|Al-Ahram Weekly Online
28 June - 4 July 2001
|Published in Cairo by AL-AHRAM established in 1875||Current issue | Previous issue | Site map|
The scandal unleashed by Al-Nabaa newspaper is the first of its kind in many decades. That a newspaper should publish pornographic pictures involving a monk and his sexual partners points to a major shift of perspective in the way the press conceives of its role; it also indicates that significant transformations have occurred in the structure, politics and values of journalism and society at large. Liberating the press evidently implies an abuse of journalists' newly acquired freedoms, and their willingness to blackmail businessmen and officials.
Perhaps the vulgar defamation to which, in their eagerness to achieve greater sales, "independent" and "private" newspapers now descend, signals a resurgence of the ruthlessly graphic and often exploitative tabloid journalism invading even the national press. It also shows professional incompetence and a supreme disregard for the law. Crucially, it implies that, in the absence of accurate information and useful commentary, readers are increasingly willing to see their social values and models -- Christian monks, for example -- attacked in such a tasteless way. Is society coming apart?
When over 1,000 young Copts demonstrated in protest, they shifted the emphasis of the issue from religion and politics to religion and society. The incident uncovered a remarkable degree of social, rather than political, strife. And it is up to those who count themselves responsible for the task to undertake an adequate analysis of the erratic, fundamental shifts now taking place.
* This week's Soapbox speaker is assistant director of the Al-Ahram Centre for Political and Strategic Studies and editor of The Report on the State of Religion in Egypt.
Recommend this page© Copyright Al-Ahram Weekly. All rights reserved
Letter from the Editor
|WEEKLY ONLINE: www.ahram.org.eg/weekly
Updated every Saturday at 11.00 GMT, 2pm local time