CAIRO: Editor in chief of Al-Ahali newspaper Farida Al-Na’ash suggested postponing the protest non-publishing day from Oct. 7 to Oct. 14 in an official memo she sent to the Head of the Press Syndicate, Galal Aref.
The editors of 15 Egyptian independent and opposition newspapers had agreed not to publish on Oct. 7 in protest at a government clampdown that has seen several journalists sentenced to prison terms early September.
Two privately-owned newspapers, Al-Mogaz and Al-Gamaheer, contacted the Press Syndicate on Sunday to inform it of their intention to join the non-printing protest. But Al-Na’ash told the Daily News Egypt that “declaring a non-printing day is the highest form of pressure so we shouldn’t resort to it first. We must try to negotiate.
She added, “We should use this as a last tool because it’s the strongest one.
Galal Aref and the Press Syndicate’s dialogue committee had requested a meeting with President Mubarak and Safwat Al-Sharif, speaker of the Shoura Council (the Upper House of Parliament) to which the Higher Press Council is affiliated. But when Aref had a sudden heart attack early last week, the meeting had to be rescheduled.
Yet a member of the Press Syndicate’s higher committee, Yehia El Allash, disagreed with Al-Na’ash.
“Al-Ahali’s suggestion is not practical, he said. “We can move in both directions at the same time. There is no contradiction between negotiating with the authorities and using other tools like a non-printing day protest, inviting journalists to an emergency general assembly, a sit-in or strikes.
He recalled the success of the Syndicate’s protest against the regressive 1993 press law.
Al-Na’ash had also called for an emergency meeting with the Press Syndicate’s dialogue committee to be held yesterday. Leading journalists like Makram Mohamed Ahmed, the former head of the Press Syndicate and Salah El-Din Hafez were to be present at the meeting to take a final decision on the issue.
Al-Na’ash was, however, not adamant about the date change. “If there is consensus to stick to Oct. 7, Al-Ahali will still join the non-printing protest.