Cairo: Why now? Public opinion professor at Cairo University, Safwat al-Alim, asked the question in a live interview with Liliane Dawood on Egyptian channel OnTV’s program, al-Soura al-Kamila. Alim was concerned with the sudden enthusiasm of the Egyptian Ministry of Information to announce a code of ethics for the media only hours after Abdul-Fattah al-Sisi announced his candidacy for the Egyptian presidential elections.
“Why wasn’t the ministry enthusiastic about this issue in the past nine months, which witnessed absolute chaos since the fall of the Mursi regime?” he asked. The Egyptian media has not had a code of ethics all its life and the necessity to have one grew to be even more important following the January 25 Revolution. However, its establishment in this manner, without preparation, and by the initiative of Information Minister Durriya Sharafeddin, rather than from civil society and the media warranted the question: Why now? Does it actually aim to control Egyptian media in the weeks leading up to the presidential elections?
Although Sisi’s supporters are certain he will win the presidency in the first round of elections, and although Hamdin Sabahi, his main competitor, lacks media support, this does not mean that Sisi’s supporters can control everything that happens in the coming days.
This is not due to the presence of journalists opposed to Sisi, but there are those who are cheering for the Field Marshal who felt later that they did not get the results they wanted. This is suggested by criticisms revealing that Sisi’s electoral campaign is made up of members of Amr Moussa’s team from summer 2012, which left him in the fifth place in the first real democratic presidential race in Egypt’s history.
For her part, the information minister answered the criticisms directed to the code by asserting it will not be governmental, but it will be binding. However, journalists were not involved in the drafting of the code, constituting another mistake committed by Egyptian officials.
After the January 25th Revolution, several discussions took place on the issue of media ethics, but all suggestions were cast aside. Again, following the adoption of the 2014 constitution, it was expected that two councils would be established to manage the affairs of journalism and media in Egypt and that the Ministry of Information would be abolished.
Yet the ministry remains. Maybe it was to left impose this code, which includes 8 principles, 10 rights, and 25 duties, but they have yet to reach out to the concerned parties for discussion.
The above could be the reason why journalist Yasser Abdul-Aziz called for the withdrawal of the proposal, saying it violated the constitution. The head of the journalists union, Diaa Rashwan, also used the same description since it would mean that a small committee would be chosen by the government to evaluate the media’s performance.
The debate will continue. But if the code is adopted against the will of journalists, would the government be able to handle accusations that any penalties imposed on TV stations or newspapers are because they opposed the frontrunner candidate Abdul-Fattah al-Sisi?
(qouting al Akbar website)
Note: one of our connections in Egypt told us :