Egypt Independent

Egypt’s parliament to sue Ibrahim Eissa for sarcastic critique of state institutions



Parliament speaker Ali Abdelaal and several members of parliament agreed on Tuesday to file a complaint with the prosecutor general against prominent journalist and TV host Ibrahim Eissa in response to a recent issue of al-Maqal newspaper that mocks and criticizes Egypt's Parliament and state institutions.

Eissa, the editor-in-chief of al-Maqal newspaper, printed a series of satirical headlines on the front page of the Monday issue which attacked the Parliament, Prime Minister Sherif Ismail, Egypt's homeland security and the state's economic policies.

"The Oscar goes to… best cartoon movie: the parliament; best movie: the pound flotation; best actor: Sherif Ismail, on his role as prime minister; best director: Egypt's homeland security, on directing the parliament and satellite channels; and best supporting actress, Hoda Abdel Nasser, on her role in Tiran and Sanafir movie," the headlines in al-Maqal's Monday issue read.

Eissa has been a vocal critic of both the Parliament and the government's performance, including President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, through both his TV show and the newspaper, despite previously supporting President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi when he took office in 2013. 

MP Mortada Mansour also condemned al-Maqal's criticism of the Parliament.

"We are respectable members serving Egyptians …This paper tarnished our image by claiming we are a cartoon-like Parliament, and that Egypt's homeland security is behind our seatings as members. It also dubbed [us] as the president's members of Parliament," he said.

The decision to file the complaint against Eissa came after MP Mostafa Bakry accused him of directing blatant insults toward the Parliament, in Tuesday's parlimentary session.

"Eissa wrote an article which aimed to tarnish the image of the Parliament, MPs, and speaker Ali Abdelaal himself," Bakri said.

Abdelaal later agreed with Bakry's claim, saying that he decided to take this move to safeguard the dignity of the Parliament against harsh attacks by the press.

"The insults in Eissa's article are a crime and represent a deviation from press freedoms. I decided that all the insults in Eissa's article in al-Maqal newspaper be referred in a complaint to the prosecutor general for investigation," he added.

This is not the first time the Parliament has decided to pursue legal action against Eissa over his unrelenting criticism against the institution.

Last December, Eissa accused the Parliament of planning to adjust the constitutional article that limits the presidential term, on his talk show on Al-Qahera Wal Nas channel. He also described MPs as "swindlers and impostors." In response, the Parliament filed a complaint to the General Authority for Investment, requesting legal action against the channel owned by media tycoon Tarek Noor, over Eissa's claims.

Soon after, in January, Eissa's show was cancelled for unspecified reasons.

The channel said at the time that Eissa stepped down from his role on the show in order to ease work-related pressures and to have more time for his writing projects.

Eissa's statement, however, did not clarify whether the show was suspended or if he had resigned.

"I accept that this is the suitable moment to stop the show; I think that events would lead me to delay TV hosting to another day and time. Perhaps it may come," Eissa said in a statement in January.