CAIRO: A few dozen journalists for the daily independent newspaper Al-Dostor gathered on Monday outside the Higher Press Council’s headquarters in downtown Cairo to protest against the procrastination of the new owner in meeting their demands.
“We are here today to protest against the current situation in Al-Dostor,” journalist Khalil El-Meliesy told Daily News Egypt. “What is going on is nothing but a political scheme against Al-Dostor.”
The newspaper staff had earlier accused the chairman of the Higher Press Council Safwat El-Sherif, also the secretary general of the ruling National Democratic Party and the Shoura Council speaker, of being standing behind the current Al-Dostor crisis.
“El-Sherif is the [mastermind] behind the whole situation,” claimed journalist Shady Eissa.
“We [could recognize] the [scheme] and that it is a predetermined intention to end Al-Dostor,” journalist Mahmoud Fawzy noted.
No official from the Higher Press Council showed up to meet the protesting journalists.
Following the demonstration, the protesters headed to the Journalists’ Syndicate to resume their open strike, which began on Oct. 12.
On Saturday, Reda Edward — Al-Dostor owner and Al-Wafd party member — reportedly showed up at the front door of syndicate chairman Makram Mohamed Ahmed’s office, requesting to meet him.
However, Ahmed refused to receive Edward without a scheduled appointment.
A meeting, which would have included Al-Dostor’s journalists, was scheduled for Sunday, but Edward did not show up. He later apologized to Ahmed over the phone citing his rejection of some of the journalists’ demands.
Edward said that he agreed with the journalists’ nine demands; except for the one pertaining to the return of sacked editor-in-chief Ibrahim Eissa and executive chief editor Ibrahim Mansour.
Edward also objected to the journalists’ request to be represented on the board by at least two of their colleagues. The journalists also demanded that the newspaper’s management not interfere with its editorial policy.
Eissa, an outspoken critic of the current regime, was fired approximately one month after the paper come under the ownership of Al-Wafd party head Al-Sayed Al-Badawy and Edward, who is also the chairman of a chain of international schools.
A few days after Eissa was fired, Al-Badawy sold his shares in the newspaper to Edward. Al-Badawy frequently said in media statements that he was not behind Eissa’s job termination.
In several media interviews, Eissa alleged said that the new management frequently interfered in the editorial policy, which stirred tension between the two parties.
The staff members of the newspaper were quick to voice their full support for the newspaper’s editors.
Since the crisis began, the new management has been publishing the newspaper from an outside location without any input from Al-Dostor’s staff reporters. These issues have been published despite the lack of a chief editor in charge of running the newspaper.
“This is [probably] the first time in the history of … the Egyptian press that a newspaper is [being] published without a chief editor,” journalist Samy El-Hindi said.