Freedom of the press is the basis of any free society but when the freedom to print clashes with the right of an individual to protect his reputation, several issues are raised as to how does society handle such situations. Egypt’s Supreme Press Council has revoked the printing license of an independent weekly newspaper, Al Balagh, Al-Gadeed, for publishing a story that claims a prominent Egyptian actor and other actors engaged in homosexual acts. The editor and reporters who wrote the story now stand accused of publishing false news. The Interior Ministry issued a statement refuting the authenticity of what was published and denied any actor was guilty of homosexuality.
The government was supported in its actions by the Press Syndicate whose Deputy Chairman, Abdel-Moshen Salama, told Al Ahram: “this has nothing to do with curbing the freedom of expression, this is sheer sensationalism and yellow journalism.” But, isn’t the issue how does society handle yellow journalism? There are courts which can hear charges of defamation of character, but when government intervenes and decides to ban a newspaper, one can only ask why is government playing a role?
We will not print the names of anyone who was charged with being a homosexual. We await a court decision as to whether the editor and reporters violated the rights of a human by printing a story that may or may not be accurate.