House speaker urges press not to boycott Egypt parliament news

Gamal Essam El-Din , Tuesday 23 Feb 2016

Speaker of Egypt's parliament Ali Abdel-Al said he 'deeply respects' journalists after the Monday attack on reporters by two MPs

Ali Abdel-Al
Ali Abdel-Al, speaker of Egypt's parliament (AFP)

Egyptian parliament speaker Ali Abdel-Al seized Tuesday's morning session to express "deep respect" for journalists after two MPs attacked reporters covering parliament the day before.

Abdel-Al's statement came one day after the two MPs – businessman Mahmoud Khamis and high-profile TV anchor Tawfik Okasha – attacked two reporters who were covering parliament news on Monday.

Abdel-Al urged Journalists Syndicate chairman Yehia Qalash not to boycott parliament news, highly praising journalists for their robust coverage of parliament.

Khamis assaulted Mohamed Tarek – a photographer with the private Al-Watan newspaper – when he tried to take a photo of MP Okasha after he was expelled from parliament's meeting hall.

Khamis told Tarek that "it is impolite behaviour of you to take such a photo."

Tarek filed complaints with syndicate chairman Qalash and parliament speaker Abdel-Al, urging them to take action against Khamis.

MP Okasha also attacked some parliamentary reporters with a private newspaper, accusing them of "working as police informers rather than journalists."

Okasha was expelled from Monday's session after he insisted on interrupting speaker Abdel-Al, and will be questioned by a special committee on Tuesday over charges of insulting the speaker.

The Journalists Syndicate condemned the assault on Tarek and called on reporters to stop covering the parliament immediately until investigations are conducted into the matter.

"The Journalists Syndicate will not accept the humiliation of any colleague," the syndicate said in a statement. "The role of the people's representatives is to defend citizens' rights, not to assault them and those who transmit the truth," adding that the syndicate will not tolerate the repetition of such violations.

The syndicate said the incident was part of a general atmosphere where the work of journalists is being obstructed and which limits their role in reporting on parliament.

It emphasised that journalists "have the right to monitor MPs' behaviour," as they have been elected by the people.

The syndicate's deputy Gamal Abdel-Reheem told Ahram Online that the union will "suspend" its call for boycott "as long as the involved colleagues accept the apology."

A meeting between the syndicate's board and the parliament's speaker will be held within a few days over the matter.

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