CAIRO: Human rights groups denounced Wednesday the foreign minister’s complaint before the prosecution against columnist Hamdy Qandil.
Press reports said Tuesday that Qandil had already been interrogated by the prosecutor for allegedly insulting and defaming Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit in his column published in the independent Al-Shorouk newspaper.
But according to Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI) Executive Director Gamal Eid, Qandil was summoned Tuesday by the prosecution for interrogation after Aboul Gheit filed the complaint.
“It was a misunderstanding by the press. He has not been questioned yet. The legal procedures will be taken next week,” Eid, also a lawyer, told Daily News Egypt.
Qandil could not be reached for comment because he is out of the country.
On May 3, Qandil wrote an article titled “The Homeland’s Disgrace and that of the Citizen,” concluding it by denouncing the state of normalization between Egypt and Israel.
“If the government cared about the public opinion of Egypt, it would have dismissed this minister immediately for … his hostility to freedom of expression,” Eid argued.
Qandil fiercely criticized contradictory remarks made by Egypt’s Ambassador to Israel and Aboul Gheit.
“Egypt’s Ambassador to Israel has confirmed that he lives in (a friendly) country, which contradicts earlier statements by the foreign minister, describing Israel as an enemy,” Qandil wrote.
Qandil added that the reason the ambassador made this comment was to justify the foreign minister’s previous gaffe.
Qandil said that the foreign minister uttered his statement “inadvertently.”
“Usually words fall from his mouth like garbage getting out a torn rubbish bag,” Qandil noted.
Al-Shourouk’s Editor-in-Chief Amr Khafagi refused to comment on the issue for the time being.
Qandil is known for his scathing criticism of the Egyptian regime. A TV show he used to host was halted more than once in several TV satellite channels for criticizing Arab regimes.
He is currently the official spokesman of Mohamed ElBaradei’s National Coalition for Change.