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Al Jazeera and media worldwide launch campaign to free journalists threatened in Egypt

Journalists in Malaysia rally for Al Jazeera colleagues in Egypt, Feb 27, 2014

Journalists in some 30 countries around the world rallied yesterday, February 27, in support of their colleagues in Egypt who have come under attack, specifically the 20 journalists of Al Jazeera currently facing criminal charges. The network itself took a lead in organizing the protest actions.

In Canada, actions took place in Toronto and Montreal. Participants in the Toronto rally included John Stackhouse, the editor-in-chief of The Globe and Mail daily, and Jian Ghomeshi, host of CBC Radio One’s weekday, one-hour arts program Q.

Three of the Al Jazeera journalists are in prison in harsh conditions and facing serious, ‘terrorism’ related charges, specifically aiding and abetting the largest political party and movement in the country, the Muslim Brotherhood and the political party it founded, the Freedom and Justice Party. They include Canadian Mohamed Fahmy and Australian Peter Greste.

Update, March 6, 2014: The three accused Al Jazeera journalists made a court appearance on March 5 in Cairo. Mohamed Fahmy asked for a bail release in order to receive treatment for an arm that was injured during his original arrest. That request was refused. Canada's Conservative government continues to refuse calls by media organizations and journalists, human rights advocates and family members to demand the release from prison Fahmy.

Jian Ghomeshi hosted an excellent story about the journalists on the Feb. 27 edtion of Q. He interviewed Sharif Fahmy, brother of Mohamed Fahmy, and Marwan Bashara, senior political analyst at Al Jazeera English.

Bashara wrote an op-ed in the New York Times two weeks ago titled, Egypt’s war on journalists. His interview with Q provides an excellent overview of the state of press freedom, or lack thereof, in Egypt today. He says that the two and a half years between the overthrow of dictator Hosni Mubarak in February 2011 and the military coup of July 3, 2013 were a “reporter’s dream come true” of freedom of opportunity to report on the dramatic events unfolding in the country. Today, Egypt’s regime is lashing out with unprecedented violence and vengeance against journalists, in particular through its use of draconian, ‘anti-terrorism’ laws

Here is the Al Jazeera report announcing its global campaign to free imprisoned and accused journalists in Egypt.

You can listen to the Feb. 27, 2014 interviews with Sharif Fahmy and Marwan Bashara on CBC Radio One’s Q, here.

You can read the following news stories of the Feb 27, 2014 protests in support of Al Jazeera journalists in Egypt:

Supporters around the world demand release of Egyptian-Canadian journalists, by Gloria Galloway, The Globe and Mail February 27, 2014

Canadians demand release of journalists, by Diana Mehta, Canadian Press, in Globe and Mail print edition, Feb 28, 2014, online here

International demonstrations mark protests over Canadian journalist’s jailing in Egypt, by Raphael Satter, Associated Press, published in Toronto Star online, Feb 27 2014

Journalists hold global day of protest over Al-Jazeera staff held in Egypt, by Dugald Baird, The Guardian, February 27, 2014

Watch a three-minute video report of the Feb 27, 2014 protest in Toronto

You can read a comprehensive article on Egypt and the aftermath of the July 3, 2013 coup d'etat, by Roger Annis, dated Jan. 10, 2014, here.

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