In attacking dissidents Egypt’s state-owned press has forfeited its own professionalism

State-owned newspapers attack dissident symbols with vulgar words, abandoning professionalism to the extent that one dissident journalist has submitted a formal complaint to the Journalists Syndicate, calling for the Journalistic Honour Charter to be activated against the Egyptian media 

Over the past few weeks, the rate of attacking regime dissidents of General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi has increased.

One of those harshly attacked by the press is the family of Laila Soueif. Newspapers have attacked her son, Alaa Abdel Fattah, who is currently detained, and her daughter, Mona Seif. The state-owned AlGomhuria (The Republic) newspaper said that Laila Soueif has made her family into criminals and terrorist sympathisers.

The newspaper described Laila Soueif as “the biggest liar,” and used vulgar expressions and popular proverbs in the headlines of the report.

The newspaper published the report without an editor’s name, in what some consider an attempt to escape prosecution because the report contained clear insults.

However, journalists working for AlGomhuria newspaper told Egypt Watch that this was because the report was sent directly from one of the security services, and that it was published as it is, with security instructions, to distort the family.

Mona Seif scoffed at that report and asked on Twitter, “Oh my mother, why did we become criminals?”

Laila Soueif’s family is not the only one attacked by the government-run press in Egypt. Egyptian journalists, among them four members of the Press Syndicate Council, Mahmoud Kamel, Mohamed Saad Abdel Hafeez, Hesham Younis, and Amr Badr, were also attacked.

The largest attack was against well-known journalist Khaled al-Balshi, the former head of the syndicate’s committee of freedoms. State-owned newspapers have severely attacked the five journalists for defending their fellow detained journalists. More than 10 newspapers published simultaneous reports using similar terms and accusations, attacking the journalist Khaled al-Balshi.

Al-Balshi described the fierce campaign against him as “Samsung press”. Al-Balshi was referring to a strange incident when an Egyptian anchor read the news report about the death of the late President Mohamed Morsi during a live broadcast on a TV channel owned by the Egyptian Intelligence. At the end of the report, the anchor said, “sent from a Samsung device,” which means that the report was sent by an intelligence officer, and was not prepared by one of the channel’s journalists or producers.

After this incident, journalists describe the state-sponsored media as “Samsung Press”.

Egyptian journalist Khaled al-Balshi has submitted a formal complaint to the Journalists Syndicate, demanding the activation of the Charter of Honour against the attacks of the state-sponsored media on him, and against a number of other journalists, jurists, and activists.

Mahmoud Kamel also wrote an article in which he responded to the editor-in-chief of AlGomhuria Abdel Razek Tawfiq, who accused Kamel of being hostile to the state and the Egyptian people and of receiving funding from the European Union to this end.

“There is no definition of the state except that it is the homeland and the people, the homeland to which I belong and he does not know, and the people I am part of, at the time that he separated from them and became the mouthpiece of the power and authority,” said Kamel.

“If Tawfiq does not know the difference between the state and the regime, the difference between the state and the authority, and the difference between the state and the government, then that is a calamity, and if he knows, the calamity is greater,” he added.

Journalist Hesham Younis also said on his Facebook page that he “will remain happy that he has turned off the faucet of corruption, subsidies, grants, and gifts that are not mentioned in the documents of the syndicate.” He considered that because of this, this campaign erupted.

The simultaneous nature of the campaigns to attack journalists and human rights activists means that there is no longer free press in Egypt, but merely publications with security instructions to glorify the system and distort dissidents unprofessionally through their personal life and insulting them with vulgar words.