Salafi political leaders and figures stressed the importance of a media code of ethics in the ‘Future of Media’ seminar held by the Ministry of Information.
Disqualified presidential candidate Hazem Salah Abu Ismail, Al-Jama’a Al-Islamiya leader Assem Abdel Maged, and television preacher Khaled Abdallah all attended the seminar.
Atef Abdel Rashid, head of the Salafi Al-Hafez channel, and Hazem Ghorab, president of the Muslim Brotherhood’s Misr 25 channel, were also in attendance.
Press Syndicate Chairman Diaa Rashwan argued against the detention of journalists and urged Minister of Information and Muslim Brotherhood member Salah Abdel Maqsoud to initiate legislation protecting journalists from arrests.
Rashwan used the example of Youssef Sha’ban who was arrested on Saturday in Alexandria but Abdel Maqsoud said Sha’ban might have been arrested for throwing Molotov cocktails at a police station.
Abdel Maqsoud refused to discuss the issue of legislation, saying this was not the purpose of the seminar, prompting Rashwan to point out that “legislation” appeared on the distributed agenda for the seminar. Abu Ismail supported the decision to discuss other matters.
“It is not like Egypt has 100 journalists in detention. We need to focus on the rights of the citizens, not the rights of media professionals,” Shura Council member Abdel Maged told Rashwan.
Rashwan then brought up the issue of the charges against political satirist Bassem Youssef which prompted Abdel Rashid to say: “He [Youssef] is charged with insulting Islam, so down with Bassem Youssef and long live religion.”
Abdel Rashid’s channel is a frequent target of Youssef’s satirical on-air commentary.
Abdel Maqsoud said President Mohamed Morsi was committed to freedom of expression and freedom of the press. He added that the media had ignored the government’s positive accomplishments in favour of focusing on negative topics and problems.