Egypt’s Press Association Revokes Membership of Tabloid's Editor
By Mohammad Baali
Albawaba.com - Cairo
In an urgent session on Friday, the council of Egypt’s Press Association decided to revoke the membership of Mamdouh Mahran, the editor–in-chief of the weekly tabloid Al Nabaa which published a disgraceful graphic story of a former Coptic monk, triggering violent Christian riots in the country.
But the decision was not based of the publishing of the sex scandal. Rather, it was based on an article in the association’s bylaw that prohibits member journalists from owning shares in newspapers, according to Yahya Qallash, secretary general of the syndicate.
The decision will bar Mahran from assuming any top position an Egyptian publication since membership at the Press Association is a prerequisite in this regard.
However, the decision, which was apparently taken to placate angry Copts who saw procedures taken by the union and the government against Mahran and his paper unsatisfactory, is expected to stir a controversy due to the fact that key journalists in Egypt are partners in newspapers and other publications. These include Emad Eddin Adeeb and Mustafa Bakri.
Meanwhile, if the association’s decision is not enough, the court may complete the job. A hearing will be held on Sunday in a case filed against Mahran by his association accusing him of publishing material that caused rift in the Egyptian society.
The state security misdemeanors court will try him for disturbing the peace, publishing scandalous pictures and subject matter which led to the humiliation of a religious group and lit "the fires of civil strife."
Mahran is also charged with publishing information about a case under investigation, that of the monk, and could face as much as 24 years in jail.
As the riots appeared unstoppable, meanwhile, the leader of Egypt's Coptic Christian minority called Thursday for a "concrete measure" to be taken against the newspaper and its editor for publishing the offensive article claiming the monk had been caught with a prostitute in his monastery, AFP reported.
Pope Shenouda III was speaking in an interview on state television a day after 40 police and 30 Coptic youths were injured during clashes at a mass demonstration over the article outside Cairo's Coptic cathedral.
Shenouda said that "what will calm the Copts is a concrete measure against the newspaper that offended Christians and a measure against the editor of that newspaper."
Al-Nabaa on Sunday ran a front-page story with pictures of a bearded man, said to be a monk of the Al-Mosharraq monastery in Asyut, southern Egypt, in compromising positions with a naked woman under the headline "Monastery Turned into Brothel."
"This newspaper has offended Christians and Christianity and risks provoking inter-faith revolt" between Christians and the majority Muslim population," Shenouda said.
"The photos that were published have been used (by Muslims) to mock Christians in their homes and on (public) transport," the pope said, and had "provoked an unprecedented wrath among the Copts."
Pope Shenouda has filed a libel suit against Mahran for the stories. Mahran has proclaimed his innocence, saying he ran the articles in order "to alert the church and its religious leaders to what was happening, especially as Christianity and Islam stand side by side," a prosecution source quoted him as saying .
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