File: Hamdy Rizk
CAIRO - 8 April 2018: Famous writer and journalist Hamdy Rizk has been appointed to be the editor-in-chief of popular daily newspaper Al-Masry Al-Youm, two days after Mohamed al-Sayed Saleh was dismissed from the post over its coverage of the 2018 presidential election.
Rizk, born in 1964, is specialized in the affairs of “political Islam,” and was long categorized as a strong opponent of the Muslim Brotherhood in the political scene of Egypt over decades. He has written for Al-Masry Al-Youm since its establishment in 2004.
He was previously the editor-in-chief of state-owned Al-Musawar magazine from 2009 to 2013 and is the author of the book “Kýrie, Eléison.. in the love of Copts,” which documents the position of Coptic Egyptians since the January 25 Revolution in 2011 until January 2018.
Saleh and a politics reporter were investigated by the Supreme Council for Media Regulation (SCMR) over publishing an article that tackles how the state's institutions interfered in the presidential election. Saleh was dismissed by the board of directors of Al-Masry Al-Youm, but will continue to contribute articles to the newspaper.
On Sunday, Egypt's state-run SCMR fined the newspaper LE 150,000 ($8,527) over its coverage, two days after the National Election Authority (NEA) submitted an official complaint against the newspaper to the SCMR. The NEA had demanded an investigation into the newspaper’s election coverage and complained that its coverage implied that the state is interfering in the voting process.
In the main headline on the front page in the first edition on March 29, Al-Masry Al-Youm wrote: “the state is amassing voters on final day of poll”. However, the main headline in the second edition was changed to: “Sisi sweeps election against Moussa due to preliminary results.”
The first published edition's headline was considered an “insult” against the NEA and the Egyptian people, which must be dealt with according to the law and the Constitution, the NEA stated in the complaint.
Abdel Latif el-Menawy, managing director of Al-Masry Al-Youm, apologized on March 30 for the “inaccurate wording” of the headline.
When asked about the paper’s decision to fire one of their journalists over the incident, Menawy said in an interview Thursday, on DMC channel, that any person has the right to express their anger and bear the consequences of their decisions.
“I hope a state of relative calm proceeds, as the state should not lose any of its constructive factors [referring to journalists],” he stated.
He urged media professionals to take a step, and “launch a dialogue on social and political responsibility, and access of information during the next presidential term.”
On March 29, Egypt’s Attorney General Nabil Sadek launched an investigation into the newspaper over accusations of “insulting the state’s institutions,” over its headline, after a lawsuit was filed by lawyer Samir Sabry.
Also, Dokki prosecution ordered a 15-day detention period for the editor-in-chief of Masr Al-Arabiya, Adel Sabry, pending an investigation over allegations of joining a terrorist group, publishing false news and managing an unlicensed news website, on Thursday.
A statement from the Interior Ministry stated that the Egyptian security forces arrested Sabry based on charges of operating a news website without a license on Wednesday. According to sources, security raided the office of the news website in the Dokki district of Giza on Tuesday evening, and closed the office.
The incident came two days after the SCMR announced imposing a fine of LE 50,000 ($2,836) on the news website for republishing a New York Times’ report of alleged violations during the 2018 presidential election.
According to media reports, a member of the Egyptian Press Syndicate’s board said the syndicate will respond to the incident, following a formal decision by the general prosecution regarding Sabry.
In May 2017, Egyptian authorities decided to ban 21 news websites, including Masr Al-Arabiya and Qatari-based Al-Jazeera, for "supporting terrorism and publishing fake news."