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Most of my entries – well, all of my entries – have been coloured by automatically pessimistic views of the…

By Heba Elasaad , in Arab press making the news Blogs , on February 12, 2008

Most of my entries – well, all of my entries – have been coloured by automatically pessimistic views of the progress, or lack thereof, in the way of press freedoms in the Arab World.

I’m happy to say this won’t be. Well…

Apparently Egypt has dropped a jail term that was shamefully handed down to an Al Jazeera producer for running a story filmed without a proper license.

The filmmaker, documentarian Howaida Taha, completely denies it, claiming she had received authorization from the Ministry of Interior, and not surprisingly, the subject of the piece in question, the marginalized and poor population of a Cairo neighborhood, wasn’t the most flattering for Egypt.

The critical approach also wasn’t a first for the journalist.

At the time of the conviction, she was in the process of fighting another jail sentence she was given earlier for ‘fabricating’ footage.

And by fabricated video, they’re referring to reconstructed scenes of torture committed by Egyptian police that Taha used for her Al Jazeera piece, “Beyond the Sun,” aired back in April.

A quick, contextualizing side note: Egyptian authorities adamantly deny claims of the systematic torture human rights organizations charge them with, but there are a number of documented investigations and convictions that seem to say otherwise.

This time around, Taha was still found guilty of hurting the country’s reputation again and spreading “false news,” for which she was sentenced to six months in jail, along with 20,000 Egyptian pounds in fines. She will only have to deal with the latter.

I know this is essentially representative of yet another part of the string of unwarranted jail terms being thrown at government-offending journalists in the North African nation, but it’s difficult not to feel even the slightest bit more optimistic.

There aren’t many moments and I’m going to try to take advantage of this one.