Written By: Fatima Arshad
A case that has taken over the international media’s headlines is not that of the situation in Iraq nor of what crimes Israel is committing in Palestine in search of its national but that of the sentences handed down to the Al Jazeera staff.
There is no doubt that the sentences came as a shock to everyone. The three journalists – Peter Greste, Mohamed Fahmy and Baher Mohamed – were detained by Egyptian authorities after a raid on their hotel in Cairo.
Fahmy and Greste were each given prison sentences of seven years, whereas Baher got an additional three years for possession of “ammunition”.
It is amusing to note that the evidence provided to support the decision were this – a news report made while none of them were in Egypt, a BBC podcast, recordings on non-Egyptian issues and a pop video by singer Gotye. Neither of these, agreeably, are evidence enough nor evidence logical enough to be called evidence that are worthy of supporting such a decision.
All three journalists were completely neutral in their presentation of the image and happenings of Egypt, and thus labelling them as aiders of a “terrorist organization” (reference being made to the Muslim Brotherhood) is not, by any means, justifiable. Also the allegation that Baher Mohamed was in possession of ammunition is a corruption of the truth, as what was named “ammunition” was in actuality a spent bullet casing he had found on the ground during a protest.
Al Anstey, Al Jazeera English managing director rightly said that the verdicts defied “logic, sense and any semblance of justice”.
The Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi said that he will not interfere with judicial verdicts, following international protest over the unjust decision made by the Egyptian judiciary. Sisi also said that the world needs to understand and recognize the Egyptian judiciary as an independent body and thus interference by anyone would not be acceptable to him nor the judiciary.
The response by the media world over has been extremely supportive and moving.
Also worth mentioning is the reaction of diplomats around the world. John Kerry called the sentences “chilling and draconian”. The British Foreign Minister, William Hague said that he was “appalled”.
These actions by the Egyptian authorities are playing their part in tarnishing Egypt’s already ruined image. As a country with bright future prospects if injustice is eradicated and democracy welcomed, Egypt needs to start work on improving what it’s known for.
People all over the world are hopeful of good news coming from the Egyptian court, but until that happens (as it is high unlikely), let’s pray karma intervenes.
May those called ‘criminals’ for bringing awareness to their people and doing their job, have fate on their side.
For now... #FreeAJStaff