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M A Y 2 0 1 2 / F O R E I G N S E R V I C E J O U R N A L
Still, it is the Muslim Brotherhood, not secular youth,
that constitutes the main force for change in Egypt,
writes Lucan Way of the University of Toronto in the Oc-
tober 2011
Journal of Democracy
. He cited the group’s
press for a March referendum on early elections, which
passed easily, despite opposition from new democratic
groups. “The young people who filled Cairo’s Tahrir
Square may know how to use Facebook, but the Broth-
erhood has a branch in every neighborhood and town,”
observes Way.
What to Watch For
After a breathtaking expansion of their freedoms, the
media in both Egypt and Tunisia are now tracking with the
unsteady advance of democracy in both countries. It
makes sense that countries still lacking administrative and
judiciary structures able — or willing — to implement
democratic laws, and subject to an extraordinary range of
outside broadcast sources, would view the new media cli-
mate with wariness.
While these societies sort themselves out, governments
that support a free press, international civil society and pro-
fessional media groups should offer the following:
An insistence on legal guidelines and safeguards for
licensing media under international norms;
A framework for indigenous journalists to create a
journalistic code of ethics for the whole array of emerging
online media, to build confidence and credibility; and
Pressure to shine a light on abuses such as those com-
mitted in connection with Egypt’s Maspero massacre.
This terrain will not be easy to navigate, to be sure.
Egypt’s crackdown on international nongovernmental or-
ganizations earlier this year reflects some of the sensitivity
to perceived outside meddling during a highly fraught po-
litical transition.
Ultimately, of course, it is up to the citizens of the Arab
states emerging from autocratic rule to decide whether
their extraordinary media awakening will prove a tempo-
rary phenomenon — or a beacon for broader economic
and political reforms.