Skip to main content

Egyptian media strikes against President Morsy

From Journalist Sarah Sirgany and Ben Brumfield, CNN
updated 8:59 PM EST, Wed December 5, 2012
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Newspapers are either missing from stands or printing a protest illustration
  • Privately owned TV stations will follow suit with protests Wednesday
  • An Egyptian judicial body says some judges will oversee the December 15 referendum

Cairo (CNN) -- Newspapers and television stations known for criticizing President Mohamed Morsy are falling silent Tuesday and Wednesday to protest the country's new draft constitution and an edict the head of state issued nearly two weeks ago to expand his powers.

As Egyptians count down to a public referendum on the draft constitution to be held in less than two weeks, some newspapers disappeared from news stands Tuesday. Others printed the same protest picture of the press symbolically behind bars with the headline, "No to Dictatorship."

Article 48 of the draft constitution ties media freedom to the framework of society and national security, which many Egyptian journalists see as vague terminology.

State news agency Egynews confirmed the media strike, sourcing the head of Egypt's Journalists' Syndicate. State-owned outlets will remain open, said Gamal Fahmi.

There was one exception, when journalists at state-owned news website Al-Ahram joined in the protest, Fahmi said.

Four privately owned television stations will go off the air Wednesday in solidarity, according to a statement by participant broadcaster ONTV.

Egypt's Prime Minister on turmoil
Pro-Morsy supporters turn out in force
Islamists call for Morsy support rally
A street vendor grills corn as Egyptian soldiers stand guard at the Presidential Palace on Tuesday, December 18, in Cairo. Protesters opposed to President Mohamed Morsy's first round of voting in the constitutional referendum gather during continuing demonstrations. A street vendor grills corn as Egyptian soldiers stand guard at the Presidential Palace on Tuesday, December 18, in Cairo. Protesters opposed to President Mohamed Morsy's first round of voting in the constitutional referendum gather during continuing demonstrations.
Egyptians protest presidential powers
HIDE CAPTION
<<
<
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17
18
19
20
>
>>
Egyptians protest president\'s powers Egyptians protest president's powers

Egypt's high court suspends sessions after protest

The English-language online daily Egypt Independent grayed out its home page and posted a message on a black slate, stating that it "objects to continued restrictions on media liberties."

The paper believes the government has intimidated Egyptian journalists by hitting them with investigations, said deputy editor Amira Ahmed.

State TV journalists Hala Fahmy and Bothaina Kamel are being investigated for "professional errors" committed on air, according to state news agency MENA and have been suspended pending investigation results.

President Mohamed Morsy issued an edict nearly two weeks ago to exclude all decisions he has made since taking office from judicial review, saying it was necessary to block judges trying to thwart gains made in the revolution.

Egypt's judiciary contains many holdover loyalists from the government of deposed autocratic President Hosni Mubarak. Some judges had threatened to shut down the Islamist dominated Constituent Assembly tasked with drafting a new constitution.

A court is to hear lawsuits Wednesday calling for the annulment of Morsy's decree, according to a lawyer representing organizations challenging its validity. Islamist lawyers are trying to block the suits, Ahmed Hossam said.

About 1,000 judges from around the country agreed Sunday that they would not supervise the December 15 national referendum on the constitution, members of the Egyptian Judges Club said. The club's unanimous decision means court officials who would normally sort out any irregularities in voting will abstain from the process in protest.

But on Monday, members of the Egypt's Supreme Judicial Council -- the nation's highest judicial body -- agreed to supervise the referendum, Judge Abdel Rahman Behloul said. This group's members had initially criticized Morsy's edict, but they softened their stance after a meeting with him last week.

"We have been conducting a survey and, despite the position of the Judges Club to boycott the review of the referendum, we have received feedback from many prominent judges who are willing to oversee the vote," Behloul said. An estimated 11,000 judges will be needed to oversee the vote.

Al Zind, from the judges club, said 90% of judges are refusing to participate "but there are also Muslim Brotherhood judges" and others supportive of Morsy's stance. He claimed the Supreme Judicial Council "has no real power, they are heads of courts that deal with administrative matters."

