CAIRO: Several journalists, opposition leaders and writers gathered Sunday at the headquarters of independent daily Al-Dostor in solidarity with the newspaper’s staff, amidst unconfirmed reports that co-owner Reda Edward has acquired Al-Sayed Al-Badawy’s shares in the newspaper.
“Even if this news is right, there is no big difference between Edward and Al-Badawy. Both have the same target and follow the same strategy,” Chief Executive Editor Ibrahim Mansour told Daily News Egypt.
Columnist and former TV host Hamdy Qandil agreed, saying, “It is not important who the owner is. What is important is his policy. And I believe that the current owners’ policy of Al-Dostor will not change in case Edward bought [Al-Badawy’s shares].”
“The main problem now is to guarantee the independence of the journalists…and the editorial policy without any interference on the owner’s part,” he added.
Egypt’s government, said Qandil, has recently been exerting pressure on the independent media, adding that the latest Al-Dostor dilemma was an “attempt by the regime to terminate the newspaper ahead of the parliamentary and presidential elections.”
Head of the March 9 Movement, a group of Cairo University professors, Mohamed Abul-Ghar believes that the current situation is also a bid to end all opposition voices. “It is not just about opposition voices. The regime aims to put an end [to the voices of] all Egyptians,” he said.
Edward has been the main party in the ongoing crisis between Al-Dostor management on the one hand, and the reporters, sacked editor-in-chief Ibrahim Eissa and executive chief editor Ibrahim Mansour on the other.
On Saturday, Al-Dostor’s staff issued a statement in response to Edward’s recent statements on Mehwar TV’s “90 Minutes,” which read: “Edward expressed commitment in front of the syndicate chairman and board to meet all the demands of the newspaper journalists that include forming a board in which [two journalists are members].”
“Four hours later, he appeared on a telephone interview on [the evening show] to criticize [us] saying that he would not allow ‘kids’ to be board members,” the statement added.
On Oct. 4, Eissa was sacked by the new management after an alleged disagreement between the two sides over publishing an article written by opposition leader ElBaradei commemorating the Oct. 6 victory.
Since then the management has been publishing issues of the newspaper without the journalists’ contributions though the staff report for duty daily at the paper’s Giza headquarters.
“We come here every day and spend the working hours inside the office. We are ready to work anytime. But the newspaper now has neither a board nor a chief editor,” journalist Hazem Fouad told Daily News Egypt.