Forum for Development and Human Rights Dialogue (FDHRD)
"Complaints Book- DIWAN EL MAZALEM".
Analysis of the contents of the newspapers columns on complaints received by citizens.
During the period from 1st January till 30th April 2005
Participated in documenting and colleting date:
Sabah El Touni
Said Abdel Hafiz
To the spirit of the prominent journalist " Abdel Wahab Motawe'e "
The leader of social journalism in Egypt
" Forum for Development and Human Rights Dialogue "
"Public opinion is the daily trend whose voice is dominant over the voice of other in journalism and in the parliament sessions"
"Opposing opinion to the opinion of the states is urgently needed rather than the supporting opinion. The opposing opinion can not exist except in the case of the existence of journalism free from the control and guidance of the state"
" Mustafa Mare'e"
"FDHRD thanks the Land Center for Human Rigths for all the assistances they provided for our researchers"
When the oppressed screams to request justice and fairness
When the famous sociologist Mr. Sayed Ewees issued his two famous books named" Screams of the silent people – Hitaf El Samteen " and " Mails to El Emam El Shafie" in which he re-read the contents of statements written by people on their vehicles. In addition, he exposed the contents of mails sent to the Islamic religious Imam whose name is El Imam El Shafie (1). Since that time, people did not pay attention to complaints sent to newspapers in general and sent to NGOs in particular.
The title "Complaints book" is selected to be the title of it quarter report because those who work in it are aware of the important role played by this new youth association that has recently affiliated to the group of human rights defenders in Egypt. This association is growing up everyday although of the obstacles which are encountering it and the sufferings that those who affiliate to it are facing.
The human rights associations are not any more – and shall not be- group of people who wear night suits and stay in an air-conditioned room while they put their plans. However, these associations are in reality working for people and with people, therefore they put their plans due to the needs of people, and that exactly what FDHRD did when it prepared its report.
In the fourth page of this report, FDHRD stated " This report aims at drawing up strategic policies for the work of FDHRD during the five coming years through its various programs in the cases of development and human rights". This report states that this aim can be implemented through "addressing the needs and troubles of citizens in the Egyptian society on one hand and analyzing the contents of complaints published in the newspapers on the other hand". Therefore, this new and young human rights association draws up its policies due to the nature of problems that the society faces. It aims at trying to solve such problems or to assist in solving such problems and or at least to draw the attention to those problems and suggest the possible solutions. This report indicates that the group working in this association is professionals who succeeded in achieving their aims.
Before finishing this introduction, I want to talk about the founder of this association whose name is Said Abdel Hafiz. Said is my friend and colleague for a long time. I first knew him more than ten years ago as we were working together in the Egyptian Organization for Human Rights (EOHR). He worked as a lawyer in the Field Work Unit of EOHR and then he was responsible for the campaign of the right of expression. Then he worked as an executive director of EOHR. During the time I worked with him at EOHR and even after I left it , Said did not stop his thinking on developing work and he kept on hoping that EOHR will increase its work in the field work.
Afterwards, we worked together in the filed of research as he is a good academic and has special features in his writings.
When Said moved to work in Internews association as the programs manager, I was following up with admiration his activities and his struggle as well. I felt that Internews has taken one of the youngest and active human rights strugglers . When Said returned to us he becomes more experienced in the administrative and technical issues. He established a new association where we can meet and discuss issues related to development and human rights. This newborn association is a new blood in the movement of human rights in Egypt .
Dear Said Abdel Hafez , your association is very welcomed and I am sure that you put not only some of the money you own but also your experience in this association in order to reply to those who say that the human rights defenders are looking for money and profits .
