Morsi approves new press council appointments, attaches SIS to Egypt presidency

Ahram Online , Thursday 6 Sep 2012

Morsi orders appointment of new Supreme Press Council members, puts Egypt's State Information Service (SIS) under auspices of presidency

Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi issued a decree on Thursday formally appointing members of the Supreme Press Council, who were chosen by the Shura Council (the upper, consultative house of parliament) on Tuesday.

Morsi also decreed the transfer of Egypt's State Information Service (SIS) from the auspices of the information ministry to the presidency, according to the website of the Freedom and Justice Party (FJP), of which Morsi was chief before becoming president. The SIS is the state's official media and public-relations service.

Tuesday's appointments to the Supreme Press Council included Shura Council head and FJP member Ahmed Fahmi, eight chairpersons, eight editors-in-chief of state-owned publications and four editors-in-chief of party-affiliated newspapers (the latter of which include newspapers Al-Wafd, Al-Ahrar, Al-Nour and Freedom and Justice).

New appointments also included the head of the Egyptian Journalists Syndicate and four former members of Egypt's Supreme Press Council. The latter include liberal veteran politician Osama El-Ghazaly Harb, along with Ibrahim Hegazy, Mohamed Khuraga and Mohamed Negm.

The head of the General Union of Press, Printing and Publishing Workers Talaat El-Meneisi, in addition to a number of media experts and political figures – including Geel Party President Nagi El-Shahabi, political science professor Ayman El-Mahgoub, and Al-Youm El-Sabae Editor-in-Chief Khaled Salah – were also appointed.

Several Islamist figures were likewise appointed to the press council. These included Salafist Nour Party members Ahmed Khalil, Tarek El-Sahri and Nader Bakar – who later turned down the offer of membership – along with Muslim Brotherhood members Fathi Shehab El-Din (head of the Shura Council's culture committee), journalist Qutb El-Arabi, and a host of others.  

The appointments were met with criticism from some quarters after claims emerged that appointees were favoured by the Muslim Brotherhood, which enjoys a majority in the Shura Council.

Pro-democracy group 6 April, along with prominent Egyptian journalists and writers Salah Eisa, Bahaa Taher and Gamal El-Ghitani, expressed their concern that council members were being chosen to serve the interests of the Muslim Brotherhood.

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