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Egypt's press syndicate calls on papers to run black front pages on Sunday

Black front pages are the latest measure to push for the sacking of the interior minister

Ahram Online , Friday 6 May 2016
Journalists carry Yehia Kalash, head of the Egyptian press syndicate, during a protest against restrictions on the press and to demand the release of detained journalists, in front of the Press Syndicate in Cairo (Reuters)
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Egypt's press syndicate has called on newspapers to black out their front pages on Sunday, as one of its measures to push for the sacking of the interior minister over last week's arrest of journalists inside the syndicate headquarters.

In a Friday statement, the syndicate also called on the press to publish on Saturday editorials that condemn attacks on journalists and which criticise the interior minister, and for the publication of the slogans "No to media gag orders" and "No to restricting journalism."

The measures were agreed upon at an urgent meeting of the syndicate's general assembly on Wednesday, which was held in response to the police storming of the syndicate headquarters last week.

Some newspapers and online media outlets have already decided not to mention the interior minister by name, and to publish pictures of the minister in negative, as part of the escalation measures.

During Wednesday's assembly meeting, the syndicate said it would give the government a week to meet its demands, including that the minister be sacked.

Other demands include the release of all journalists jailed in cases involving freedom of expression, an official apology from the presidency for the storming of the union's headquarters, and the introduction of a law protecting journalists from assaults by state officials.

Around 2,000 journalists attended the Wednesday meeting.

A second meeting will be held on Tuesday to discuss the next steps, should the syndicate's demands not be met.

On Sunday, over 40 police personnel stormed the syndicate’s downtown headquarters and arrested two journalists, Amr Badr and Mahmoud El-Sakka, a move described by syndicate head Yehia Qallash and many journalists as an "unprecedented assault."

The prosecution said that "the arrest warrant and the procedures being conducted by the Ministry of Interior are correct and the two suspects are facing criminal charges that are not related to their work," explaining  that there are no legal or constitutional conditions that prevent police from arresting journalists from inside the syndicate headquarters.
Both journalists 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.
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