Egyptian journalists debated press freedom after decades of suppression
On 3 May 2011 the UNESCO Cairo Office supported the commemoration of World Press Freedom Day, which was organized by the Egyptian Journalists Syndicate at its premises. The event attracted approximately 200 journalists, including leading Egyptian media figures as well as editors of major Egyptian press.
The Cairo event was streamed live to the United Nations Headquarters in New York and the World Press Freedom Day conference held in Washington DC, USA. Private and public media, such as Al Jazeera, Dream and Nile TV, had covered the ceremony in their evening news bulletins.
The commemoration was held under the slogan "Freedom of Expression for All", honouring the victims of the media during the revolution and discussing what the press should offer to the community after the revolution.
During the opening ceremony, the Director of United Nations Information Centre in Egypt, Khawla Mattar, delivered the joint statement by the UN Secretary General, Director-General of UNESCO and UN High Commissioner for Human Rights. The representative of UNESCO's Cairo Office presented a video of the Director-General of UNESCO, Irina Bokova, who highlighted the importance of freedom of expression for the society in its whole and the crucial role of free press during the periods of transition towards democracy.
Representatives of the Egyptian Labour Union, the Syndicate of Journalists and the Supreme Court as well as famous writers, journalists and media trainers discussed various subjects such as the upcoming role of new media after the revolution, the current legislation and new professional standards for journalists in Egypt.
Finally, a photo exhibition was held, presenting the work of famous photo reporters who took pictures during the Egyptian revolution. A book display was also organized to allow participants to discover the work of human rights organizations on freedom of expression, safety of journalists and media development. Some UNESCO publications were also displayed.
The United Nations General Assembly proclaimed World Press Freedom Day in 1993, following a recommendation adopted at the twenty-sixth session of UNESCO's General Conference in 1991. This year the global celebration of the Day took place in Washington DC, USA. The imprisoned Iranian journalist, Ahmad Zeidabadi, received the 2011 UNESCO/Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize, in tribute to his exceptional courage, resistance and commitment to freedom of expression, democracy and human rights.