Egypt's Press syndicate ready to withdraw confidence from board 'if legal'

Ahram Online , Sunday 8 May 2016

Press Syndicate
Egyptian activists shout slogans, in front of the Press Syndicate Cairo, Egypt, April 15, 2016 (Reuters)

The head of Egypt's Journalists Syndicate Yehia Qallash said on Sunday that the syndicate would be ready to hold an urgent general assembly to withdraw confidence from the board if it meets "the legal form."

Qallash responded to demands made by dozens of journalists who attended a meeting called for by Al-Ahram daily's editor-in-chief Mohamed Abdel-Hady.

The meeting aimed at addressing the ongoing conflict between the syndicate and interior ministry following the arrest of journalists Amr Badr and Mahmoud El-Sakka from inside the syndicate headquarters on 1 May.

The move was described last week by Qallash and many other journalists as an "unprecedented assault."

Journalists at the meeting criticised the syndicate's demand that the presidency issue an apology for the storming of the syndicate headquarters by police to arrest the two journalists.

The syndicate also called for the sacking of the interior minister and that news outlets defy a gag order issued by the prosecutor-general on the arrest of Badr and El-Sakka, who face charges of publishing false news, inciting the public and plotting to overthrow the regime.

"I will not comment on [Sunday’s meeting] or what took place there," Qallash said. "We will not fight, these are colleagues who have the right to gather and release statements about whatever they want. We are a syndicate of opinion and we will not limit anyone."

On Sunday, a movement started by a number of journalists titled 'Correcting the Path' called for an urgent general assembly during the meeting, which was attended by several high-profile journalists including Ahmed Moussa and Khaled Salah as well as five members of the syndicate board.

'Correcting the Path' distributed a statement at the meeting detailing its position.

"In light of continuing deception of public opinion and the journalism community in the latest crisis, where the syndicate board led journalists to a direct clash with all state institutions, the Correcting the Path front calls on Egyptian journalists to support it in its demand to call for an emergency general assembly to withdraw confidence from the board and hold new elections for all the board's seats."

In statements to Ahram Arabic news website, syndicate board member and ‘Correcting the Path’ supporter Hatem Zakaria stated that he and four other board members were considering resignation over the syndicate’s handling of the dispute with the interior ministry.

"I am totally against how the Journalists Syndicate was hijacked by a group of people acting against the interests of the syndicate and the profession," Zakaria said.

However, syndicate board member Karam Mahmoud told Ahram Arabic news website that the ‘Correcting the Path’ meeting complicated the original crisis resulting from the storming of the Journalists Syndicate by police.

"Nevertheless, if we get any official requests from [Correcting the Path], we as a board will discuss it and make a decision in accordance with the syndicate's law," he said.

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