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Egypt journalists ‘continue battle for dignity, but open to solutions,’ says press syndicate head

'The union's battle for dignity is inseparable from the battle for press freedom,' syndicate head Yehia Kalash said at a meeting convened to discuss the ongoing dispute with the interior ministry

Ahram Online , Wednesday 18 May 2016
Egypt journalists (Lina wardany)
Yehia Kalash speaking at Egypt journalists Union meeting 18 May, 2016 (Lina wardany)

Hundreds of journalists attended on Wednesday a meeting at Egypt's press syndicate in Cairo to discuss its ongoing dispute with the interior ministry, with union chief Yehia Kalash assuring that journalists would "complete the battle for dignity, while being open to solutions."

The row erupted on 1 May when police stormed the syndicate premises and arrested two journalists, sparking public outrage and prompting journalists to hold sit-ins inside the building.

The two were arrested for allegedly “publishing false news” and “plotting to overthrow the regime.”

Kalash repeatedly stressed during Wednesday's meeting that the syndicate supports "the force of law, but is against the law of force."

"The union's battle for dignity is inseparable from the battle for press freedom,” said Kalash, calling for the abolition of jail terms for publishing-related offences.

He added that journalists have seen the first step towards achieving this goal in the recent passing of a unified press law by the cabinet.

He also called on journalists to maintain unity in the fight for press freedom.

Ahead of the Wednesday meeting, more than 300 journalists handed a formal request to union asking the board to call a general assembly meeting, where instructions issued to news outlets by the syndicate on 4 May would be made mandatory.

Days after the attack on the syndicate, more than 2,000 journalists rallied for an urgent meeting at the syndicate headquarters, adopting a list of measures and demands in protest against the unprecedented raid.

The syndicate instructed news outlets to protest against a gag order on publishing un the case of the arrest of the two journalists, Amr Badr and Mahmoud El-Sakka from inside the syndicate building

The Syndicate also called for the sacking of the interior minister.

The quorum for a general assembly – where the protest measures can be made mandatory – requires the presence of 25 percent the 8,000 syndicate members with voting rights.

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