Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood Moves To Control Newspapers


Israeli media is reporting on efforts by the  Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood to control the country’s governmental media. The article begins

Aug.09, 2012 | 9:44 PM The mood is turbulent on Al-Galaa Street in Cairo, especially in the skyscraper that is home to the government’s flagship newspaper, Al-Ahram. Fierce controversy erupted on Wednesday when the committee selecting new editors for the government media decided to appoint Abdel Nasser Salama as the newspaper’s new editor-in-chief. The appointment received President Mohammed Morsi’s blessing and some of the paper’s journalists welcomed the new editor, but dozens of others began a sit-in strike on Thursday protesting the move. The protesters say that the highly experienced Salama, who wrote against the revolution in its early days, actually represents the old regime; he is no more than a ‘pen for hire’ and will fail to revive the government press. Al-Ahram journalists aren’t the only ones concerned about the move. Last Wednesday’s decision to appoint 53 new editors angered the current editors, members of the Supreme Press Council, the 7,000-member journalists’ union and protest activists. They view the decision as another step in the Muslim Brotherhood’s attempt to take over the press, following the appointment of Brotherhood activist Salah Abdel Maqsoud as the country’s new information minister. The new appointees are not solely Brotherhood-supporting journalists; as a matter of fact, most of them are rather veteran and relatively unknown journalists. Still, all of the new editors will undoubtedly be indebted to those who appointed them, even if they themselves aren’t Brotherhood supporters. The five large publishing houses, which print dozens of newspapers and periodicals, were nationalized in 1960, as part of Gamal Abdel Nasser’s drive to dictate the public discourse and set the limits of information the public is allowed to get. President Anwar Sadat continued this policy, but allowed the publication of party newspapers when he allowed new parties to become openly active. Print journalism enjoyed a renaissance of sorts under Mubarak, when dozens of new newspapers, mostly unregistered, flooded the streets and breached censorship rules.

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In a related story, AP is reporting that an Egyptian court has ordered the Saturday editions of a private newspaper confiscated over allegations it insulted president  Morsi and “instigated sectarian discord.” According to the report:

 CAIRO—An Egyptian court ordered the Saturday editions of a newspaper confiscated over allegations it insulted Islamist president Mohammed Morsi and instigated sectarian discord, Egypt’s official news agency said. Editions of Al-Dustour, a privately owned daily, were seized after several individuals filed lawsuits accusing it of ‘fueling sedition’ and ‘harming the president through phrases and wording punishable by law,’ MENA said. It was not clear whether the paper was barred from publishing completely. Newspaper al-Masry al-Youm said authorities have removed al-Dustour from newsstands. The paper, a tabloid owned by a Christian businessman, has been fiercely critical of Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood while showing strong support for the military council, which took power after the ouster of Hosni Mubarak in last year’s uprising. Both Morsi and the military council are in midst of power struggle. Saturday’s edition featured a lengthy front-page article warning of a Brotherhood ’emirate’ seizing Egypt and calling on Egyptians to join ranks with the military to confront Islamists. The lawsuits also accuse the paper of inflammatory coverage of recent sectarian violence. Several days earlier, a TV network was ordered off the air over allegations it suggested the killing of Morsi. The network, el-Faraeen, broadcasts populist talk show host Tawfiq Okasha, a former Mubarak loyalist who regularly expresses enmity toward the revolution and the Muslim Brotherhood on his show. The Muslim Brotherhood, the country’s most influential Islamic political group, came under heavy criticism after its lawmakers, packed in the parliament’s upper house, moved to replace chief editors of Egypt’s state-run newspapers. On Thursday, journalists staged small protests and columnists left their columns blank in protest of attempts by the Brotherhood to control the papers instead of reforming them.

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