CAIRO: Staff of disputed Islamic Resource Islam Online (IOL) are preparing to launch a new website after a two-month row between its employees and the website’s Qatari funders, according to Fathy Abu Hatab, former journalist at IOL.
“We will be launching very soon,” Abu Hatab told Daily News Egypt about the new project OnIslam.
The initiative is currently under construction, but a visit to the URL http://www.onislam.com/ provides readers with a glimpse into the nature of the project and links to a live blogpost set up by the employees at the start of the conflict.
Employees went on strike on March 15 in reaction to news of mass lay-offs. IOL staff members have also told the media that the strike was against the fact that the new management at Qatar’s Al-Balagh holding company wanted to impose a more conservative tone on the website’s progressive approach to editorial content.
However, Mohamed Badr El-Sada, one of IOL’s founders and current board member of Al-Balagh, previously told Daily News Egypt that the decision to terminate the contracts of employees at IOL’s office in Sixth of October City was part of a board decision to develop the website and not an attack on its progressive approach.
Meanwhile, on Sunday, employees called on Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani to interfere and ensure that IOL employees in Cairo receive their full salaries from the Qatari foundation.
They called on him to “protect Qatar’s international image.”
They also accused Al-Balagh members Ibrahim El-Ansary, Ali El-‘Emary and El-Sada of being behind payment delays.
According to Abu Hatab, employees have not received their full salaries for the month of April.
“To date, only some of us received 50-75 percent of our April pay. The managerial staff did not receive anything yet,” Abu Hatab said.
Last month, lawyer of IOL staff Yasser Fathy, representatives from Media International, the company under which IOL legally functioned in Egypt, and representatives from the Egyptian Ministry of Labor signed an agreement that stipulates that all employees wishing to resign will receive their severance packages while guaranteeing that those who decide to continue working will receive their monthly salaries on a regular basis.
As a result, IOL staff took the dispute to the World Labor Organization, accusing the Qatari administration and the Sixth of October office of the Egyptian Ministry of Labor of breaching terms of the agreement.
Meanwhile, the new website will take the form of an Initial Public Offering (IPO), inviting multiple shareholders in order to carry on with IOL’s message.
“Being a civil, non-profit, global media institution, OnIslam will have a universal scope and will join in partnerships with institutions of all forms (governmental or non-governmental; local, regional or institutional; civil ….), regardless of the country of origin or headquarter,” according to the website’s ‘Who we are’ description.