As many Egyptians are watching Mohamed Morsy’s performance during his first 100 days in office, commentators tackled the fierce confrontation between the Islamists movements, particularly the Muslim Brotherhood, and the media.
These comments ranged from,claiming there is an attempt by Islamists to control the national media institutions, and criticisms of the Shura Council, to reactions of commentators against what they call a systematic defamation campaign against Islamism and President Morsy.
Free speech was discussed, in an interview with Islamist reformist Rachid Al-Ghannouchi of Tunisia.
Another issue, of less significance, was the demand of some policemen that they be free to grow their beards, which again, brought debates on post-revolution personal freedoms versus institutional rules and regulations.
DiaaRashwan depicts the rush of the Islamist majority in the Shura Council to control the national press.
The hurry of the Islamist block in attempting to seize the national press has come when the same Shura Council members have not yet completed their part in the Constitutional Drafting Committee.
This prompted Rashwan to question the intent of the Islamists.
He suggested they are making use of the pre-revolutionary legislation governing the relationship between the Shura Council and national press, before awaiting the completion of the post-revolution constitution, which is expected to open the doors wide for free press.
Rashwan sees that Islamists are acting as if they were on a holy mission to purify the national press, regardless of what the sons of these governmental institutions and their elected Syndicate of Journalists might say.
He claims this is done in order to achieve two main goals.
The first is to settle old accounts with some of the national press icons who used to slam Islamists and their project, and the second is to appoint loyalists with the Islamist worldview on the heads of national press establishment.
Rashwan advises President Mohamed Morsy to act as a referee between the authorities, including the press, to avoid the return of national press to the Mubarakmodel.
Karima Kamal examines the violence committed by Islamist extremists after the ascension of Mohamed Morsy to the presidency.
These incidents lately included the murder of a student strolling in a park with his fiancée in the city of Suez, the murder of two musicians in Al-Sharqiya province, repeated attacks on women not complying with the ‘Islamic dress code’, and an assault in a coffee shop in Nasr City district in Cairo by armed bearded men.
Kamal rejects the argument propagated by the Freedom and Justice Party and the Al-Nour Party, whereby they consider themselves under a state security conspiracy to vilify and satanise them before the people.
In Kamal’s estimate, this argument ignores the long history of Islamist violence in Egypt, including, the assassination of FaragFouda, the assault on the Nobel laureate Naguib Mahfouz, and the robbery of Coptic jewelry based on fatwas praising such attacks.
The most recent example of this are the controversial statements made by Yassir Burhami, a member of the Constitutional Drafting Committee, regarding women and Copts.
While Morsyonly condemned the incidents, Kamal urges him to take deeper measures to tackle the crux of the issue, as this is the only salvation from religious fascism.
FahmiHoweidi examines the excessive media coverage of an issue, which he considers to be of minor weight.
This issue is the demand raised by some police officers to be granted the freedom to grow their beards.
Howeidi blames the media for concentration on this issue rising to the point that it was being discussed by Field Marshal Hussein Tantawy in one of the recent meeting of the Supreme Council of Armed Forces.
On the other hand, both religiously and practically, Howeidi sees that there is no issue with police officers not being able to grow their beards, as the priority should be to comply with the rules and regulations of security institutions, and to grant security to the wider population.
Howeidisummarises the fatwas issued by the Maliki, Shafei, Hanafi, and Hanbali schools regarding beards, and cites some of Al-Azhar’s prominent Islamic scholars, and even the Grand Mufti Sheikh Ali Gomaa, supporting the view that having bearded policemen dealing with Copts will ultimately cause sectarian tensions.
Howeidi concludes his column by stating that the greatest fallacy is to prioritise what is mandatory above what
Ahmed Al-Sawi takes the opportunity of the visit made to Al-Shorouk newspaper by the Tunisian Prime Minister Rachid Al-Ghannouchi, and conducts a conversation with him regarding the relationship between religion and politics.
Al-Ghannouchi suggests that while religion and politics are inseparable, a distinction should be made between what is religious, and what is political.
He states that secularism is not atheism, but an attempt to regulate the state to grant freedom of expression and belief.
He cites his initiative to depoliticise mosques across Tunisia.
Al-Ghannouchi cites the Prophet Muhammad’s first two actions when his migration from Makkah to Madinah was completed; building the mosque, and establishing the ‘Sahifa’ or the constitution, whereby Muslims and Jews were a single political entity.
When Al-Sawy mentions the recent events in Egypt where mosques have been exploited by religious groups in favour of, or against,particular electoral candidates, and asked him, ‘Why don’t you offer lessons from your initiative to our Egyptian Islamists?’
Al-Ghannouchi replied that he had learned these concepts from prominent Egyptian Islamic thinkers such as Mohamed Imara and Selim Al-Awwa.
Ghannouchi questioned Al-Sawi back, ‘Why don’t you in Egypt allow such thinkers to have a say in the future of the country?’
Khalid Montassir expresses skepticism following the statement made by the Minister of Interior regarding the murder of a young man in a park in the city of Suez, while walking with his fiancée.
In lieu of describing the procedures and event that led to the arrest of the culprits, the Minister of Interior attacked the media, and stated that the criminals do not belong to any political or religious affiliations but at the same time, they were religiously ‘practicing’.
This particular term aroused Montassir’s anger, as it reduced the parameters of religious practice to merely wearing a jilbab and growing a beard, and deprives it from its core essence.
Montassir warns that the murderers of FaragFouda and Naguib Mahfouz did belong to any religious or political movements, but they found in some fatwas enough justification to aim their Kalashnikovs at those they disagree with.
Omar Abdul-Rahman had an infamous statement, ‘If Naguib Mahfouz did not speak up, Salman Roshdy would have shied away’.
While Al-Nour Party’s MP Ali Wanis was staunchly defended by those ‘practicing’ Muslims, after his video-recorded sexual scandal, Montassir slams the moral bankruptcy of these factions who interfere in others personal affairs,considering themselves more virtuous.
Stressing the sanctity of freedom of the press and media, Ammar Ali Hassan rejects the methods employed by the Muslim Brotherhood to counteract what they see as a systematic defamation campaign against their entity and President Mohamed Morsy.
Such reactions were manifested in the attempt by the Brotherhood to purchase numerous private satellite TV channels, and to appoint loyal editors-in-chief in national press establishments, making use of their Shura Council majority.
Hassan regards this as an attempt to silence those who oppose them, in what constitutes a replication of the numerous legal barriers against free speech which existed during Mubarak’s era. He considers these policies as outdated.
Rationally speaking, Hassan denounces the attempts by many to crucify Morsy only after one week of taking his oath as president.
However, he feels comfortable with experienced commentators examining Morsy’s performance in several fields of governance and policies.
While Hassan condones the anxiousness of the Muslim Brothers facing the rising mocking tone in the press aimed at president Morsy, he considers the courts as the only legal arena to counteract anyone who might exceed the limit.
He denounces the systematic rumor-spreading, vilification, and accusation of treason hurled at anyone daring to criticize Morsy and the Freedom and Justice Party.