Censorship in the arts and media

Freedom of expression, which grants rights to creative and media agencies, is a societal right provided by international legislations as stated in Article 19 of the International Treaty of Civic and Political Rights and Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

In accordance with the above, consecutive Egyptian constitutions state that censorship should not be applied to publishing, media, and the arts. The recent Constitutional Declaration issued following the January 25 Revolution states in Article 13 that censorship should not be applied to media or the arts. However, as is the case with several constitutional articles, the article on censorship sets an exception to the rule which overrides everything that precedes it, allowing authorities to intervene (enforcing censorship) in the case of Emergency Law, wars, and exceptional circumstances.

Opponents of censorship believe that it limits creativity and threatens freedom of opinion and expression. They also object to granting a specific entity the right to pass judgment on works of art, as such a decision ultimately lies with the recipient. Also, censorship is a tool commonly used to control information and ideas that reach a governed people. Meanwhile, the surge in internet usage means that controlling the exchange of information and ideas has become more challenging.

People who favor censorship, however, believe that there should be an authority or entity that prevents abuse of freedoms. Such abuses could be harmful to both viewers and society as abolition of censorship would mean the unraveling of morals. According to this viewpoint, freedom is not absolute and one's right to freedom of expression does not mean that society does not have the right to protect itself.