea holds the 169th position due to President Issalas Afeworki’s crackdown which has ended he idea of any independent newspapers and resulted in four reporters dying while in detention.
The editors of four leading Egyptian independent newspapers have been sentenced to one year in jail for “publishing false information(about the health of President Mubarak) likely o disturb public order.” The chief editor of al-Ahram and two reporters for the paper received two year prison terms for misquoting the Minister of Justice. Reda Helal, an editor for al-Ahram, disappeared four years ago on her way home from work. This pattern of cracking down on newspapers and reporters who challenge the Egyptian government comes at a time when there are numerous reports of President Mubarak grooming his son as his successor. The Egyptian people need an open forum of ideas to examine their future, but this does not appear likely as long as Mubarak is in charge.