Journalism Is Not A Crime

Photo By Brendon Connelly from Newberg, Oregon (Quesadilla and light reading) [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Photo By Brendon Connelly from Newberg, Oregon (Quesadilla and light reading) [CC-BY-SA-2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

All over the world, people begin their day with a cup of coffee or tea and the morning paper. As we have progressed into the digital age, this might be an online news source or the click of a remote for cable or mainstream television news.

The world over, journalists spend far more in passion for the truth than they receive in salary. Their risks are seldom appreciated by the news consumers. Their job is to get all sides of a story – including interviews and perspectives that may be contrary to what governments or other subjects of their reports may wish. As such, they risk arrest from one and kidnapping, physical attacks or death from others.

Since 2007, 540 journalists have been killed world wide. Many of them you have never heard of. Many of them died with no one reporting their ordeal.

Three Aljazeera journalists, Peter Greste, Mohamed Fahmy, and Baher Mohamed, have been detained and held in Egypt’s prisons for 100 days. Their trial resumes April 10. A fourth Al Jazeera journalist, Abdullah al-Shami, has been held in Egypt for more than six months and has been on hunger strike since January 23. His detention was extended for an additional 45 days on March 13. Another Al Jazeera journalist, Mohamed Badr, was arrested on July 15 and released on February 5, when he was acquitted of a series of charges including being involved in the protests in Cairo’s Ramses Square.

Egyptian authorities are accusing the Aljazeera staff of falsely reporting the news and of collaboration with the Muslim Brotherhood, and included a raid on their hotel room in which their equipment and recorded interviews were seized. There is absolutely no evidence of any sympathy toward the Muslim Brotherhood by any of the journalists involved. It is the understanding of international communities that journalists can interview both sides of a story during a conflict without being seen as taking a side in the issue.

Al Anstey, the managing director of Al Jazeera English said: “Mohamed, Baher, and Peter have now been behind bars in Egypt for 100 days for simply doing their job, and for carrying out the highest quality journalism. The charges against them are false and baseless, so there is no justification whatsoever in the detention of innocent journalists for such an outrageous amount of time. We continue to call for their immediate release and for the release of our colleague from Al Jazeera Arabic, Abdullah Al Shamy, who has been behind bars for 236 days.”

“We are very grateful for the immense support of our staff, from right around the world. The response to their detention has been outstanding. The campaign is focused on the release of our four staff, but is fundamentally a stand in the defence of journalism itself, and a call for people everywhere to have a right to be heard and the right to know what is really going on in their world.”

Nothing in life comes without a price. Next time you consume the news, or complain about subscription prices, try to remember that people are putting their lives on the line so you can know what happens around the world from the comfort and safety of your home. Remember that the real price of the news is sometimes paid for in blood and most times the sacrifice goes unnoticed.

Occupy World Writes adds our voice to those calling for the release of all journalists held in Egypt and the world over. Journalism is not a crime. As we witness growing secrecy in governments and courts blocking coverage of news, we are reminded that a free press is not only essential to democracy, it is an emblem of honor in civilized society.

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