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Egypt press launches 'negative' campaign against interior minister

Protest comes after Magdy Abdel Ghaffar ordered security forces to raid office of journalists' union and arrest two reporters
Front page of the private al-Muqal carried headline 'the negative minister' (Twitter)

Egyptian newspapers on Thursday ran front pages bearing pictures of the interior minister in “negative” in protest at what journalists say are restrictions on press freedom in the country.

The front pages of at least four national newspapers included an image of Magdy Abdel Ghaffar with the colours reversed – the headline of one, al-Muqal, read “The Negative Minister”.

The move comes amid a growing row between Egyptian authorities and the journalists' union, which says it was illegally raided by security forces on Sunday.

The journalists' syndicate – the oldest labour union in Egypt – on Wednesday renewed its call for Ghaffar to resign and called for the government to apologise for raiding its headquarters.

Following a general assembly, which was accompanied by tense confrontations between journalists and the police outside the union's Cairo headquarters, it also called on Egyptian journalists to flout a publishing ban imposed by the Interior Ministry, forbidding media outlets from publishing reports about the raid.

Most privately-owned newspapers responded to the call on Thursday – one, al-Bawaba, ran with a red banner bearing the slogan “We are journalists,” while al-Shorouq opted for the headline “The pen besieges the sword”.

Egypt's state-owned al-Ahram, meanwhile, reported that the union had “failed” to hold a general assembly, pointing to the fact that only 1,000 of 8,000 total members attended.

Earlier, however, the organisation had tweeted an image of the Interior Minister with the colours reversed, announcing its "complete commitment" to decisions taken by the journalists' union following its meeting on Wednesday.

Translation: Ahram Gate announces its complete commitment to the decisions taken at the General Assembly of journalists

The union plans to meet again next Wednesday to discuss taking strike action.

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