CAIRO: Journalists at Rose Al-Youssef newspaper continued their sit-in on Thursday for the fifth day in protest against chief editor Ibrahim Khalil and the dismissal of fellow colleagues, vowing to stay until all demands are met.
“Our demands are two-fold,” said Hani Nahhas, a reporter for the newspaper, “the return and full employment of the dismissed employees, and the dismissal of the editor-in-chief after the damage he has done to the paper since he came early this year.”
“The Rose Al-Youssef revolution is following in the footsteps of the Jan. 25 revolution,” he said, “and we peacefully demand his overthrow just as the overthrow of Mubarak earlier this year.”
Under the regime of ousted president Hosni Mubarak, the paper was known to be its uncensored mouthpiece, attacking all dissident voices and tarnishing the reputation of all opposition figures.
Nahhas, who was formerly head of the news desk until he resigned in protest against what he described as “violations and unprofessional editorial policies,” said that Khalil’s tenure ruined Rose Al-Youssef’s credibility and made returns of the paper reach an unprecedented 83 percent.
He explained that Khalil had published several stories that were either false or without any sources. “An example was the story of the breach of Egyptian airspace by Israeli fighters, which he took straight from Ha’aretz, without even referring to security officials for confirmation.”
“Another story published was about the arrest of Youssef Boutros-Ghali in Spain, the same day when he was seen in London,” Nahhas continued.
Nahhas told Daily News Egypt that they filed two complaints this week at Qasr Al-Nil Police Station, the first on Sunday to officially sanction the sit-in, and the second was filed on Tuesday after the sit-in was attacked by what was attributed to be a henchman of Khalil’s, with a third expected to be filed on Thursday after protesters’ banners were torn at the lobby of the paper’s headquarters.
The main grievance of the protesters was the contractual hiring of more recent newcomers (less than two years in service) believed to be Khalil’s associates, and in return the dismissal of the older and more experienced journalists (six years in service).
“One day I went to see him in his office and he asked me who I was, saying ‘I don’t know you,’ and then sacked me,” said Mohamed Zakaria, one of the protesters. “I’d already published a front-page story the same day.”
He also said that Khalil was using the same methods as the former regime to quell the sit-in, such as the spreading of false rumors and even cutting off internet access from the newspapers, most of the decrees coming only verbally.
“We’re branded as thugs or regime loyalists,” said protesting