SCAF dismisses spokesperson over military image after Maspero, source says

Egypt's military leaders dismissed their media spokesperson over the aftermath of the Maspero violence last year, among other reasons, a military source speaking on condition of anonymity has told Al-Masry Al-Youm.

While Major General Ismail Etman, 60, was at retirement age, the source said several members of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces are above that age, including Armed Forces Chief of Staff Sami Anan, 66.

State media on Tuesday announced SCAF's decision to exempt Etman from service and replace him with General Ahmed Abul Dahab, the director of the artillery division.

The military source linked the dismissal to renewed discussions of Maspero violence in October and the summoning of an official state TV presenter, Rasha Magdy, who is charged with inciting people to clash with Maspero protesters.

Twenty-seven people died in clashes outside the Maspero state TV building on 9 October involving military forces and mostly Coptic protesters. Egypt's military leaders came increasingly under fire after these and later clashes with protesters.

Another reason for Etman's removal is that people have not responded to SCAF head Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi's speeches, the source said, adding that the council has solicited the help of three media professionals and reporters to write them.

The source said a third reason for the dismissal was Etman’s appointment of former Luxor Governor Major General Samir Farag to work with him in the military's Morale Affairs Department, even though the latter is charged with squandering public money.

Abul Dahab has a strong personality and is respected by his leaders, the source said.

Media expert Yasser Abdel Aziz said the nature of working for the head of the Armed Forces Morale Affairs Department has "changed dangerously."

Instead of looking after the armed forces' morale and working to increase their sense of belonging to the military institution, the person with the position is now responsible for managing media affairs, Abdel Aziz said.

Translated from Al-Masry Al-Youm

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