Scores of Egyptian journalists
Scores of Egyptian journalists on Monday October 16, 2006, demonstrated in protest of closure of their newspaper Afaq Arabeya, a pro Muslim Brotherhood which is also one of Al Ahrar party press publications. In front of the Cairo- based Journalists Union premises, the journalists stood to sell greengroceries, bread and soft drinks as a message to the government that they are jobless now and o they will have to find another job even if they go hawkers in the street. The tragedy started in March of this year when the Afaq Arabeya Board Chairman Mahmoud Ateyya , an Ahrar party figure, asked AlAhram establishment to stop printing the newspaper against the background of his disputes with the uslim Brotherhood. The journalists say that Ateyya may have taken a green light from the authorities which seek to silence any pro Muslim Brotherhood voice .
The Journalists Union had earlier months ago asked Ateyya to allow the printing of the newspaper, but after four issues he stopped it once again. As a result, he faced a disciplinary action on the part of Union due to closing the paper without legal justifications.
Head of Board of Editors within the paper Abdul Hakim el Shami said that they hope their emonstration bear fruit, lamenting that they had their sunset breakfast in the street in front of the Journalist Union .” We don’t oppose the policy of editorship.
All that we demand is that the newspaper come back to light once again and our wages continue” he added, decrying silence of the Higher Press Council which has not adopted any position to put an end to this crisis.
Al Shamy pointed out that the crisis of Afaq Arabeya editors is attributed to their Islamist orientation which is rejected by the government .
“ The Union has once given us a one -month salary, then it has left us to the unknown”, said Ahmed Ibrahim the editor with the same newspaper, adding that “ we are torn between the Union and the Council and neither of them is able to find us a solution”.
According to Ibrahim, they are 70 journalists and all of them are family men who have no other source of living.
It is noted that the Higher Press Council is affiliated to the Shura Council ( the Upper House) which is dominated by the ruling National Democratic Party(NDP). Afaq Arabeya was first issued about 12 years ago and it is one of the publications of Al Ahrar Party which emerged first with the return of the
multiparty system in 1977. Al Ahrar issues a daily paper and several other weekly and periodical ones which differ in policies according to the trends of their editors in chief.