CAIRO: The second edition of independent Egyptian daily Al-Badil’s Wednesday issue was not printed due to its tone in covering the Shoura Council fire, the paper’s editor claims.
State-run Al-Ahram Printing allegedly received orders not to print the second edition of the paper.
A huge fire which began on Tuesday evening gutted the Shoura Council. The second edition of Al-Badil is viewable on the newspaper’s website.
Coverage of the fire is led with headlines reading “Fierce fire destroys People’s Assembly and Shoura Council committee buildings in less than two hours; flames consume Ferry, contaminated blood, cancerous pesticides and Upper Egypt train files – a reference to several high profile and controversial incidents which occurred in Egypt in the last few years.
Other headlines state that 40 fire engines were unable to control the fire for five hours and that the paper’s journalists were prevented from covering the event.
An article alleges that the Shoura Council building was not equipped to withstand fire despite its having been renovated, and despite the fact that it houses important public documents.
Engineers are alleged to have told Al-Badil journalists that Shoura Council security staff prevented them from entering the building before the fire broke out, and that they could have prevented the fire had they been allowed entrance.
Zakaria Hassan, former head of the Nasser Military Academy, is quoted as saying, “The fire has revealed serious shortcomings in firefighting capacity because of the poverty in the country and bad planning . A special force should have been in place to fight a fire on this scale.
Occupational safety consultant General Nader Noaman also criticizes the response to the fire in the Al-Badil article.
“There was a delay in the response to the fire which made it difficult to deal with.
“While there were trucks carrying water; at least six permanent sources of water were required in order to bring the fire under control.
“Furthermore, throwing water at the fire from planes led to the collapse of the buildings’ roofs, Noaman is quoted as saying.
According to an article written by Al-Badil journalist Wael Mahgoub (which appears on the Mabadali.blogspot website) the newspaper’s first edition – sent to the printing house at 5 pm – was reduced to 18,000 copies.
The second edition – which has a circulation of 25,000 – was not printed at all, allegedly after the Al-Ahram Printing House had received orders from security bodies not to print the newspaper, Mahgoub wrote on his blog.
Al-Badil’s chief editor Mohamed El-Sayyed Said told Daily News Egypt that the newspaper’s photographer was attacked by security forces.
“We were the first journalists on the scene, and took hundreds of photographs showing how the fire developed.
“Security forces destroyed our photographer’s camera and confiscated its digital memory card – this happened very early on, before other journalists arrived, Said explained.
Said says that he suspects Al-Badil’s outspoken criticism of the government could explain the orders given to Al-Ahram not to print the second edition.
“Colleagues say that political motives lie behind the decision to ban the second edition – but I can’t say this with any certainty until I have further proof.
“While Al-Masry Al-Youm was allowed coverage of the incident, we were not, and I can only think that this is because we are much more critical than Al-Masry Al-Youm.
“We are in any case extremely concerned that Al-Ahram did not perform its duties in accordance with its contract with us, Said told Daily News Egypt.