Building peace in the minds of men and women

Supporting community radios in Egypt

A national workshop on community radios was organized by the UNESCO Cairo Office and the Cairo-based Andalus Institute for Tolerance and Anti-Violence Studies on 16 September 2013 in Cairo. Participants included a number of community media workers from various governorates around the country and representatives of some European embassies, the Andalus Institute and the UNESCO Cairo Office.

The workshop on 16 September was one in the series of events that UNESCO has organized in Cairo to promote community media and to provide information about this topic to local stakeholders. Similar projects have been undertaken with the Egyptian independent media organization, Hoqook.

The event aimed to strengthen the rights of community media workers – especially in the peripheral areas. According to the General Director of Andalus Institute for Tolerance and Anti-Violence Studies, Ahmed Samih, “people outside Cairo do not have a chance to express themselves in the media”.

The workshop resulted in a set of recommendations aiming to legalize the status of internet radios in a way that protects against governmental interference and shutdowns. Participants stressed that freedom of expression, freedom of information and freedom of the press ought to be incorporated in the constitution. They also urged the government to abandon its monopoly on FM radio waves and to adopt more of a regulatory role.

The recommendations presented by the Andalus Institute come at an important time, as a constitution is yet to be written and government elections are expected to be held in 2014. It was therefore suggested that the workshop recommendations should be presented to the Constitution Amendment Committee.

Marius Lukosiunas, Adviser for Communication and Information at the UNESCO Cairo Office, made a presentation on international and UNESCO standards on community media, as well as on the Office activities related to this topic. Last year, the Cairo Office had supported a publication providing media community and decision makers with a legal study on a possible introduction of community media into the Egyptian regulatory framework, as well as with best practices of community media systems around the world. As a consequence of these efforts, a network of organizations and individuals interested in the legislation enabling community media development has been created in Egypt.