The Al-Dostour crisis

The Al-Dostour crisis

Al-Dostour’s recently dismissed chief editor, Ibrahim Eissa, was not fired due to ordinary disputes over administrative or editorial issues. The decision to remove Eissa was without a doubt political.

Eissa had a good relationship with Al-Dostour’s former owner, Essam Ismail Fahmy. The result was a paper that had a unique flair to it, irrespective of whether one agreed or disagreed with its editorial line. Yet it was not possible to maintain such an amicable relationship with the paper’s new owner, Wafd Party leader al-Sayed al-Badawy, for several reasons.

First, the sale of Al-Dostour to a partisan owner came amidst extremely sensitive political circumstances, with a regime that wants to bequeath power to the president’s son, and an opposition that wants to change the rules of the political game in the lead-up to the parliamentary elections next month and presidential elections next year.

Second, al-Badawy’s Wafd Party has recently decided to participate in the People’s Assembly elections in November without first securing guarantees from the government that the vote will be free and fair. This has prompted many to suspect the party struck a secret deal with the regime to win more seats in parliament.

Third, al-Badawy took over Al-Dostour at a time when the regime is attacking opposition movements, with the help of official parties, especially the Wafd.

The Al-Dostour case raises many questions about the role of the Wafd Party and its leader within the broader Egyptian opposition movement. Why did al-Badawy decide to buy an independent newspaper while he had the strenuous task of rebuilding his party? And if he bought it as a businessman, not as a party leader, why did he clash with the chief editor so soon? Does al-Badawy not know that the only one who stands to benefit from the sacking of a valiant opposition figure like Eissa is the regime itself? Why then would the Wafd leader decide to do such a thing?