Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Freedom of the Press, Egyptian-style

From Al Masry al-Youm:
In a move some suspect aims to both muzzle Mohamed ElBaradei’s campaign voice and restrict broader opposition dialogue in Egypt’s media landscape, the independent newspaper Al-Dostour on Tuesday said its mogul publisher has fired the daily's chief editor, an outspoken government critic.

Ibrahim Eissa's dismissal comes amid growing uncertainty over Egypt's political future, with parliamentary elections less than two months away and constant speculation over 82-year-old President Hosni Mubarak's health.

Al-Dostour reported on its website early Tuesday that its publisher al-Sayed al-Badawy, who also heads the liberal opposition Wafd party, fired Eissa effective Monday. Eissa, however, claimed he is still in charge of the daily' online edition.

Abdel Monim Mahmoud, a senior editor at Al-Dostour, said the board of directors has been interfering in the editorial policy of the paper to downplay its criticism of the Egyptian regime.

“Reda Edward, who is one of the paper’s chief stockholders, met with the paper's editors and informed them of the decision which he said was prompted by Eissa’s editorial policy that has turned off advertisers who fear that posting their ads in al-Dostour may anger the government,” Mahmoud told Al-Masry Al-Youm.

He added that the daily’s owners were particularly resistant to an article written by ElBaradei, former head of the UN nuclear watchdog, which was scheduled to run on Wednesday as Egypt marks the 37th anniversary of the 1973 October war with Israel.

Later, Eissa told the AFP news agency that his dismissal came shortly after he rejected a request from the owners to postpone publishing ElBaradei’s article.