Fadl accuses Al-Shorouk newspaper of censorship; editor denies claims

Osman El Sharnoubi, Sunday 2 Feb 2014

Egyptian writer Belal Fadl attacks Al-Shorouk for banning his article, which criticised possible presidential candidacy of army chief Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi

Still from a show writer Belal Fadl previously hosted.

Prominent Egyptian writer Belal Fadl said on Sunday that he had officially terminated his relationship with daily newspaper Al-Shorouk for censoring his article on the same day.

The paper's chief editor has denied the censorship accusations.

On Sunday the newspaper, which had been publishing Fadl's articles since January 2013, ran a notice that Fadl's expected article would not appear in that day's edition.

Fadl, however, insisted that his article, which criticised the probable presidential candidacy of Egypt's top military chief Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi, had been censored.

After his article wasn't published, Fadl wrote on Twitter that no article of his had ever been banned during the reign of Hosni Mubarak, former military chief Hussein Tantawi or ousted president Mohamed Morsi.

In the article, Fadl accused famed Egyptian journalist Mohamed Hassanein Heikal of backing El-Sisi's presidential bid in spite of the author's past stance against military men becoming politicians.

Fadl stated on his Facebook page that the paper had shown the article to Heikal, who advised that they shouldn't publish it.

Fadl also said that he received a request from the paper's administration urging him to ignore the censorship incident and resume writing, which he decided against.

"After some thought, it became clear to me that this would be a contribution by me to lower the ceiling of freedom for the sake of my existence," he said, after which he decided to look for somewhere else to publish.

The article was published Sunday afternoon on the Mada Masr news website.

No censorship

After Fadl's claims on Sunday, Al-Shorouk's Editor-in-Chief Emad El-Din Hussein denied that any censorship had taken place.

"Not a single word of Fadl's has ever been scrapped or banned, neither have any of our other writers'," Hussein said.

According to Hussein, Fadl had mentioned in his article that Heikal was possibly going to write El-Sisi's presidential program, an insinuation that Hussein later said was inaccurate and which caused him to halt the article's publication so as not to present readers with unsubstantiated information.

Fadl refuted Hussein's statements on his Twitter account, claiming that previous articles of his and other journalists had been banned and that the editorial team frequently interferes with its writers and censors material. 

Fadl went even further, asserting that a previous article he wrote about TV presenter Ibrahim Eissa was almost banned until Fadl threatened to quit writing for the paper.

Al-Shorouk is known for being one of the few privately-owned print newspapers that hosts writers from divergent political affiliations who are often critical of the country's rulers.

Fadl's articles in Al-Shorouk repeatedly attacked the policies of the Egyptian state following Morsi's ouster in July. He was also a staunch critic of Morsi.

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