Parliament voted to dismiss MP Samir Ghattas Monday, referring him to a disciplinary committee after accusing him of insulting the parliament and its speaker Ali Abdul Aal.
Abdul Aal designated Monday’s session for MPs to discuss and express their opinions regarding talk show programmes and freedom of expression.
According to state media, Ghattas continued discussing the issue after Abdul Aal ended the discussion, leading him to “raise his voice”. State media also reported that Abdul Aal denounced MPs’ appearances on talk show programmes, urging only “informed members” to appear on television.
Parliament sessions are no longer broadcast, after they were met with widespread criticism following the first two sessions, prompting members to vote to ban the broadcast.
Ghattas also reportedly disagreed with Abdul Aal’s statements, causing the latter to call for a vote to dismiss the former from the session. As Ghattas purportedly continued shouting, Abdul Aal decided to refer him to a disciplinary committee.
During the session, Abdul Aal said that while there are articles in the constitution that protect the right of free speech, he has recently observed that several talks show “harshly criticise” the parliament and its members, “which affects the performance of the whole institution.”
He added that the programmes handle issues from a singular point of view and do not provide the opportunity to present another narrative, while implying that the shows “insult state institutions”.
The parliament issued a statement saying “there is a clear difference between permissible political criticism, and the defamation and insulting of state institutions”.
Ghattas told Daily News Egypt that during the discussion three members were chosen by Abdel Aal to comment on freedom of speech in the media, all of whom supported Abdel Aal’s stance.
“I was dismissed because I interrupted Abdel Aal with an opposing view. However, another three members interrupted Abdel Aal with a supporting opinion, and weren’t dismissed,” Ghattas told Daily News Egypt.
There is a trend inside the parliament that aims to restrict freedoms, and there are attempts to marginalise the opposition in the parliament, Ghattas added.