CAIRO: Egyptian journalists have called for the removal of the Interior Minister Magdy Abdel-Ghaffar after security forces stormed the Journalists’ Syndicate Sunday evening to arrest two reporters.
Around 30 security personnel in plainclothes stormed the syndicate and arrested Amr Badr, editor –in –chief of Yanair online news and journalist Mahmoud al-Saqqa, who were staging a sit-in against the handover of two islands in the Red Sea to Saudi Arabia, and against the detention of hundreds of people and journalists who protested the handover on April 25.
In early April, Egypt announced that two islands – Tiran and Sanafir – are to be recognized as Saudi territory; both countries reached an agreement, per which Egypt relinquished control of the islands which are located at the entrance of Al-Aqaba Gulf. The deal stirred public anger.
Journalists’ Syndicate General Assembly member Abdel-Moneim al-Hashash told Youm7 that the security forces stormed the syndicate and attacked three security guards who tried to prevent them from entering after refusing to reveal their identity.
However, Ministry of Interior Spokesperson Abu Bakr Abdel-Karim told Cairo Today, a talk show on al-Qahira we al-Nas, that the security forces did not “storm” the syndicate, but instead the two journalists were arrested upon a request from the prosecution.
He added that the two reporters are facing accusations of “stirring the public against the regime, and coordinating with banned Muslim Brotherhood members to take to the streets on April 25.” Abdel-Karim said that only four police officers “entered the syndicate.”
As dozens of Journalists protested Sunday evening against the storming of the syndicate and called for the interior minister to be dismissed, syndicate members held an emergency meeting over what they described as an “attack” by security forces.
Journalists’ Syndicate Chairperson Yehia al-Qallaash announced Sunday evening that the emergency meeting resulted in calling for the removal of the Minister of Interior, staging an open-ended sit-in by the general assembly members, and holding another emergency meeting on May 4. He also called for a wide-scale meeting for journalists from all newspapers and media outlets on May 4.
Qallaash added in a statement that this “flagrant action” by the security forces contradicts with Article 70 of the Journalism Law that stipulates that the syndicate shall not be inspected by the police except in presence of a representative from the General Prosecution and the Syndicate chairperson.
“The Ministry of Interior burns the whole country…I place the responsibility on the Minister, and ask President Sisi to sack him,” al-Qallaash told a talk show on al-Qahira We al-Nas. He also noted that an incident like this never occurred under former President Honsi Mubrak.
A number of parliamentarians and members of other syndicate’s have denounced the attack, calling for the removal of the interior minister, Youm7 reported.