• July 10, 2006
  • 5 minutes read

Newspapers Strike In Protest of Publication Law

Newspapers Strike In Protest of Publication Law

About 25 daily and weekly newspapers ceased publication Sunday July 9, 2006, in protest of the government’s bill on amendments of publication law. Journalists see that these amendments give the lie to the President’s promise to rescind the laws of imprisonment and  tough financial penalties on publication materials, calling also for  repealing any articles protecting the corrupts or posing a threat to journalists . 

The Press Syndicate ,which is staging a sit in for the fifth successive day,  called on the journalists to show up at the Parliament premises to voice their rejection of the bill which, if enacted, will have a serious impact on them. Some of the Press Syndicate members are to lodge libel cases against members from the ruling National Party, with the opposition and independent front  considering withdrawal from the sessions where the bill will be discussed if  the majority rejects introducing amendments to the government bill. 

In its attempts to ensure the majority required to have the bill passed, the ruling NDP issued  strict restrictions to its deputies to attend the parliament sessions related to this bill  to secure the majority needed for endorsing it,  while the opposition and independent MPs dig in to abort it. However, parliamentary sources suggest that the door is still open for introducing amendments to the bill before it is endorsed, with the aim to contain the crisis. 

The government is opinionated about the imprisonment and financial penalties for the publication materials to prevent the press from publishing stories of corruption and corrupts. This showed clearly in the crisis that escalated between the NDP deputies and journalists hours before discussing the bill in the parliament after the Press Syndicate Board threatened to release a blacklist of the deputies who vote in favor of the bill. PA speaker Dr. Fatehi Sorour countered that article 99 of the Penal Code provides for harsh or life sentences against those who threaten MPs. 

The Press Syndicate also called on the Two Houses deputies to support the free press and reject the government bill, affirming that it will continue to hold fast to its bill and reject the government one, saying that the latter doesn’t meet the minimum demands of the journalists as far as the free expression is concerned. It warned that the articles of the government bill, besides restricting freedom, serves as a safe haven for the corrupts who will be reassured to be immune against accountability.

 In an exclusive statement to Ikhwanweb, Chairman of MB Parliamentary Bloc Dr. Saad el Katatny cast doubts on the government seriousness to launch a political reform, citing the recently concocted Judiciary bill with its flaws and the disputed and infamous law on publication which the government now seeks to have it enacted. Al Katatny added that the amendments suggested by the government proved disappointing to the Egyptian people, lamenting that all the laws are passed in the absence of the quarters concerned. An Ikhwan MP who is also a journalist, Mohsen Radhi, told Ikhwanweb that he strongly opposes ten items in this bill, saying that these laws only existed in the days of occupation and were taken from Napoleon and Mussolini’s freedom restricting laws. Radhi called for the repealing of such laws, adding that the President’s promise is unequivocally clear but the government circumvented it, demanding the repealing of the harsh punishments included in the law, which are against international laws and norms.