Joining a number of recent protests that have plagued the privately-run Al-Masry Al-Youm newspaper recently, three journalists staged a sit-in inside the newspaper’s headquarters on Sunday to protest their arbitrary transfer by the administration to the Alexandria office.
The three journalists consider their transfer to be part of a strategy being used by the newspaper to “get rid of them”, according to Al-Masry Al-Youm journalists who spoke to Daily News Egypt on condition of anonymity.
The Front for Defending Journalists and Freedoms called for journalists to participate in a Wednesday protest in front of the Press Syndicate to show solidarity with the three journalists.
The journalists protesting their transfer issued a statement in which they requested their case be settled immediately and that the administration issue their annual bonuses.
The Press Syndicate asked Al-Masry Al-Youm on Sunday to cancel the transfer decision. The syndicate said that it had received promises from the newspaper’s administration that the transfers would be canceled, according to a statement.
In the statement, the syndicate said that the way the newspaper is handling the journalists is part of a strategy that compromises the journalists’ rights.
“The administration’s strategy for dealing with journalists has resulted in arbitrary suspensions of a number of journalists, which is a clear violation of the Labour Law and journalism ethics,” said the Press Syndicate’s statements.
In October, dozens of journalists from Al-Masry Al-Youm held a strike in protest against the arbitrary suspension of several journalists from the institution.
The journalists were suspended after Al-Masry Al-Youm cancelled their contracts, supplementing their work with new contracts with freelance journalists. At the time, the newspaper said that they were not committed to paying the journalists’ insurance or providing recommendations according to statements by a journalist who spoke on condition of anonymity.
The Press Syndicate has announced full solidarity with the suspended journalists, saying that they have every right to take legal action to defend their rights. The syndicate also urged the newspaper’s administration to refrain from taking any unexplained or unwarranted actions against the journalists.
Al-Masry Al-Youm has a long history of suspending journalists without reason. In April, a group of journalists were also suspended from the newspaper. Following a series of escalations by the suspended journalists, the administration backtracked from the suspension decision a few weeks later.
The suspension of journalists from institutions is not unprecedented in Egypt. In July, privately-owned online news outlet Dotmsr suspended 85 journalists without informing them of the reasons behind their dismissal.