Q & A: What's driving Egypt's unrest?

Boisterous protests have filled streets of Cairo and other cities for over a week, at times turning violent, as the opposition accused Morsy of usurping dictatorial powers with his edict.

In the heat of the public outrage, the Constituent Assembly, its members strongly allied with Morsy, rushed to complete the draft and hand it off to the president, who put it to a public referendum.

He has promised his controversial edict will dissolve as soon as the referendum is over, but the rush to finish the draft has only fanned the flames of protest from all sides of his opposition among the judiciary, liberals, Christians, leftists and now the press.

Some members of the assembly walked out and were replaced by more Islamists, tilting the balance even farther in Morsy's favor and fueling accusations of a power grab.

The document that voters will consider has itself become a source of significant controversy.

Prime Minister Hesham Kandil insisted Monday that opposition views -- including that there would be protections for women and to prevent Egypt from becoming a theocracy -- were taken into consideration when the final draft was pushed through Friday.

"It is impossible to have a perfect text that everybody agreed to," the prime minister said. "... I think there is a majority consensus to move forward with the referendum. In two weeks, we'll find out what Egyptians think of this constitution."

Egypt effectively has been without a constitution since the early 2011 popular uprising that led to Mubarak's ouster.

Journalist Sarah Sirgany reported from Cairo and CNN's Ben Brumfield reported from Atlanta.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
Egypt
Visit CNN Arabic for full election news and updates in Arabic.
updated 12:50 PM EDT, Mon May 26, 2014
CNN's Reza Sayah explains Egypt's presidential election.
updated 12:55 PM EDT, Mon May 26, 2014
Minute changes by Egypt's next leader may not be sufficient to bring genuine stability, writes H.A. Hellyer.
updated 11:59 PM EDT, Thu May 22, 2014
Supporters of Egyptian leftist presidential candidate Hamdeen Sabbahi (portrait) attend a campaign meeting in Cairo.
Both presidential candidates have made lofty promises. But has either offered specifics on how the economy?
updated 4:06 AM EDT, Sun June 8, 2014
CNN's Reza Sayah profiles the leading contender in Egypt's presidential election, ex army chief Abdel Fattah el-Sisi.
updated 4:09 AM EDT, Fri May 23, 2014
Hamdeen Sabahi is considered a heavy underdog in the race for Egypt's presidency, but he's sure he's going to win.
updated 6:08 PM EDT, Wed May 21, 2014
A court in Cairo sentences ousted Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak to three years in prison for embezzlement.
updated 1:22 PM EDT, Thu May 22, 2014
An Egyptian man waits for tourists to take them on camel rides at the Giza pyramids on the outskirts of Cairo on February 14, 2011.
Instead of focusing on antiquities, Egypt's new "We miss you" video features dancers, malls and ritzy hotels.
updated 11:14 AM EDT, Thu May 8, 2014
Former Arab League head Amre Moussa says presidential favorite Abdel Fattah el-Sisi is right to stand up to "terrorists."
updated 8:50 AM EDT, Thu May 8, 2014
Can music heal the rift of revolution and conflict in Egypt? CNN's Reza Sayah meets the Egyptian band trying.
updated 5:20 PM EDT, Tue May 6, 2014
Egypt's former military chief doesn't mince words when he describes what would happen if he wins the presidency.
updated 5:37 AM EDT, Thu April 10, 2014
Are threats of sexual violence an everyday reality for women in Cairo?
updated 12:41 PM EDT, Mon March 24, 2014
Interim Egyptian President Adly Mansour sends letter to the family of jailed Al Jazeera journalist Mohamed Fahmy.
updated 12:30 PM EDT, Sun March 9, 2014
CNN's Sara Sidner talks about stepping in for Al Jazeera reporters since they have been barred from working in Egypt.
updated 7:34 AM EDT, Sat March 15, 2014
How are the Arab Spring nations faring? What successes can they boast and what challenges await?
ADVERTISEMENT