Skip to main content

Egyptian media strikes against President Morsy

From Journalist Sarah Sirgany and Ben Brumfield, CNN
December 6, 2012 -- Updated 0159 GMT (0959 HKT)
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

Click here for the latest news and interviews from Christiane Amanpour.

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
March 25, 2014 -- Updated 0026 GMT (0826 HKT)
An Egyptian court sentences at least 528 supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood to death on charges related to violent riots in the southern Egyptian city of Minya.
March 24, 2014 -- Updated 1641 GMT (0041 HKT)
Interim Egyptian President Adly Mansour sends letter to the family of jailed Al Jazeera journalist Mohamed Fahmy.
March 9, 2014 -- Updated 1630 GMT (0030 HKT)
CNN's Sara Sidner talks about stepping in for Al Jazeera reporters since they have been barred from working in Egypt.
March 15, 2014 -- Updated 1134 GMT (1934 HKT)
How are the Arab Spring nations faring? What successes can they boast -- on democracy, economic progress, stability and women's rights -- and what challenges await?
March 4, 2014 -- Updated 2357 GMT (0757 HKT)
A Cairo court has banned all activities by Hamas in Egypt, calling the Palestinian movement that runs Gaza a terrorist organization.
February 22, 2014 -- Updated 2114 GMT (0514 HKT)
Lawyers representing Muslim Brotherhood members in a jailbreak case call for the judges to be changed.
February 20, 2014 -- Updated 1005 GMT (1805 HKT)
Three Al Jazeera journalists face terrorism charges after being arrested in December. CNN's Sara Sidner reports.
February 9, 2014 -- Updated 1752 GMT (0152 HKT)
CNN's Christiane Amanpour son the Egyptian government's actions towards journalists.
February 18, 2014 -- Updated 0409 GMT (1209 HKT)
At least four people died and 14 were wounded by a blast on a tourist bus in the resort town of Taba, authorities say.
February 16, 2014 -- Updated 1610 GMT (0010 HKT)
Mohamed Morsy taunts officials who placed him in a soundproof glass box during his trial on conspiracy charges.
February 11, 2014 -- Updated 1301 GMT (2101 HKT)
An Oscar-nominated film portrays a revolution squeezed into its margins,but that's where it started, writes H.A. Hellyer.
January 22, 2014 -- Updated 0818 GMT (1618 HKT)
"Democracy" is meaningless unless the right people are entrusted with implementing it, says Aalam Wassef.
February 6, 2014 -- Updated 2130 GMT (0530 HKT)
Egypt's military quashes a newspaper report that quoted Abdel-Fatah El-Sisi as saying he would run for president.
January 26, 2014 -- Updated 0802 GMT (1602 HKT)
Muslim Brotherhood supporters (background) clash with supporters of the Egyptian government in Cairo on January 25, 2014.
At least 49 people died in violence on the third anniversary of the January 25 revolution, state media says.
January 18, 2014 -- Updated 2204 GMT (0604 HKT)
Voters have overwhelmingly approved a new constitution, a spokesman for Egypt's electoral commission says.
January 15, 2014 -- Updated 0108 GMT (0908 HKT)
Egyptians vote for the first time since the military ousted Morsy. CNN's Ian Lee reports.
January 15, 2014 -- Updated 0111 GMT (0911 HKT)
A study suggests Egyptians are far more likely to support military rule than people in many other Mideast countries.
January 14, 2014 -- Updated 2054 GMT (0454 HKT)
CNN's Becky Anderson speaks to Amre Moussa about what went into the creation of Egypt's constitutional draft.
January 14, 2014 -- Updated 1812 GMT (0212 HKT)
Egyptians have high hopes that the referendum will put an end to the bloodshed, but will Egypt be back where it was at the start of the revolution?
January 13, 2014 -- Updated 1557 GMT (2357 HKT)
International correspondents demand Egypt release three journalists they say have been detained arbitrarily for two weeks.
ADVERTISEMENT