Newspaper cancels opinion page, censors articles critical of Brotherhood

Al-Akhbar newspaper, the second largest state-owned newspaper in Egypt, has cancelled the opinion page that often published articles by prominent writers known for their critical views of the Muslim Brotherhood.

The privately owned El Badil website on Wednesday quoted Momen Khalifa, the editor of the opinion pages at Al-Akhbar, as saying that only one of three opinion pages was cancelled.

The move comes after Al-Akhbar refused to run an article by prominent literary critic Abla al-Ruwainy on what she called the “Brotherhoodization” of the state, in which she criticized the Brotherhood for trying to dominate the state and its apparatuses.

Al-Akhbar had also recently banned an article by well-known novelist Youssef al-Qaeed titled “No Obedience,” in which the author denounced President Mohamed Morsy’s supporters who surrounded the Media Production City and threatened the journalists who held critical views against the Brotherhood last week.

Khalifa claimed that the decision was made because “our own writers deserve more space. Also, we need to cut costs and make space for more important economic news or letters for the editor.”

For his part, Qaaed said the page was cancelled because most of its writers are against the Muslim Brotherhood. “The editor-in-chief is pro-Brotherhood and will not allow it,” he said.

This month the Brotherhood-dominated Shura Council, the upper house of Parliament, appointed the new chief editors of state-owned newspapers, raising concerns over the Muslim Brotherhood’s alleged attempt to monopolize state-owned papers.

Some analysts accused the Shura Council of choosing chief editors known for their loyalty to the Brotherhood.

Also this month, the public prosecutor referred controversial, pro-military media personality Tawfiq Okasha to the Cairo Criminal Court on charges of libel, defamation and attempts to incite his viewers to assassinate the president.

The public prosecutor also accused Islam Afify, the editor-in-chief of privately owned newspaper Al-Dostour, of spreading false information that insults the president, thus disturbing public peace, harming public interest, destabilizing the country and causing people to panic.

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