CAIRO: Israeli ambassador Shalhom Cohen’s visit to the office of Al-Ahram’s Democracy Review magazine editor-in-chief Hala Mostafa on Monday has triggered controversy within the state-owned foundation, with calls to fire Mostafa.
Cohen had simply arrived at the Ahram building on Monday afternoon, leaving security officials surprised and flustered since they were not given prior notice and had no instructions on how to act.
When contacted by Daily News Egypt, Mostafa was not available for comment but she told Al-Ahram Al-Mesai, “It is an ordinary meeting that was previously scheduled to discuss the ambassador’s proposal to hold lectures at the magazine, it went on for 60 minutes and I admit that the meeting was set without prior permission from the Al-Ahram’s management.
Local news reports said that sources inside Al-Ahram say that Abdel Moniem Saeed, chairman of Al-Ahram’s board of directors, has expressed his disapproval of what Mostafa had done. He said that he had refused to give her permission for such a meeting more than once before.
He added that Cohen had twice requested meetings with him since his appointment as chairman last July but that he refused for fear of creating a rift within the foundation.
The Journalists’ Syndicate and Al-Ahram staff members vocally condemned Mostafa’s meeting with the Isreali official.
“The syndicate and the foundation completely object to what happened, this is not a personal stance but that of a whole nation against the crimes which Israel commits and its impediment to the peace process, said Abdel Aleem Mohamed, Israeli studies expert at Al-Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies.
“As for the Israelis, it is not new for them to take this provocative approach that will lead to internal clashes; it’s part of their agenda, added Mohamed.
“The general assembly of the Journalists’ Syndicate prohibits any form of normalization with Israel or meetings with any Israeli official due to the fact that Israel still occupies Arab territory, practices all forms of terrorism, violates international agreements and has a secret nuclear arsenal, said Ahmed El-Naggar, member of Al-Ahram’s board of directors.
“What Hala [Mostafa] did is a violation of the syndicate’s policies and tarnishes the image of Al-Ahram as a state-owned media foundation, he said.
The syndicate will refer Mostafa to an investigative committee where she will be questioned over the incident. According to El-Naggar, Al-Ahram will be taking the issue to the Shoura Council in an effort to have her suspended from the foundation.
El-Naggar explained, however, that Mostafa should not take the blame alone.
“She was following what she learned from her mentor Abdel Moeniem Saeed, a pioneer in normalization with Israel. Although he technically disapproved of what she did, he did not use his power to stop it or to issue orders of banning Cohen from entering the foundation , he said.