Egyptian president to sue media for libel

Experts: Morsi has right to claim, press freedom unaffected

GMT 10:00 2012 Thursday ,02 August

Arab Today, arab today Experts: Morsi has right to claim, press freedom unaffected

President Morsi
Cairo – Akram Ali

President Morsi Cairo – Akram Ali The spokesman for the Egyptian presidency Yasser Ali declared President Morsi has taken legal action against media figures for spreading false information about the president and insulting him using foul language. Meanwhile, a number of media professionals consulted by Arabstoday stated their support for such a procedure as long as it follows the correct legal framework to avoid ethical and professional conflicts.
Yasser Ali said in a press statement at the presidency headquarters in western Cairo that legal action was taken against foreign agencies that fabricated an interview with President Morsi. The presidency also pushed two cases against media personalities that used defamatory language about the president and spread false information.
This comes parallel to a report filed to the Attorney General by the lawyer representing the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt on behalf of the leader of the MB Mohamed Badie. The report levelled against the minister of mass communication, the head of the radio and television building and the head of the news sector of the radio and television building, called for then to be referred to the criminal courts for publishing offenses.
A number of media and press experts told Arabstoday that they backed the moves by the Egyptian president. They stated that the law had the final word in this concern and called for a new era between the elected Egyptian administration and the media in the coming period.
Hassan Mekkawy, Dean of the faculty of mass communication, Cairo University told Arabstoday “Undoubtedly, some writing can be considered libellous of President Mohamed Morsi, there has been an increase in unacceptable ways in which some newspapers publish direct insult and not criticism. Hence, the law sets the limit on such issues.”
The dean of mass communications said that if the criticism directed to the president was of permissible nature based on documents and facts, then the judiciary would have no part in that. Every journalist or media professional has a duty to search for the information and documents that support their criticism.
Mekkawy confirmed that he trusts the Egyptian judiciary to set matters straight, seeing as this move doesn’t represent any terrorisation of media professionals or journalists that practice rightful, constructive criticism.
Moreover, journalism professor, Hisham Atiyya told Arabstoday that “President Mohamed Morsi’s turn to the judiciary comes after distorted media “openness” during the last period. There is no need to use the policies of the late regime which extended to closing down a newspaper or channel by direct orders. Turning to court, is viable within the context of what we see as insult and direct libel against a person in the absence of criticism based on documents and proof.”
Atiyya thought the president was supposed to discuss the matter with these media professionals and journalists first, and start forming a specialised presidential team to deal with the media and hold roundtable talks once in a while, so that no one would find an opportunity for lying, fraud and inventing news stories that have nothing to do with reality.
Atiyya described how “everyone wants to know all the information concerning the president, his plans, and activities. The people do not want the blackout policy from the time of former president Hosni Mubarak”.
Atiyya called on all media professionals and journalists in Egypt to stop the insults and foul language used, saying  “we wish to work in a good frame of cooperation that raises the value of Egypt and doesn’t resort to causing a person to fail, or a whole society to be lost”.
A number of independent newspapers and newspapers affiliated with political parties had published in their latest editions insults directed at President Mohamed Morsi and not criticism. At a military college graduation ceremony Morsi stated “some are making transgressions against me, and I tell them that a person’s patience should not deceive you. Only with the law we can stop you but we start with better treatment”.

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