Press Syndicate drafts memo amid ‘Correcting the Path’ opposition

The Egyptian Press Syndicate has said that its board is drafting a legal memorandum to be handed to the relevant authorities and the General Prosecutor clearly outlining the conflict between the Syndicate and the Ministry of Interior.

The memorandum will mention the storming of the Syndicate headquarters by police personnel on May 1 to arrest two journalists.

The Syndicate board said that a resolution to the conflict will be reached when the prestige of the Syndicate and the dignity of the general assembly are reinstated.

Correcting the path

Meanwhile, several Egyptian journalists have launched a protest group called "Correcting the Path" that aims to dissolve the board of the Egyptian Journalists Syndicate in light of their on-going battle with the Interior Ministry since the storming of the headquarters.

The group laid out its vision at a meeting on Sunday, arranged by Al-Ahram newspaper and attended by numerous high-profile journalists, including Khaled Salah, the editor-in-chief of Youm7, TV presenter Ahmed Mousa, and perhaps surprisingly, five members of the press syndicate board.

Correcting the Path called on syndicate members to gather signatures demanding their resignation of the current board, which they say has failed in its legal duty to guarantee professional and social services for syndicate members.

In a press statement, the group said they will no longer accept the board's actions, which they say include the fabrication of crises and the spreading of untruths that may cause social disintegration and threaten stability.

Moreover, they repeated previous warnings against transforming the syndicate into a venue for political conflicts supported by various factions.

Crossing a red line

Meanwhile, group members said they did not agree with the board's action in demanding an apology from President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi in response to the arrest of the two journalists at the syndicate headquarters on May 1.

“Approaching President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi is a red line, and including his name in the general assembly was not planned,” said Mohamed Shabana, a syndicate member of the board.

Shabana said that he was surprised by some of the proposals put forward at the syndicate's general assembly, which was held last Wednesday, saying he was not made aware of them beforehand.

Makram Mohammed Ahmed, the former head of the syndicate, said that the group was demanding a review of the decisions made in relation to recent journalist protests, saying that the syndicate should not be used as a means of escaping responsibilities.

He said the meeting represents the unity of journalists and their full commitment to abiding by the law.

“Journalists are not a cut above the rest. They are not above the law, and the government should know this. Deep down we knew that the Syndicate board was defective," Ahmed said. 

The group's press statement read: “It’s the perfect time for journalists to move on and correct the path, especially after the deterioration of the press syndicate situation, which has turned from a professional body into a political mouthpiece, applying various political agendas calling for the overthrow of the state and clashes with its institutions,” the press statement added.

The statement said that the current crisis is a historic opportunity for those journalists who are interested in transforming the syndicate.

It also warned against dangerous, shameful and unprecedented actions on the part of the syndicte, such as attempting to hide two journalists who were wanted on warrants from the General Prosecution. It said such actions sparked unreasonable conflict with law enforcement bodies and those who protect the nation.

Meanwhile, the current syndicate head, Yehia Qallash, said: “The syndicate would not refuse to arrange another general assembly for the withdrawal of confidence in the board, so long as it meets with the legal requirements."

Destructive quarrels

Qalash said the meeting called by the Correcting the Path group is aimed at creating division among journalists.

“Our respectable syndicate will not be dragged into these plots," he said, "and we will not get into a quarrel in order to achieve gains for the stakeholders, because it is not appropriate for journalists to quarrel".

On the other hand, the Speaker of the House of Representives has assigned the Information Minister Ossama Haikal to dissolve the conflict between the Interior Ministry and the Press Syndicate. Haikal announced that a confidential meeting will take place on Tuesday to resolve the issue between both sides.

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