The Arabist

The Arabist

By Issandr El Amrani and friends.

Calls for change at Al Ahram

One of the most interesting (and hard to follow) phenomena of the moment in Egypt is the proliferation of demands for reform at the level of institutions and workplaces. At all sort of different organizations, workers are demanding the resignation of top officials and the institutions of more equitable pay scales. 

I just did a piece looking at this for the radio show The World. One of the people I spoke is my old friend Sabah Hamamou, who is one of the leaders of an effort to reform state newspapers. She and 300 other journalists wrote a letter of apology to readers for Al Ahram's coverage of the protests. The editors refused to print it so they called a press conferences and read it out loud. They have also created a Facebook group called The Front to Save Al Ahram (there is another Facebook group calling for a boycott of the paper until its management changes). And for an account of an editorial meeting right after Mubarak's resignation in which Hamamou confronted the newly, suddenly "revolutionary" management, listen to the piece. 

Hamamou is now being targeted within Al Ahram (someone circulated an anonymous letter about her and another colleague who criticized management, accusing them of being phonies and of various financial improprieties).

I am partly interested in what is happening in Egyptian media out of professional interest. I was also scandalized by the complete disregard for truth of "journalists" at state TV and newspapers. And I think if there is going to be any sort of real reform and vaguely even playing field in upcoming elections, state media needs to be radically reformed (the other institution that really needs to be overhauled is the Ministry of Interior, obviously). People like Abdel-Moneim Said -- the formerly cogent regime apologist turned Al Ahram CEO and shameless regime propagandist -- need to be held responsible.