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Egyptian proposal to protect formal Arabic has journalists worried

Critics say a draft law intended to preserve traditional, formal Arabic and discourage the use of the modern Egyptian dialect threatens the freedom of the press.

CAIRO — Egypt's parliament is considering a proposal that could see the nation's already-beleaguered journalists jailed for using informal Arabic in their published work.

The proposal, introduced in October by the Arabic Language Academy in Cairo, is designed to preserve the language. It would require formal Arabic to be used in virtually all aspects of Egyptian life, including but certainly not limited to the media; all correspondence and documents of federal and local governments and all official ministries; civil service organizations and private clubs; trademarks, commodity labels and commercial data; street signs; artistic installations; all educational institutions; and discussions and presentations at symposiums, conferences, workshops and other meetings. 

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