Egypt court hands five-year jail term to prominent photojournalist

Mahmoud Abu Zaid, a photojournalist known as Shawkan smiles inside a cage in an Egyptian Court in Cairo, Egypt, Saturday Sept. 8, 2018. (AP)
Updated 08 September 2018
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Egypt court hands five-year jail term to prominent photojournalist

  • Shawkan was arrested in August 2013 as he covered deadly clashes in Cairo between security forces and supporters of ousted Islamist president Muhammad Mursi
  • Shawkan’s detention sparked outrage among human rights groups and NGOs who lobbied continuously for his release

CAIRO: An Egyptian court on Saturday handed a five-year jail sentence to prominent photojournalist Mahmoud Abu Zeid, widely known as Shawkan, who earlier this year received UNESCO’s World Freedom Prize.
Shawkan was arrested in August 2013 as he covered deadly clashes in Cairo between security forces and supporters of ousted Islamist president Muhammad Mursi.
He was accused of “murder and membership of a terrorist organization” — charges that can carry the death penalty — but should be able to walk free after already having spent five years in jail.
Shawkan should be able to leave prison “within a few days,” his lawyer Karim Abdelrady said as he welcomed the verdict.
But the lawyer added that the sentence was nevertheless “unfair because he (Shawkan) was only doing his job” and covering the events unfolding in the Egyptian capital five years ago.
Shawkan’s detention sparked outrage among human rights groups and NGOs who lobbied continuously for his release.
On Thursday, Amnesty International and press freedom group Reporters Without Borders (RSF) held a joint rally outside the Egyptian embassy in Paris to demand that he be set free.
At the time, Amnesty put out a statement warning Egyptian judicial authorities: “The world is watching you.”
RSF ranks Egypt 161st out of 180 countries on its press freedom index and says that at least 31 journalists are currently detained in the Arab world’s most populous nation.
Shawkan was one of more than 700 defendants on trial in the same case, most of them facing charges of killing police and vandalising property during the clashes.
The same court that jailed him also confirmed on Saturday death sentences initially issued in July against 75 defendants, including leaders of Mursi’s outlawed Muslim Brotherhood.
They include senior Brotherhood members Mohamed el-Baltagui, Issam Al-Aryan and Safwat Hijazi.
Of the 75 defendants, 44 were in the dock while the rest were tried in absentia.
On August 14, 2013, one of the bloodiest days in Egypt’s modern history, a month after the army ousted Mursi, police moved to disperse a sprawling Islamist protest camp at Rabaa Al-Adawiya square in Cairo.
About 700 people were killed within hours at Rabaa Al-Adawiya and Nahda Square where another sit-in was being held.
Hundreds more were killed in street clashes with police over the months that followed and mass arrests were made.
Amnesty and Human Rights Watch say at least 40,000 people were arrested in the first year after Mursi’s ouster on July 3, 2013.
Egypt’s courts have sentenced hundreds of them to death or lengthy jail terms after speedy mass trials, that the human rights group said made a mockery of due process.
They include Mursi and several leaders of his Brotherhood movement.


MBC Group inks deal with China’s National Radio and Television Administration

The agreement was signed at MBC Group’s headquarters in Dubai. (Supplied)
Updated 15 November 2018
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MBC Group inks deal with China’s National Radio and Television Administration

  • The deal will includ dubbed television programs from both territories, as well as joint productions
  • The digital media sector is of utmost importance to us: Al Ibrahim

JEDDAH: MBC Group has signed a three-year memorandum of understanding (MOU) with China’s National Radio and Television Administration (NRTA) on Wednesday.
The MoU seeks to develop traditional and digital media content; sharing TV and film production expertise and competencies; and promoting and developing the human resource sector.
The strategic agreement will comprise media content in all its forms, including dubbed television programs from both territories, as well as joint productions.
The signing ceremony took place at MBC Group’s headquarters in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, in the presence of MBC Group Chairman Sheikh Waleed Bin Ibrahim Al Ibrahim; Vice Chairman Ali Al-Hedeithy, and CEO Sam Barnett. Representing NRTA was Gao Jianmin, Deputy Minister of Information at NRTA, as well as a number of senior executives and consultants.
Al Ibrahim said: “The National Radio and Television Administration aims to develop a comprehensive media environment that simulates its peers from the world's largest companies, in terms of efficiency, performance, innovation, research and development, as well as other areas of growth and development.”
In terms of digital media, the agreement will see MBC showcasing Chinese films dubbed and translated into Arabic, with NRTA tailoring MBC content for Chinese audiences.
“The digital media sector is of utmost importance to us; digital platforms are now a necessity for the growth of any media organization in the region and the world. Investing in the event industry and in human capital is as crucial as investing in media content, so we are now sharing our experiences in these sectors with our partners in China,” Al Ibrahim said.
Jianmin stated: “We are pleased to announce today this strategic cooperation with MBC in the context of the Belt and Road Initiative. MBC has established over the years the prime broadcasting platform across the Middle East and North Africa region and we believe our partnership will support the cultural cooperation and content sharing across our regions.
“We are looking forward to a successful cooperation that will represent one more milestone on the long history of exchanges between China and the Middle East.”
The agreement also includes the attendance and participation of both parties in events and festivals hosted by either party. For example, this includes the participation of MBC in the China-Arab Cooperation Forum in Radio and Television, in addition to other television and film festivals held in China. Meanwhile, MBC Group will host NRTA at media, film, television and festival events in the region.
Resourcing and the human development sector is at the heart of this agreement, focusing on the exchange of expertise through joint seminars, courses and training programs aimed at honing the human talent of both parties.