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Egypt's information minister 'gaffe' causes social media uproar

Minister Salah Abdel-Maksoud gives another 'inappropriate' response to female journalist quizzing him on media freedom

Ahram Online , Wednesday 24 Apr 2013
Salah Abdel Maqsoud
Egypt's information minister Salah Abdel Maqsoud (Photo: AO)
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Egypt's Minister of Information Salah Abdel-Maksoud has once again caused a public uproar in both the Egyptian press and on social media sites, after more comments which critics describe as "inappropriate."

While discussing the latest developments in the media during a press conference Wednesday, Abdel-Maksoud got into a heated conversation with a female reporter over whether or not state television has changed since the January 25 Revolution.

The coverage of the state television is widely believed to be biased in favour of state authorities. When the reporter asked about the content aired on Egyptian television channels, the minister answered with the same comment that had drawn criticism against him last week.

"Come and I will show you where are the developments [of the state television]," he said to the Nahar television reporter, a phrasing that in Egyptian dialect is widely believed to bear sexual offence.

Abdel-Maksoud came under fire last week when a female Egyptian journalist accused him of harassment after he made the same comment in reply to a similar question. The conference was filmed and the slip-up was widely circulated via social media networks.

Prior to the two recent incidents, Abdel-Maksoud had been accused of sexually harassing a female Syrian television host during an interview. "I hope your questions are not as hot as you are," he said during the interview.

In Wednesday's conference, the minister spoke about how the revolution restored freedom of expression in Egypt, asserting that there are no restrictions on freedoms, especially the freedom of the media.

"For the first time in the history of the Egyptian constitution, newspapers are being licensed with more freedom," said Abdel-Maksoud, who also denied that the ministry was thinking about renting out the national television and radio building known as Maspero.

The minister also spoke about the salaries of national television and radio employees, denying rumours that there would be salary cuts. "Egypt is a rich country…and we did not borrow to pay for the salaries,” he said.

This week thousands of national television and radio employees protested against the minister, demanding his dismissal. The employees protested new wage scales and what they claim are ministry-imposed restrictions on coverage.

"I hope to be the last minister of information in Egypt; I pray to God to be so," said Abdel-Maksoud, referencing the many calls since the ousting of Mubarak in 2011 to get rid of the post.

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