Circulated photo on social media of journalists' sit in at Press syndicate on Monday morning in response to police storming its HQ to arrest two of their colleagues in Cairo, Egypt on May 2, 2016
Egypt’s Al-Ahram daily newspaper published in its Tuesday edition strong criticism of the interior ministry after the unprecedented move of police storming the press syndicate on Sunday to arrest two journalists, a step described by lawmakers as “unconstitutional.”
Al-Ahram’s editorial said the announcement of the sacking of the interior minister is expected in response to the heinous act [of storming the syndicate] that left the entire country with a feeling of “sickness.”
“The leaders of the [interior] ministry and those who control them didn’t realise that the disgraceful act of storming the Journalists Syndicate is unprecedented and unacceptable,” it added.
The unsigned editorial also directly criticised the interior ministry’s recent general performance.
“The interior ministry has committed many mistakes in the recent period, and concluded with its sorrowful action against journalists and media people.”
“[The ministry] won’t succeed in its malicious aim of gagging mouths and stifling the freedoms of opinion and expression, rights stated in the constitution which the security leaders are yet to read.”
It added that the only way the country can move forward is through freedom of opinion, “or else the state will be the first to pay the price of violations to these freedoms.”
The editorial also outlined that “security leaders” are painting to the political leadership a deceptive picture of the state entity and its peace.
Al-Ahram’s editorial also touched upon the recent arrests of youths.
Hundreds of activists were arrested from cafes and the streets as a preemptive measure after the call for protests on 25 April to condemn the country’s acknowledgment that two Red Sea islands, previously under the sovereignty of Egypt, belong to Saudi Arabia.
Security forces also arrested hundreds of youth during the protests, among them 43 journalists, seven of whom are still in custody.
The editorial added that the youth have been imprisoned without a case against them and are under the “illusion that they are against the state, though we don’t know yet what state the security [apparatus] means by this and what they want to achieve with these claims.
“Have we [as journalists] become, along with our youth, enemies of the state?” the editorial asked.
Al-Ahram’s editorial concluded by calling for wisdom in the face of this crisis so that the callers of chaos and discord, as well as those who want to use this impasse to harm the country, cannot benefit.
This is the first time the syndicate has been stormed since it was founded 75 years ago.
The two journalists who were arrested, Amr Badr and Mahmoud El-Sakka, were questioned by the prosecution on Monday and given 15 days detention pending investigations on accusations of spreading false news, inciting the public, and plotting to overthrow the regime.