CAIRO: Journalists will continue their 24-hour sit-in throughout the day, when a board meeting of the Journalists’ Syndicate is scheduled to examine their complaints of being unfairly denied syndicate membership.
Journalists taking part in the sit-in say that on Monday three men approached them and told them to disband upon orders from Abdel Mohsen Salama, leading syndicate board member and head of the committee which signs off on membership applications.
Al-Badeel journalist Khalil Abo Shady alleges that one of the men, Salah Ragab, is a journalist with ties to the interior ministry.
“Ragab is the delegate of the Al-Arabi newspaper in the interior ministry, and always does things like this whenever we stage protests and so on, Abo Shady said.
“He falsely claimed that Salama had told him that we were not allowed to hold the sit-in before making crude insinuations about what goes on at night during the sit-in.
On Saturday Oct. 18 journalists from independent dailies Al-Badeel and Al-Dostour began a hunger strike and sit-in at the Journalists’ Syndicate downtown headquarters, demanding that the Syndicate rescind its decision.
Journalists say that the decision whether or not to award Syndicate membership is not taken in accordance with the criteria laid down in the law, and suggest that committee decisions are politically motivated.
As evidence of this, journalists point to the fact that colleagues employed in government-controlled daily Al-Ahram have, without exception, been awarded membership, while the applications of established journalists with known leftist political tendencies were rejected.
Journalists ended the hunger strike after Salama agreed to a meeting with them, which took place on Monday.
“Salama provided us with guarantees that our complaints would be examined, but did not provide us with a fixed date about when we would get an answer, Abo Shady, who is taking part in the sit-in, told Daily News Egypt.
Abo Shady says that Salama has promised to put forward the journalists’ case during Wednesday’s board meeting.
“Ultimately the decision whether or not to examine our complaints is not in Salama’s hands, as he acknowledged. He promised that he would put forward our case during the meeting. We want re-examination of our applications and a response within three weeks, Abo Shady said.
“If the board meeting comes up with a solution which meets our demands, we will call off the sit-in. If not, matters will escalate.