Egyptian authorities seize Al-Bawabah newspaper for second day running

Ahram Online , Tuesday 11 Apr 2017

Abdel-Rehiem Ali
Member of Parliament and Editor in Chief of Al-Bawaba Newspaper Abdel Rehim Aly (Photo: Ahram)

Egyptian authorities confiscated the print run of Al-Bawaba newspaper for the second day running on Tuesday due to their take on the suicide bombing of two Coptic Orthodox churches on Sunday, after the newspaper pointed to an alleged “security lapse" in relation to the attacks and blamed the interior minister.

The twin bombings in Alexandria and the Delta city of Tanta left 46 people dead and over 100 injured as Christian worshipers gathered for Palm Sunday services.

The deadliest attack against Christians in the country's recent memory prompted President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi to declare a state of emergency on Sunday night "upon completion of legal and constitutional procedures," providing the state with exceptional powers, including more powers to control the media.

"The two issues of Al-Bawaba newspaper of Monday and Tuesday have been withdrawn from the print house upon the orders of the authorities," said editor-in-chief Abdel-Rehim Ali, speaking to parliamentary reporters on Monday.

"Is the interior minister above questioning and criticism or even being sacked? This is unbelievable. I was asked to withdraw the article criticizing the interior minister or the newspaper would be confiscated," said the editor.

Ali, who is member of Egypt's parliament, also criticized the cabinet's approval of the state of emergency without a vote by parliament, in what he called "a clear violation to the country's constitution."

According to the Egyptian constitution, any state of emergency must be confirmed in parliament by majority vote within seven days of its declaration by the president. The Egyptian parliament is set to vote on the state of emergency on Tuesday.

Parliament has cancelled a Monday session with the ministers of interior and justice to deal with the deadly bombings.

"I said in the newspaper that there is a security lapse that should require the questioning of the minister of interior. What is wrong with that? I will continue to say that over and over, and will continue to hold him accountable for security lapses that resulted in the attacks," the editor said.

A statement on the newspaper's website on Monday night said it was shocked by the seizure of its print run for the second consecutive day, describing the step as dangerous and threatening, not only to the freedom of the press but also to democracy and freedom in general.

"The newspaper respects the country's constitutional institutions and national unity, and will continue doing its job for the sake of freedom of the press and expression," the statement concluded.

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