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ANHRI condemns intimidation tactics used against "al-Fagr" newspaper

(ANHRI/IFEX) - Cairo, 26 December 2011 - ANHRI condemns the intimidation tactics being used against al-Fagr newspaper because of its political approach, deemed by protesters as begin against the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF). The protesters chanted “yes to military”, “we are with Tantawi”, and “Adel Hammouda is wrong”, referring to the editor-in-chief, and journalist, of the newspaper.

Over 25 people protested on the evening of 25 December in front of the headquarters of al-Fagr newspaper in Dokki district, and chanted curses, insults and slogans against the newspaper and its editors and staff, even threatening them with physical harm. The protesters also made it clear that they are able to storm the newspaper's headquarters and attack those inside. They vowed to demonstrate again with thousands of others. The newspaper also received several threats, insults and accusations of receiving foreign funding from the US and Israel on its Facebook page. It is worth noting that the editorial policy of the newspaper is critical of the SCAF because of its management of the transitional phase, as well as of the political Islamic currents, who were at the forefront in recent parliamentary elections, which al-Fagr reported was a result of electoral violations.

Articles published by Al-Fagr in December have included one entitled “The Return of The Failed Dictator”, in the paper's 5 December issue, referring to the appointment of Kamal al-Ganzoury as Prime Minister. In the same issue, the newspaper published “Crimes of the Justice and Freedom Party, Violations of al-Nour Party in the Parliamentary Elections”. The newspaper's 12 December issue included the headlines “Fate of the SCAF's Generals”, and “Egypt in the Hell of the Salafists”, while the 19 December issue contained the headlines “Hammouda: If a Salafist Strikes You on the Right Cheek, Strike Him on His Left Cheek”, and “Accusation against Security Entities of Abducting Tahrir Activists and Raping them in Unknown Locations”. In its most recent issue, on 26 December, al-Fagr published the headlines “Hammouda: Extermination of the Revolution between the Murshid and the Field Marshal”, and “Party of Raping Egypt, Military Soldiers Pretended to Be Men with Women, the Muslim Brotherhood Give their Blessing, and the Salafists Curse”.

It is worth noting that the administrative board of the newspaper has filed a complaint regarding the intimidation tactics against it with the Dokki police and the Journalists' Syndicate, the entity entrusted to protect journalists' freedoms and rights. It was stated in the text of the complaint that “it is surprising that a cameraman for Egyptian TV (Egypt News program) came and the protesters asked him why he was late and said they had been waiting for him for a long time. This is something that confirms an orchestrated conspiracy”.

“This incident should not pass without identifying those responsible. Its circumstances should be investigated, since tactics like these constitute a danger and a threat to Egyptian media freedom in general, and al-Fagr newspaper in particular, especially as the protesters threatened to return,” said ANHRI.

“Every citizen and party must respect the right to freedom of expression. We cannot allow every group or party that does not like the editorial policy of a newspaper to attack it. The state must also work on ensuring media freedoms and their protection. It should not allow attacks on media institutions, and should provide due protection to them . . . We may not know who is behind an attack, but we know very well the entities responsible for preventing attacks and protecting the media, which is the SCAF, the de facto ruler, and the Journalists' Syndicate. Therefore, ANHRI calls on both of these entities to take immediate action to prevent a recurrence of this incident, and to prosecute those responsible,” said ANHRI.

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