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In Egypt, unlike nearly every other Arab country, the press enjoys periods of freedom along with more-common periods of repression.

A period of freedom is happening right now, during the first 100 days of President Hosni Mubarak, says an influential editor for al-Akbar newspaper. ''I have been able to write what I want without anybody taking anything out,'' the editor says. ''It is a better time than 1974-1976, when we had real freedom under Anwar Sadat. Even then you could not touch subjects like the (Gamel Abdel) Nasser dictatorship and the Muslim brotherhood.''

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Nonetheless, there appears no prospect that the two state-controlled TV channels and three dailies will be returned to private ownership. But this editor believes that when Egypt regains the rest of Sinai April 25 it will bring ''a new era'' under which Mubarak may allow more diversity of editorial opinion, especially in the area of foreign policy.m

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