Nigad El Borei
The head of board of directors of the Group of Democratic Development
Maadi, Wednesday, 15/6/2005
The Egyptian journalism was and is still concerned about the troubles of citizens. They made themselves as guards to the citizens' rights and protectors of the country interests. The role of media started to be obvious since the regime of the Othmanic leader Ismail- El Khidiwi Ismail - when there was a severe conflict between nationals, the ruling power and the foreign occupiers. At that time, El Khidiwi Ismail encouraged national and peoples' newspapers and he gave them many freedoms because he wanted the press to support him in his confrontation against his creditors. Therefore, several newspapers started to call for adopting the free systems (2). However, the free press were defending the independency of the country and they opposed to the foreign intervene on one hand and they were criticizing the policies of El Khidiwi Ismail and his deeds on the other hand.
The free and independent press is not any more a way of social and political entertainment. In addition, the right to the freedom of opinion and expression becomes right for each citizen and a general right for every individual in the society (3). Therefore, the concept of the freedom of press includes the rights of citizens themselves to express their pains, troubles and opinions through newspapers. In this regard, it is clear that there is a relatively kind of relation between the economic building up and the achievement of development on one hand and the press and media building up on the other hand.
FDHRD agrees on the opinion that states the solution of social problems is connected with understanding. This means that when a system is fed up with knowledge, there will be a general understanding of the issues inside this system. Consequently, when knowlwdge is accessible, the solution will be accessible as well because knowledge is an important part in the general process of the social censorship which includes the participation of the media mediators in the different social levels.
Besides, the complaints columns in the Egyptian newspapers is not considered any more a place where some of the citizens present their opinions and viewpoints. However, they are changed into social campaigns for change which aim at providing individuals with sufficient information on a specific case and therefore disseminate awareness and drawing attention on some problems. In this regard, FDHRD is working on supporting such campaigns and creating a proper atmosphere for the success of these campaigns. In addition, it works on enlarging the places allocated for publishing these opinions and troubles. Furthermore, it works on activating the suitable criteria in order to reach the appropriate methods to achieve the aim of these campaigns, which is to search for a safer and prosperous life.
It is clear that press comes at the top factors which influence the formation of the public opinion. In each society, there is a general feeling of having interests in the common general issues. In this regard, journalisms and other media means are the one that draw the attention of public opinion and direct their feelings because they publish thoughts and information very quickly among millions of people and therefore they affects the public opinion.
The public opinion is an expression of specific subject, which is an issue of discussion. It is also an expression of the citizens of the same social group of their opinion on a specific issue as well as it is the stand of ordinary people on a current case. Besides, it is the agreement of thoughts on anything that interest the human beings in a specific country. Moreover, the public opinion is a group of common feelings and thoughts of a majority of people in a specific country towards an issue they are interested in and feelings dominating a specific group that link them together.
In order to form a public opinion, each individual has to know what other individuals in the group know about an issue and therefore this issue will become clear to everyone and consequently the whole group can take a judgment towards it .
In this context, the existence of a real public opinion is connected with the existence of a free democratic ruling system in the country. Therefore, the real public opinion can not exist in the countries where press is hindered by legal obstacles and has to take the permission when holding its general assembles. It can not also exist when newspapers can not be issued except after taking various permissions from the government as well as it can not exist when individuals can not own communication means.
The leader of press, Mahmoud Azmi , was the first one who talked about the role of press in serving society as he considered it the teacher of nations against the political framework and is a method of announcing news and publishing different opinions of individuals.
In this regard, Mahmoud Azmi stressed on the social role of press in directing the public opinion through publishing information and mature thoughts.
This report aims at drawing up strategic policies for the work of FDHRD during the five coming years through its various programs in the cases of development and human rights.
In addition, this report aims at addressing the needs and troubles of citizens in the Egyptian society on one hand and analyzing the contents of complaints published in the newspapers on the other hand . Finally, it aims at knowing the trends of various kinds of newspapers such as the national, independent and parties' newspapers when they publish specific kinds of complaints in their pages. Consequently , this report aims also at working on encouraging press to play its role as a mediator between citizens and the different kinds of the country bodies when press highlights the problems in the society and covers such problems in order to find solutions to them and therefore it participates in the development of society.
