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Tuesday, 26 January 2021

Egypt MP Mortada Mansour opens fire on journalists who 'defame parliament'

The independent MP Mortada Mansour requested that MPs be authorised to file lawsuits against journalists who 'tarnish MPs'

Gamal Essam El-Din , Wednesday 20 Jan 2016
Mortada Mansour
Parliamentarian Mortada Mansour (Photo: Al Ahram)
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In a morning debate on Wednesday, the flamboyant independent MP Mortada Mansour fiercely attacked journalists and the local media, accusing them of doing their best to tarnish the image of the new parliament.

Mansour asked parliament speaker Ali Abdel-Al and other leading MPs that the House's new internal bylaws be amended to give MPs the right to file lawsuits against journalists accused of defaming parliament or covering parliament's news in "derogatory" terms.

"There is a concerted hostile campaign against Egypt's new parliament on the side of the local media," he claimed.

"In their smear campaigns,  journalists went as far as describing parliament as "the House of the Mad People"  or The House of the Hashasheen," said Mansour, warning that "if parliament did not move quickly to protect its reputation and honour, we all would leave this place."

Mansour also insisted that the armed forces and the police cannot be a subject of smear campaigns by the media.

Mansour referred to a local newspaper which seized its issue on Wednesday to accuse speaker deputy El-Sayed El-Sherif of exercising rigging practices.

"Today they accuse us of rigging without any evidence and I do not know what they will do tomorrow," said Mansour.

Mansour also lashed out at young leftist MPs - led by Alexandria's deputy Haitham El-Hariri - portraying them as "parliamentary novices."

El-Hariri and other leftist MPs distributed leaflets among deputies this morning, urging them to reject the new Civil Service Law, accusing it of doing a lot of injustice to state employees.

According to Mansour, "we are not here in a metro car or in a student union to have these leaflets and I think that the right place for this leaflet is to be dumped into trash cans."

Joining forces, speaker Abdel-Al said "Mansour's statement should ring alarm bells about journalists who deliberately aim to tarnish the image of parliament and deputies and that there should be a serious stand against this." \

"While the media and journalists are independent and have complete freedoms in accordance with the new constitution, they at the same time are urged to exercise these freedoms responsibly," said Abdel-Al.

"I met with parliamentary journalists and I told them you have the right to cover parliament's news freely, but also wisely and responsibly," Abdel-Al said.

Abdel-Al rejected any distribution of leaflets among MPs, describing the measure as directing an insult to parliament and representing a constitutional offence.

Many MPs joined chorus with Mansour, asking Abdel-Al to take a firm stand against journalists.

Fathi Qandil, an independent MP, said "asking journalists to exercise their rights freely will not solve the problem with these journalists who are doing their best to defame parliament."

Abdel-Al, however, insisted that "he as speaker is in charge of protecting the reputation of MPs, but all should remember that we took an oath of respecting the constitution which states that freedom of the press must be respected."

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