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Two publications' licences revoked

(ANHRI/IFEX) - On 7 September 2008, the Arabic Network for Human Rights Information,, condemned the revoking of the licences of both "Azzohour" magazine and "Ashorouq" newspaper in less than one week. The security agencies decided that "Azzohour" magazine should not be published, and took offence to the fact that some of "Ashorouq" newspaper's shareholders are journalists.

The cancellation of "Azzohour" magazine's licence came on 1 September, one day before its expected printing, despite the prior approval obtained by the Al Risala company, owner of the magazine, last June. The security establishment objects to the publication of this magazine. The decision violates the Press Law, which prohibits an administrative apparatus from obstructing or terminating any newspaper. Salah Abd el Magsoud is board chairman of the magazine and is also a member of the Journalists Union Council.

The revoking of the licence of the daily "Ashorouq" came on 3 September while the newspaper was getting ready for the publication of its first issue, having obtained its license in June. The annulment of its licence was explained by the fact that journalists are among the daily's shareholders. The newspaper's board council is chaired by Ibrahim Al Mo'alim, head of the Arab Publishers Union, and its editor-in-chief is Salama Ahmed Salama, a prominent Arab journalist.

The revoking of the two publications' licences was carried out by the pro-government Supreme Council of the Press, whose members are appointed by the government. The Council's decision affirms its genuine role of repressing the Egyptian press. ANHRI notes that many journalists have started to refer to the body as "the Supreme Council for Obstructing the Press".

ANHRI notes that obstructing and banning newspapers is a dangerous matter that threatens freedom of the press.

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