Egypt's upper house of parliament named 50 new editors for state-owned newspapers on Wednesday, including several who have Islamist leanings, raising concerns among journalists of Islamizing the press.Isn't Egyptian freedom freaking fantastic?
The state-owned papers, run for years by secular-leaning editors, had a reputation as a mouthpiece for President Hosni Mubarak, who was deposed last year.
Elections following the popular uprising put the Muslim Brotherhood in control of the parliament and the presidency. State-owned media formally belong to the upper house of parliament, the Shura Council, and it was poised to put its stamp on the newspapers.
The Brotherhood and its newly elected president, Mohammed Morsi, have complained about negative press coverage, and the move by the Shura Council to replace the old editors with people more sympathetic to the Islamists was not a surprise.
Several of the new editors named Wednesday appear to be linked to Islamists. Abdel-Nasser Salama, appointed chief editor of Al-Ahram, Egypt's oldest paper, was suspended from writing his weekly column in 2010 for inflammatory articles against Christians.
The new chief editor of Al-Akhbar daily, Mohammed Hassan al-Bana, is the grandson of the Muslim Brotherhood's founder, Hassan al-Bana.
Gamal Abdel-Rahim, new chief editor of el-Gomhouria, was accused by rights groups of inciting Muslims against the Bahai religious minority in 2009, when Muslim villagers attacked houses of Bahais, denouncing them as "enemies of God."
The Shura Council, headed by Ahmed Fahmi, who is Morsi's brother-in-law, formed a committee of 14 members to filter applicants for the editor posts.
The committee comprised six lawmakers, two professors, two administration experts and four journalists. Journalists who favor normalization with Israel or had strong ties with old regime were banned.
Two of the journalists resigned from the committee, voicing suspicions that the filtering process was not transparent and that Islamists were choosing their loyalists.
(h/t @OrenKessler via @WarpedMirrorPMB)