Egyptian editor forced to recant after paper pulped over critical article

#EgyptTurmoil

Editor-in-chief of Al-Bawaba Egypt has since apologised and declared his support for Sisi in an article on the paper's online portal

An Egyptian man sorts newspapers at a distribution centre just off Cairo's Tahrir Square (AFP)
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Last update: 
Thursday 7 September 2017 11:12 UTC
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The editor-in-chief of an Egyptian newspaper has been forced to declare his support for President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi after authorities confiscated his paper’s Sunday edition.

Abdel Reheem Ali, who is also a member of the Egyptian parliament, published a piece on Monday on the newspaper’s online portal reaffirming that “Al-Bawaba News supports the Egyptian government and hopes that the efforts of President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi are successful.”

Al-Bawaba Egypt was pulled from the presses on Saturday evening over a front page article questioning why former Mubarak-era interior minister Habib al-Adly had been allowed to escape justice, despite a seven-year sentence for squandering public funds, handed down in April.

Directly following the move, Al-Bawaba Egypt issued a statement saying that the seizure had been ordered by “certain entities” over the article about the former minister’s whereabouts. The newspaper branded the decision as “irrational conduct” in the statement.

But by Monday, the newspaper’s website had also issued an apology on behalf of its managers and editorial teams for publishing an article that was critical of the government. 

Possible expulsion from parliament

Ali's declaration came amid ongoing reports about his possible expulsion from parliament.

Egyptian MP Zeinab Salem said in a statement that many parliamentarians were in the process of signing a memo demanding Ali’s referral to the disciplinary committee to have his membership suspended, Egyptian media reported on Saturday after the presses were stopped. 

The Mubarak-era minister current location is not known and he is not in police custody, despite the verdict, according to Egyptian media. 

According to Arabic media observers, the move against Ali was linked to the upcoming presidential elections scheduled for 2018. Ali is believed by some people to be a supporter of former presidential candidate Ahmed Shafiq.

Egyptian press syndicate board member Aboul Seoud Mohamed said in a statement that the confiscation of newspapers reflected a “continuation of the undermining of journalism and elimination of freedom of expression,” reported Al-Bawaba News website, which is not affiliated with the paper.

The latest confiscation of the usually pro-government publication comes just months after officials pulled another newspaper issue which laid blame on the security forces for their failure to protect Christians.

A state-run committee froze the assets of the Daily News Egypt and the publication’s owner Mostafa Sakr over alleged ties to Muslim Brotherhood, which is listed as a terrorist group by the government.