Egypt columnists protest chief editor appointments in state owned papers

Reuters , Thursday 9 Aug 2012

In an escalation of tension between journalists and the Shura Council in Egypt, several regular writers leave their columns blank in protest against what they see as the latter's unjustified powers

Salmawy column
Mohamed Salmawy, former chief editor of Al-Ahram Hebdo, leaves his Masry Al Youm column blank in protest against MB attempt to take over state owned press

Several Egyptian writers and journalists left their columns blank Thursday in independent newspapers, protesting what they considered an attempt from the Muslim Brotherhood to control state owned newspapers and publications.

In Al-Tahrir independent newspaper, famed pro-revolution columnist Omar Taher left his daily column blank, writing one phrase only: "Leaving the column blank to protest the interference of the Shura Council in choosing national editors-in-chief in Egypt."

Gamal Fahmy, another well known writer and secretary general of the Journalists' Syndicate, who also writes in Al-Tahrir newspaper, left his column blank too. "This space is blank to protest the hereditary system that did not fall with the ousting of Mubarak and his son. It seems that the Muslim Brotherhood is trying to revive it after it was blinded by arrogance. This protest is against their control of the public owned media," said Fahmy in his column.

Magdy El-Gald, editor-in-chief of Al-Watan independent newspaper left his column blank Thursday except for the, "This space is left blank to object the attempts of the Muslim Brotherhood to control national press and publicly owned media institutions just like the ousted president used to do."

Several writers in Al-Watan newspaper joined El-Gald and left their columns empty, like Moatez Abdel Fatah, Ammar Ali Hassan, Khairy Ramadan and Amr Hamzawy.

Several columnists in the independent Youm 7 daily newspaper also left their columns blank, like Karm Gabr, who only wrote: "To protest the attempts of Muslim Brotherhood to take over the press and media."

Journalist and former MP Mostafa Bakry has resigned from the Supreme Council of Press to object the latest appointments of editors in chief. In his resignation to Ahmed Fahmy, head of the Supreme Council of Press and member of the Shura Council, and a Muslim Brotherhood and Freedom and Justice Party member, Bakry said he could not continue while the Muslim Brotherhood sought to monopolise the media in Egypt.

On Wednesday, the Shura Council announced the names of editors-in-chief of state owned publications. Many journalists reject that the Shura Council hold power of appointment of such head positions, believing this was abused by the ruling party in the past to control the state owned media.

A number of editors-in-chief from official, partisan and independent newspapers called on columnists Tuesday to leave their columns blank to object the appointments.

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