The Egyptian Parliament offered up some harsh criticism of state-owned newspaper al-Ahram, one of the oldest news sources in Egypt, saying that its coverage is offensive, lacked professionalism and distorted the image of parliamentary sessions even though the Parliament continues to fund such a "profitless newspaper".
During that session, the Parliament also criticized several other newspapers and journalists for covering parliamentary news improperly and unprofessionally. Parliamentary speaker Ali Abdelaal said: “Though al-Ahram institution owns [various] companies and universities, it is plagued by a poor administration that is unable to manage it according to economic standards.”
Responding to the Parliament's criticism, al-Ahram released a press statement saying that the newspaper's journalists do their jobs professionally and their role is to convey the truth to its audience. The statement refuted the Parliament’s claim that it funds the paper, pointing out that Egyptian citizens are the ones who are really spending money on the country's institutions, including the Parliament itself.
Ahmed al-Nagar, the chairman of al-Ahram, was quick to post on his official Facebook page, saying: “I am not inclined to respond to the polemics of the young. [But] when it’s an official who hates the press performing its supervisory and monetary functions that are the essence of their role, and when it is an official who does not weigh [his] words before speaking, and [lacks] knowledge about such a great institution that some never even dreamed of entering or even walking beside it, I have no choice but to respond officially because [my] patience has limits, and he has already crossed it,” Nagar said.
Nagar asked for an immediate official apology for Abdelaal's insult toward a newspaper which considered a pillar of the journalism industry in Egypt and the Arab world.
Mohsen Salama, the managing editor of al-Ahram, said he was surprised by Abdelaal's statement and urged him to clarify the alleged facts instead of resorting to unjustified attacks.
Following Nagar's fiery rebuttle, MP Moustafa Bakry said the CEO "rode roughshod" over the parliamentary speaker. “Nagar unjustly accused the parliament’s speaker [who] must complain to the general prosecutor,” Bakry said.
Taking a different approach, Osama Haikal, the head of Media and Culture Committee in the Parliament, said Abdelaal did not intend to insult any journalist at al-Ahram, explaining that this came from his jealousy of the newspaper which has a special importance to the country. Haikal pointed that Abdelaal placed an emphasis on his appreciation of the journalists and the national newspapers in Egypt, but he has some notes on management practices in the last period that led some of them to breach their professional values.