CAIRO: Executive director and the new co-owner of daily independent Al-Dostor newspaper Reda Edward claimed in a recent TV interview that advertisers had called for sacking of outspoken editor-in-chief Ibrahim Eissa citing his use of “repulsive” language.
In his first public statement following the crisis, Edward denied that any differences between him and Eissa led to sacking the latter.
“There are no political differences between me and Eissa as he claims. Neither was there a disagreement over publishing Mohamed ElBaradei’s article,” Edward told Mehwar satellite TV’s “48 Hours” live show Thursday evening.
Observers assume that the current crisis may have been orchestrated by the regime to end opposition advocates.
“Edward is an unknown name in the field. The crisis of the Egyptian media is that it is [controlled] either by the money of investors who have nothing to do with this profession or by the government,” Journalists’ Syndicate board member Gamal Fahmy told Daily News Egypt Friday.
On Monday Oct. 4, Eissa was sacked by the new management after an alleged disagreement had erupted between the two sides.
Eissa said that the disagreement broke out over publishing an article written by opposition leader ElBaradei commemorating the Oct. 6 victory.
On Tuesday at dawn, the reporters claimed that the management moved the computers from the newspaper premises in Giza to a temporary location at Al-Wafd opposition party, led by the main owner Al-Sayed Al-Badawy.
The newspaper was published on Wednesday from the temporary office in Dokki without any direct input of reporters. The edition included ElBaradei’s article.
Since then the management has been publishing the newspaper without the journalists who still report for duty every day inside the newspaper’s Giza headquarters, hoping for a solution.
Eissa said in media statements following these incidents that the new owners of the newspaper, mainly Al-Badawy and Reda Edward, had recurrently attempted to alter the editorial policy, which stirred tension between the two parties.
“I have never stepped inside the newspaper before [Eissa was fired],” Edward said, accusing Eissa of halting the publishing of the newspaper and … attempting to be “a political martyr” in the process.
“We [the owners] did not interfere in the editorial policy of the newspaper. We have nothing to do with this issue,” he added.
“Edward contradicts himself,” Fahmy argued. “How come the management didn’t interfere in the editorial policy, while responding to the advertisers’ wish to fire Eissa?”
According to Edward, the owners were only involved when it came to the payroll and attempts to develop the newspaper.
“When we bought the newspaper … we found out that the salaries were so small. So we raised them to the double … [after] we held a meeting with the staff and called on them to enhance the standard of the newspaper,” Edward noted.
“People got bored of repulsive words. In other independent newspapers, we find more respectable language used,” he added.
The main reason behind the crisis, Edward claimed, is that when the journalists received their new salaries, they objected to the high taxes they were asked to pay.
Edward further alleged that the journalists sent the management a memo of seven points indicating that they will stop publishing the newspaper unless their demands were met.
“This is the only reason behind such a [crisis],” Edward said.
Meanwhile, the syndicate board held an emergency board meeting Thursday during which the board members voiced support for Eissa and the newspaper’s staff.
“However, the syndicate is not an executive authority that can impose a decision on the owners,” Fahmy explained.
On Aug. 23, businessman Al-Badawy bought Al-Dostor and reportedly paid LE 20 million to the owner and founder Essam Ismail Fahmy in return.
At the time, Al-Badawy said that no changes will be made to the editorial policy of the newspaper.