Egypt Independent

Journalists Syndicate officially withdraws from Constituent Assembly

The Journalists Syndicate decided to withdraw from the Constituent Assembly, following a meeting on Tuesday, to protest a number of draft articles and what it said was negligence of its proposals.

The syndicate said some articles in the draft constitution are at odds with freedom of the press and expression.

An informed source at the syndicate board told Al-Masry Al-Youm that board chairman Mamdouh al-Wali had voiced reservations on the decision, arguing that the text of the draft was not final and could be amended through pressure. Other board members, however, voted unanimously for withdrawal, the source said.

Syndicate member Gamal Abdel Rahim said in press statements that board members deemed articles in the draft constitution “catastrophic” as they sanction imprisonment over libel, harm the syndicate’s independence and pave the way for privatization of state TV and press.

Abdel Rahim said there are “dangerous” articles that allow the dissolution of trade unions by judicial order, or the formation of a national press council appointed by the Shura Council. Abdel Rahim said a state press council could influence journalism in general.

He added that all papers will be invited for a protest if other assembly members decline to withdraw.

The decision by the syndicate follows similar recent moves by representatives of Egyptian churches and secular political forces in objection to constitutional articles, as well as to Islamists’ conduct within the assembly.

Edited translation from Al-Masry Al-Youm