The Arabist

The Arabist

By Issandr El Amrani and friends.

Posts tagged ibrahimeissa
Baheyya on Ibrahim Eissa

Baheyya: Egypt Analysis and Whimsy: Control the Message:

The sacking of maverick newspaperman Ibrahim Eissa is only the tip of a vast iceberg. The broader project is to discredit and intimidate independent media outlets and those who run them, ahead of the 2010 parliamentary elections and the 2011 presidential selection. The regime's goal is clear: to control the flow of political information at an exceptionally sensitive time, limiting the public's exposure to alternative constructions of political reality. Here's the true import of Ibrahim Eissa as a media maverick.

. . .

Eissa has been removed because he’s a newspaperman with a vision and a superior communicator. When al-Dostor went daily in 2007, the paper’s diverse opinion pages were supplemented with solid news reporting that illuminated key spheres of Egyptian society. Eissa cultivated beat reporters who began systematically covering the universities, the courts, protests and demonstrations, and the Coptic Church. He continued to pack the newspaper’s opinion pages with the widest range of political viewpoints of any Egyptian broadsheet. And he managed to keep on writing his own daily column of hard-hitting socio-political commentary, all while also hosting a television show that showcased his skills as a communicator. In one clip, Eissa broke down weighty matters of political economy into an accessible, digestible, humorous module for public edification.

As Egypt heads toward parliamentary and presidential elections, a time when the free flow of political information takes on heightened significance, the government is intent on controlling all sources of alternative knowledge. Newspapers like al-Dostor that pose the greatest threat are effectively shut down, via an elaborate scheme using al-Sayed al-Badawi as the agent and poor management as the pretext. For other independent dailies such as al-Masry al-Youm andal-Shurouq, they are deterred with veiled threats, inducing them to self-censor and scale back their news coverage during election season. Witness the recent series of openly threatening editorials in the government daily Ruz al-Yusuf, warning the editors and owners of all independent dailies and even threatening them with disappearance by 2012.
Ibrahim Eissa fired from al-Destour

When things looked up.The big news in Egypt this morning is that Ibrahim Eissa, the founding editor of al-Destour newspaper, has been fired by its new owner, Wafd Party leader al-Sayyid Badawi. It's not clear why this happened, but some allege it's because Eissa wanted to publish a critical article by Mohamed ElBaradei on the 6 October war (more on that in English at Zeinobia).

We'll probably hear from Eissa himself later today — in the meantime his staff is staging a walkout and the gossip mill says Masri al-Youm's Suleiman Gouda is poised to be the new editor — but the wider interpretation of this will be clear. It will be seen as the result of pressure by the regime, shortly after Eissa loses his TV show on Naguib Sawiris' ONTV, to get rid of the single most influential critical voice in the Egyptian media, and one whose contribution to the current anti-regime atmosphere prevalent in the rest of the media cannot be underestimated. 

Things look set for a repeat of Eissa's previous black-balling from Egypt's media scene, something I looked at back in 2005 when he was making his triumphal return (see PDF of that article for Cairomag). All of this has happened before, and it will all happen again.

Here's a statement from Destour journalists put up on Facebook.



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