Egyptian newspapers go on strike to protest draft constitution


Several Egyptian newspapers on Tuesday suspended publication to protest both the recently issued presidential decrees and the draft constitution, some of them carrying dramatic front pages headlined "No to Dictatorship."

Al Ahram Online reported that 12 Egyptian newspapers will not go to print and five TV channels will go off air Tuesday. Some of them run a media strike poster that reads in Arabic “a constitution that terminates rights and restrains freedoms. No to dictatorship”

Egypt independent carried a statement on its website saying, “You are reading this message because Egypt independent objects to continued restrictions on media liberties, especially after hundreds of Egyptians gave their lives for freedom and dignity.”

Ahram Online, in a statement posted on its Website, “declares its full support for the strike action undertaken on Tuesday by a large number of major Egyptian newspapers and TV stations in defense of freedom of the press, freedom of expression, civil liberties and the rule of law.”

“In view of our particular status as a web-based news outlet, however, we will maintain our updates throughout this crucial day of protest, not in contravention of the strike action, but in full solidarity with it,” the statement by Ahram Online added.

Online media did not go on strike in order to cover to newspapers strike. Some of the papers that went on strike included: Al-Masry Al-Youm, Al-Watan, Al-Tahrir, Al-Wafd, Al-Youm 7, Al-Dostour, Al-Shorouk, Al-Sabah, Al-Ahaly, Al-Ahrar, Al-Fagr and Osbooa.

The draft constitution which will be set to vote on Dec. 5 allows for the imprisonment of journalists in cases related to freedom of expression, and this has prompted wide discontent among the media.

The executive council of the Journalists Syndicate had pulled out in November from the Constituent Assembly drafting the constitution after its recommendation and demands were ignored.

Farrag Ismail, a veteran Egyptian journalist, criticized Egyptian media going on strike, saying their demands were not realistic.

“They do not want journalists who defame and slander people to be imprisoned, this is unrealistic,” he said, adding that “if such door is opened, even in cases involving public figures, Egypt will plunge further into chaos.”

Egypt opposition to march on presidential palace

Opponents of Mursi were to march on the presidential palace on Tuesday to protest his power grab and a controversial draft charter, as the country plunged deeper into crisis.

Five marches were set to take off at 4:00 p.m. (1400 GMT) from several mosques in Cairo towards the Itihadiya presidential palace in the upscale neighborhood of Heliopolis, organizers said.

Security measures have been tightened around the capital, with some schools and businesses closing early for the day.

A Nov. 22 decree issued by Mursi expanding his powers and enabling him to put to a Dec. 15 referendum a draft constitution -- rejected by liberals, leftists and Christians -- has sparked strikes and deadly protests.

The constitution has become the focal point of a political and ideological battle in Egypt between Islamists who support Mursi and the largely secular-leaning opposition.

The charter has been criticized for failing to protect key rights and for paving the way to a strict interpretation of Islamic law.