19 September 1997


Court decides to ban newspaper; copies of another newspaperseized

Incident details


(CPJ/IFEX) - The Egyptian court of first instance, on 10 September 1997,
decided to ban the publication of three issues of the bi-weekly newspaper
"Al-Sha'b" as a result of its coverage of a pending libel suit initiated by
Interior Minister Hassanal-Alfi against "Al-Sha'b" editor-in-chief Magdi
Hussein and four journalists from the newspaper. The move followed
Prosecutor General Raga' al-Arabi's decision on 2 September to prohibit the
news media from covering proceedings of the case (see IFEX alert of 10
September 1997).

The suit was filed in retaliation for an article about the minister's
alleged business deals with an Egyptian government minister currently in
jail on corruption charges. The court's decision to ban "Al-Sha'b", based on
an obscure article in Egypt's penal code that prohibits newspapers from
reporting on legal actions in which they are defendants, is the latest
incident in the ongoing legal harassment of "Al-Sha'b" and Magdi Hussein.
Over the past two years, Hussein has been the target of several suits
brought by government officials and members of the interior minister's
family for the paper's coverage of official corruption (see IFEX alerts).

In a separate development, Egyptian authorities seized copies of the 17
September issue of the London-based Arabic daily"Al-Hayat". According to a
report by the news agency Agence-France Presse (AFP), censors prevented the
edition from being printed because of an article on Sudanese President
Omaral-Bashir's visit to the disputed Halaib region on the Egyptian-Sudanese

Recommended Action

Send appeals to authorities:

  • expressing grave concern over government efforts to silence critical
    journalism in Egypt-calling these actions against the press clear violations
    of the right to free expression as guaranteed by Article 19 of the Universal
    Declaration of Human Rights and Article 19 of the International Covenant on
    Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) to which Egypt is a state party (The
    ICCPR guarantees journalists the right to "seek, receive and impart
    information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of frontiers")
  • calling for public declarations on the right of journalists to pursue
    investigative journalism and the dissemination of adiversity of views and
    opinions even if such views are different from those held by the government
  • asking them to ensure that Prosecutor General Al-Arabi rescinds his ban
    on media coverage of Interior Minister Al- Alfi's libelcase against "Al-Sha'b"
  • further asking them to initiate efforts to abolish articles of the penal
    code which provide for the imprisonment of journalists for publications
    offences and implement legal safeguards to protect journalists from
    prosecution for their investigative reporting
  • calling on them to instruct the appropriate authorities to cease the
    confiscation or seizure of publications on the basis of their content

    Appeals To

    His Excellency Mohammad Hosni Mubarak
    President of the Arab Republic of Egypt
    Oruba PalaceHeliopolis, Cairo, Egypt
    Fax: +202 260 5417 / 355 5700

    Copies to:

    Farouk Seif al-Naser
    Minister of Justice
    Lazoghly Square
    Mounira, Cairo, Egypt
    Fax: +202 355 5700

    Amir Moussa
    Minister of Foreign Affairs
    Cairo, Egypt
    Fax: +202 574 9149

    General Hassan al-Alfy
    Minister of the Interior
    Ministry of the Interior
    Al-Sheikh Rihan Street
    Bab al-Louk, CairoEgypt
    Fax: +202 355 7792

    Ms Nayla Gabr
    The Human Rights Department
    Ministry of Foreign Affairs
    Corniche al-Nil, Cairo, Egypt
    Fax: +202 574 9808

    Mr Raga' al-'Arabi
    Public Prosecutor
    Dar al-Qadha al-'Ali
    Ramses Street
    Cairo, Egypt

    Please copy appeals to the source if possible.

  • Source

    Committee to Protect Journalists
    330 7th Ave., 11th Floor
    New York, NY 10001
    info (@) cpj.org
    Fax:+1 212 4659568
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