Egypt press syndicate accuses presidency of 'intimidating' journalists

Ahram Online , Monday 25 Mar 2013

Amid ongoing protest outside Cairo's Media Production City against perceived anti-Islamist media bias, Press Syndicate accuses presidency of launching 'intimidation, incitement' campaign against journalists

Head of Egypt's Syndicate of Journalists Diaa Rashwan (Photo: Ahram Arabic News Website)

The syndicate  issued a statement Monday accusing the presidency of launching a campaign of "intimidation and incitement" against journalists.

The syndicate's statement comes amid ongoing protests against perceived anti-Islamist media bias outside Cairo's Media Production City (MPC), where numerous media outlets are based.

"The situation has reached the extent that top-level authorities are interfering and implementing the campaign," the statement asserts. "This was clearly seen in President Mohamed Morsi's recent address which resembled [government speeches from] the dark eras before the January 25 Revolution."

"Why did the siege on the MPC – which included severe assaults and harassment [of journalists] – come only hours after the president's speech? Is there a linkage between both issues?" the syndicate asked.

The statement went on to stress the Egyptian people's unequivocal right to a free and diverse media, warning against a situation that could lead the country into further into a state of "crisis and resentment."

Several media figures were assaulted on Sunday after protesters gathered at the MPC, located in 6 October City on the outskirts of Cairo, to protest what they described as anti-Islamist bias on the part of certain television channels.

Prime Minister Hisham Qandil's cabinet released a statement the following day saying that, "[these actions] do not comply with the correct methods of expressing opinion, and do not exhibit good conduct in exercising the rights that we all aim to consolidate in building a new democratic system."

A cabinet spokesman described such "violent actions" as "harming the image of the revolution, undermining [Egypt's] climate of confidence and negatively impacting the values of democracy."

The statement emphasised that freedom of expression is a constitutional right for every citizen and that objections should be communicated through discussion and argument. Several media figures were verbally abused, while others found it difficult to enter the MPC to put on their shows.

Interior Minister Mohamed Ibrahim arrived at the MPC late Sunday in an effort to convince protesters to end their sit-in. Protesters, however, continued their demonstrations outside the complex on Monday.

Several Islamist groups and activists on Saturday had called for the protest at the MPC following "biased media coverage" of anti-Brotherhood violence on Friday near the Islamist group's Cairo headquarters.

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