This report is issued every four months by the Developmental Media program of FDHRD.
In this respect, the Developmental Media Program aims at:
Motivating peoples' participation in the political affairs.
Disseminating the values of forgiveness, the acceptance of others and equality of opportunities.
Disseminating the concept of citizenship, which is considered the skeleton of rights and duties.
Cultivating the democratic values and individual initiatives.
Working on developing media in order to enable citizens to benefit from it and to attract individuals to resort to national media means.
This report depends on the concepts of development and human right when it works on monitoring and analyzing the contents of newspapers. These newspapers are Al Akhbar – Al Ahram which is an national newspaper – Al Wafd which is the newspaper of the liberal party of Al Wafd –Al Ahali which is the newspaper of El Tagamo'o El Yasari party - Al Arabi which is the newspaper of the Nasirist party and Al Asbo'o and Sawt El Omah newspaper which are independent newspapers.
When doing the analysis complaints contents published in the newspapers, this report depend on the following concepts:
First: The right to political participation.
Second: The rights to access to food, health care and housing.
Third: The right to access to education.
Fourth: The right to work
Fifth: The right of children to get health and social care and to be protected against violence and exploitation.
Sixth: The rights of laborers to negotiate on the appropriate salary that they deserve and on the suitable conditions of work and the proper safe atmosphere.
Seventh: The right to own lands particularly by those who depend on the production of lands to survive.
Eighth: The right to equality.
Ninth: The right to protect the environment because the rights to access to food, health care and housing are related to the existence of an environment, which is free from pollution.
Tenth: The rights of individuals in receiving administrative measures that shall protect their interests and protect them from exploitation.
The FDHRD selected the above-mentioned developmental concepts in its analysis in order to disseminate such concepts and to guarantee the increase of the space allocated for such concepts in the Egyptian newspapers. In this regard, it must be noted that the developmental concept was previously linked with the economic growth. This concept has been enlarged to include social, political and cultural dimensions in addition to the economic dimension. Therefore, the developmental concept goes together with the declaration of the right to development in defining the developmental process. In this regard, it is defined as a comprehensive process with economic, social, cultural and political dimensions aiming at achieving the continuous improvements of prosperous life for all inhabitants and individuals through which human rights and basic freedoms can be achieved.
In this respect , the concept of human rights aims at providing a noble life for human being is relations to his right to the expression, access to health care, be judged by the competent judge. In addition to the other rights mentioned in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights , the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the International Covenant on Economic and Social Rights. The right to development is also a complementary right to these rights, which aims at the continuous and permanent development that cares about the needs of the coming generations.
FDHRD selected seven newspapers in its analysis of the contents of complaints published in the newspapers aiming at examining real samples of daily Egyptian newspapers which owned by the country and political parties as well as independent newspapers.
FDHRD hopes to include analysis of other newspapers in the future.
This report is divided into three parts which are:
The first part : General remarks monitored by the report.
The second part: The nature of the complaints contents during the period from 1 st January till 30 th April 2005.
The third part: Conclusion, recommendations and addendum that includes tables.
1 - It was a habit that those who felt they were oppressed , they sent their mails to the tomb of Iman El Shafie in order to complaint against the injustice they went through or requesting him to support them and punish the perpetrators.
2 - Ezat Qorani, justice and freedom in Fagr El Nahda El Arabia, issue no. 20, page 306- 1980
3 - Salah El Deen Hafiz, Pains of the Freedom of Journalism , page 45, Al Ahram Center for translation and Publishing. 1993
4 - Negad El Bora'i- Crimes of journalism and publishing- the publisher is the United Group in 2004.
5 - Mahmoud Azmi, born in 1889 and died in 1954. He was one of the leaders of mass communication studies in Egypt. For more information , contact Dr. Nagwa Kamel, Mahmoud Azmi – "the leader of mass communication studies". Study published in the mass communication magazine , issue no. 94 of 1999, page 158