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Tag: National security

Draft ‘access to information’ law is nothing of the sort

Published in Ahram Online on May 13, 2013 The draft legislation on access to information ignores civil society recommendations and will lead to a toothless information watchdog that is beholden to ill-defined ‘national security’ interests At a news conference on 2 April, Judge Wael El-Rifaie, assistant for human rights affairs to the Minister of Justice, announced that the ministry had finished drafting a law entitled ‘the right to information.’ Al-Rifaie described the law as “a dream we always had, to achieve the goals of respecting a person’s right to knowledge.” As a member of civil society that discussed the drafts of…

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National security and canned sardines

Published in Ahram Online on February 9, 2013 Nothing protects national security more than responsible citizenship, critical to which is freedom of — and access to — information There is a famous story that is probably more fiction than fact about how Military Intelligence in the 1960s was excessive in its censorship of the media, to the extent that it objected to publishing an article reporting a drop in the availability of canned sardines on the market. Their objection was that while the writer did not mean to divulge military secrets, putting this information in the public domain could benefit…

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The tragedy of books in Egypt

Published in Ahram Online on August 29, 2012 It was republished in Free Speech Debate on September 10, 2012 Looking at Egypt, historian Khaled Fahmy affords a harrowing insight into the status of that most indispensable of commodities: the book In recent weeks I encountered two incidents that made me feel extremely sorrowful about the situation of books, reading, and indeed culture, in Egypt. The first happened in New York City, and requires a brief background For the past few years, I have been working on a book that tackles the social and cultural history of Egypt during the 19th century.…

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