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ANHRI condemns prime minister's media interference, attacks on demonstrators

(ANHRI/IFEX) - On 26 February 2011, the Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI) said that the army assault on protesters demonstrating against Prime Minister Ahmed Shafik is cause for a clear apology from the army. To make up for this insult, the army should expel Shafik and all the ministers loyal to former president Hosni Mubarak, such as Mahmoud Wagdy and Ahmed Aboul Gheit, as well as dissolve the state security department and prosecute all its officers, ANHRI noted.

Thousands of Egyptians demonstrated in Tahrir Square on 25 February against PM Shafik. The protesters demanded that the authorities dissolve the state security apparatus and release prisoners of conscience. Despite the continued cheers in support of the army, army units assaulted the protesters, chasing them on the streets of Cairo and beating them with electric batons which resulted in many casualties.

The assault on the peaceful demonstrators in Tahrir Square came a few hours after Shafik ordered the suspension of a TV show hosted by Amr Laithi and broadcast on Dream 2 channel, which is owned by Ahmed Bahgat. The reason for this order was that Laithi and two guests on his show, writer Ibrahim Eissa and film director Khaled Youssef, criticised the prime minister and expressed solidarity with public demands calling for his dismissal.

The 25 February assault on demonstrators in Tahrir Square by the army coincided with the return of repression by the police. Police officers used tear gas and batons against thousands of peaceful demonstrators in Mansoura, who were demanding Shafik's dismissal.

ANHRI said, "The military's insistence on keeping the symbols of deposed dictator Hosni Mubarak, and the attack on demonstrators, calls for an immediate apology to the Egyptian people and the immediate dismissal of Shafik. The Egyptians who made a revolution for their right to freedom and democracy, will not give up on deposing all symbols of dictatorship, starting with the dismissal of Shafik, an enemy of the people and enemy of freedom of the press, and ending with the dissolution of the state security apparatus and the prosecution of all its officers, including Interior Minister Mahmoud Wagdy at the top".

"The military has to know that there is no turning back. This revolution has sacrificed hundreds of martyrs for freedom and the Egyptians will not give up their claim for a democratic civilian government clean of all symbols of dictatorship," ANHRI added.

ANHRI expressed further concern about the prime minister's actions after Shafik gave instructions to stop retransmitting the TV show "Wahid Men elNas" after about 45 minutes from its start on 25 February.

Shafik tried to impose himself as a guest on the popular show presented by Mahmoud Saad. Saad declined the prime minister's offer in support of the public demand for Shafik's dismissal.

Saad had already planned to host Osama Ghazali Harb, Abdul Moneim Abul Fotouh and a group of revolution youth on his 26 February show "Masr Ennahardah", when he received a telephone call that the prime minister wanted to appear on his show and address citizens on that day. Saad expressed his rejection of the cabinet, refused to host Shafik and resigned.

According to ANHRI, the consecutive attacks on freedom of expression and the media in recent days are similar to those of the days of police repression before 25 January. Shafik's attempts to impose himself as a guest on a popular show despite the refusal of the producer is an unacceptable violation of freedom of expression and a breach of the principles and objectives of the revolution.

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