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Friday, 13 December 2019

El-Sisi puts Aida Seoudi back on air after she criticised Mubarak acquittal

Head of state radio channel was suspended after she denounced Saturday's acquittal of former president Hosni Mubarak

Marina Barsoum , Wednesday 3 Dec 2014
Aida Seoudi
Aida Seoudi Head of radio hits (Photo: facebook.com/aida.seoudy.3)
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Aida Seoudi, head of Radio Hits, an Egyptian state radio channel, has returned to work following a suspension for criticising last week's acquittal of Hosni Mubarak, thanks to an intervention from the president.

On Saturday, a Cairo criminal court dropped charges against Mubarak over responsibility in the killing of protesters during the January 2011 uprising which ended his 30-year rule, and cleared him on corruption charges. His interior minister Habib El-Adly and six of his aides were also cleared in the murder case. Mubarak two sons, Gamal and Alaa, were also acquitted on corruption charges.

While some Mubarak supporters celebrated, the verdict drew criticism from political groups and sparked protests near Tahrir Square in central Cairo, the epicentre of the revolt where hundreds of demonstrators died.

Seoudi began her episode on Radio Hits on Sunday by expressing her deep sorrow over the acquittals.

"I am not commenting on the court verdicts," she said. "However, I believe as some people are celebrating the acquittal of the former president, it is my right as an anchor in the national media to show sadness and support with the people who were injured and the martyr's families without holding anyone accountable."

She criticised the police crackdown against the protests that broke out after the verdicts were announced, in which two died and 72 were arrested. Most of the detainees have since been released.

A controversial protest law was passed in late 2013 banning all but police-sanctioned demonstrations and which has been used to put thousands in jail.

"If you are going to ban one gathering, you have to ban all gatherings," Seoudi said.

The next day, Seoudi was told she had been suspended from her position as anchor and as the head of Radio Hits.

But late on Tuesday, Essam El-Amir, head of Egyptian Television and Radio, informed Seoudi that President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi had ordered for her to return to her position.

El-Sisi's decision came after a meeting with youth journalists on Tuesday in which they raised Seoudi's issue.

On her personal Facebook page, Seoudi sounded optimistic after her suspension was lifted, citing "people's support on Facebook and Twitter" for her return to work.

She referred to the event as "a small battle" fought by many, who must see it "until the end, believing in our rights and strength."

Egypt's media has recently been slammed by national and international organisations for curbing dissenting views. In November a report by the Association for Freedom of Thought and Expression, an Egyptian NGO that monitors the performance of both state-owned and private media, criticised what it described as a lack of "independence and defective professionalism" of Egypt's media.

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