Egyptian Journalists Detained for Sit-in
By Mohammad Baali
Albawaba.com – Cairo
Egypt’s prosecutor general decided Monday to detain two journalists working for the scandal-haunted Al Nabaa tabloid, charging them with inciting riots and expressing contempt for religion.
The detainees include the son of the banned newspaper’s editor in chief, Mamdouh Mahran, whose decision to run a story on an alleged monk’s sexual antics sparked riots and lawsuits from Egypt’s Coptic Christian minority this summer.
The detainees will reportedly be in custody for four days.
The decision follows a Monday sit-in organized by dozens of Al Nabaa journalists at the Press Association headquarters, where they demanded a chance to register with the union.
The journalists condemned the closure of their newspaper and called the government decision prejudiced in favor of the Copts.
The association’s secretary general, Yahya Klash, told Albawaba.com that the journalists got rowdy when the association officials refused to accept their registration documents.
The police were called in, and clashes erupted between the two sides, leading to the arrests of two journalists, said Klash.
The Cairo-based Al Nabaa tabloid apparently was banned for publishing an article that graphically described how an alleged monk supposedly ran a sex-and-blackmail ring out of a monastery. Young Copts in Cairo and Upper Egypt rioted after reading the article.
Apparently reacting to their outrage, the government charged Mahran with undermining the national security and inciting sectarian divisions. He was subsequently expelled from the Egyptian Press Association and the tabloid’s distribution was barred.