President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi (Photo: Reuters)
Egypt's Journalists Syndicate defended on Monday the right of media workers to express views critical of authorities in the wake of President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi's accusation that media criticism of his performance was uncalled for and unprofessional.
"Constructive criticism is the way to build a state with justice and freedom regardless of how strong it is or its nature or the person who is being criticised," a statement issued by the syndicate read.
The syndicate added that the only way to reform the media performance in Egypt was through specific journalistic and media legislation.
In his speech on Sunday at an educational conference organised by the Egyptian armed forces in Cairo, El-Sisi criticised the media over its coverage of government performance in and respnse to various recent crises, most notably last week in Alexandria when floods left five dead and disrupted the daily life of millions.
"I heard a media personality saying that the president was holding talks with representatives of foreign companies while Alexandria was sinking. Speaking like that is totally unacceptable. We can't deal with our problems this way," he said, referring to TV host Khaled Abu Bakr who criticised him during the flooding in Alexandria.
According to the Journalists Syndicate statement, drafts of legislation to reform media and journalism in Egypt have been finalised. However, the statement added, more than three months have passed and they have not been approved or ratified.
"The way to adjust the media performance, to stop the defamation campaigns as well the attacks on personal lives where private personal calls are aired live on TV, is through legislations to organise media in Egypt," the statement said.
"The Journalists Syndicate calls on the president and the government to discuss and issue as soon as possible laws regulating media and journalism in Egypt."
Egypt's Journalists Syndicate also called on the government to approve a law which would give TV media workers the right to unionise.