Three days after receiving an ostensible reprieve in their ongoing labor dispute, hundreds of employees of the influential Islamic affairs website Islam Online remained in limbo Sunday, awaiting some sort of sign as to their–and the site’s–future.
Strikers walked off their jobs last week after months of tensions with the board of the Islamic Message Society, the Qatar-based NGO that funds Islam Online. But on Thursday evening, news came that the board had voted to suspend the authority of two new members–who striking staffers viewed as the primary forces behind sweeping editorial changes that had led to the staff walk-out.
The move against board members Ibrahim el-Ansari and Ali el-Amady was taken by strikers as a sign that the board and its leader, influential Egyptian cleric Sheikh Youssef el-Qaradawi, had sided with the employees.
But three days later, the strike continues outside the website’s main editorial office in 6th of October City. The Cairo-based editorial staff remains locked out of the site’s computer servers, while two employees have begun a hunger strike.
Strikers say that el-Ansari and el-Amady appear to be fighting the board’s ruling–and holding hostage the passwords to access the website’s servers.
“They still have the power. They still have the passwords,” said Fathi Abu Hatab. “We’re ready to work whenever we get the passwords.”
A statement issued Thursday by striking employees said that el-Ansari and el-Amadi “refused to abide by the decision and defiantly closed the [Islamic Message Society’s] headquarters in Doha.”
Meanwhile, the strikers–whose fate remains bound to a power-play happening two timezones away–are growing restless.
“The conflict is now Qatari-Qatari,” Abu Hatab said. " It’s all internal."