The editor-in-chief of Al Bawaba Egypt, which is not affiliated to Al Bawaba News, has been forced to apologise and declare his support of the country’s leader Abdel Fattah El Sisi after the state confiscated Sunday’s edition of the title.
The Al Bawaba Egypt newspaper was pulled from the press on Saturday evening over a front page article questioning why former Mubarak-era Minister of Interior Habib Al-Adly has been allowed escape justice, despite a 7-year sentence for squandering public funds issued in April.
Adly’s current location is publicly unknown and he is not currently being held in custody despite the verdict.
Following the confiscation, Al Bawaba Egypt issued a statement saying that the seizure had been ordered by “certain entities” over the controversial article concerned the former minister’s whereabouts. The newspaper branded the decision as “irrational conduct” in the statement.
Despite being held under house arrest, Adly was not present when the verdict was issued and police have allegedly been unable to find him ever since.
In the statement Press Syndicate board member Aboul Seoud Mohamed was cited as saying the confiscation of newspapers is a “continuation of the undermining of journalism and elimination of freedom of expression”.
The confiscation of newspapers in Egypt is unconstitutional according to Article 71 of the Constitution, which states that “times of war or public mobilization” are the circumstances under which temporary censorship is allowed. However, the current emergency law allows the president to seize publications if deemed “necessary”.
Later the newspaper’s editor-in-chief Abdel Reheem Ali published an opinion piece in which he apologised to state leadership for the critical article amid calls for him to be expelled from his other position, a Member of Parliament.
Ali penned a piece titled “They are damaging the president’s image”, in which he argued that censorship was against the “values and ethics of Al-Sisi”, who accepted criticism.
Ali also defended the crackdown on the Muslim Brotherhood and asserted his support for Al-Sisi in the 2018 presidential election.
The newspaper’s website also published an apology on behalf of its managers and editorial teams for publishing the critical piece.
The latest confiscation of the usually pro-government publication comes just months after officials pulled an issue which laid blame on the security forces for their failure to protect Christians.
Press censorship, bans and even the outright seizure of publications deemed critical towards the regime has become common in Egypt under President Abdel Fattah El Sisi.
Following a series of critical articles last year, a state-run committee assigned to seizing funds and assets of Muslim Brotherhood affiliated members froze the assets of the Daily News Egypt and the publication’s owner Mostafa Sakr over alleged ties to the banned group.
The publication’s website was blocked alongside other independent outlets including Mada Masr in May this year.
Control of the outlet was seized by the government and it is now overseen by the state owned newspaper, Al Akhbar al Youm.
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