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El-Masry El-Youm owner backtracks on outlet’s position in ministry row

The daily paper's owner has, for the first time in over 12 years, addressed readers to criticise his own paper's coverage of the ongoing row between the press and police

Ayat Al Tawy , Thursday 12 May 2016
Salah Diab
Al-Masry Al-Youm founder Salah Diab (Photo: Al-Ahram)
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The owner of Egypt's independent El-Masry El-Youm daily criticised his own paper's take on the recent crisis between journalists and the interior ministry that was triggered by a police raid on their union earlier this month.

In a first since the daily's founding over 12 years ago, Salah Deyab wrote an editorial where he criticised the newspaper's “political coverage” of the ongoing row between journalists and police.

"I believe El-Masry El-Youm has deviated from its [founding] principles of independence and professionalism in following up on the recent crisis between the press syndicate and the interior ministry," read the front-page editorial in Thursday's print edition.

Earlier this month, police raided the syndicate in downtown Cairo and arrested two journalists, a move that sparked outrage among media outlets.

The two journalists are accused of “publishing false news” and “inciting to overthrow the regime.”

A general meeting held days later by the union and attended by over 2,000 journalists resulted in a list of demands at the head of which was the dismissal of the interior minister.

El-Masry El-Youm’s chief editor, Mohamed El-Sayed Saleh, said his paper would abide by the union's demands and wrote an editorial last week addressing President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi in which he denounced the raid and attacks on journalists.

Deyab, however, said the paper has "taken political positions not at the core of its work or professionalism" by demanding the dismissal of the interior minister and an official apology from the presidency.

"The paper intertwined with the syndicate, adopting its stances entirely without criticism and based its editorial stances on one side."

The paper's online edition has, until today, run a slogan at the website's header reading "No to gag order…No to restricting Journalism," in accordance with one of the decisions by the syndicate referring to a prosecutorial gag order into publishing news about the journalists’ arrest.

A logo bearing the same slogan had been emblazoned on its print edition for several days following the meeting, but has since been removed.

The paper’s website also ran camera negative photos of the interior minister, as did numerous outlets in the country, in a sign of protest.

Deyab concluded his column by vowing not to repeat the paper's “mistake.”

"El-Masry El-Youm holding onto its independence and professionalism is required today more than any time before."

Local media on Thursday quoted Deyab as saying that he "has not been subjected to any pressure" from authorities to backtrack on his paper's position.

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