Cairo: Islamists, who have taken the centre stage of Egypt’s politics for more than a year now, are openly critical of the media for alleged lack of attention to the newly elected President Mohammad Mursi.
“The government-run media in particular has ignored the role played by the president to secure the freedom of the [Egyptian] journalist Shaima Adel,” said Abul Alaa Maadi, the head of the Islamist Al Wast (Centre) Party.
Shaima returned to Cairo on Monday after she had been detained for almost two weeks in Sudan over reporting about anti-government protests in the country. Mursi brought her back home aboard the presidential plane after he talked to Sudanese President Hassan Al Bashir at an African conference in Ethiopia, according to presidential reports.
“The governmental media ignored this act, although it was the first time that an Egyptian head of state intervened to free an Egyptian citizen held abroad,” added Maadi.
The upper house of parliament or the advisory Shura Council, controlled by Mursi’s Muslim Brotherhood, did not hide its displeasure with the media either.
“The misleading media did not give attention to the news of Shaima Adel’s home coming with the president despite the furore her detention in Sudan had caused,” the Islamist-dominated council said in a statement. The council admonished the Egyptian media to “rectify its course”.
“The media is absolutely unfair to President Mursi’s foreign trips. This media has to remember the excessive prominence it used to give to the former president,” added the council, referring to Hosni Mubarak who was deposed in a popular revolt in February last year.
Mursi, who became Egypt’s first elected civilian president last month, has visited Saudi Arabia and Ethiopia in the past two weeks.
Since taking office, Mursi has been criticised in the media, including the government-run publications, for failing to “fully” dissociate himself from the influential Muslim Brotherhood. He had headed the Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party until he took the presidential post.
“We will not believe President Mursi until he completely separates himself from the Brotherhood and reins in those who speak on behalf of the presidency from the group [Brotherhood] and the Freedom and Justice Party,” wrote Ahmad Moussa in the state-run newspaper Al Ahram.
“The president and his group are emboldened by the US, which they used to brand as the ‘Big Devil” before the [anti-Mubarak] revolution. They now use it [the US] to impose domination on the state,” he added. US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton this week met Mursi in Cairo, for their first talks since he became a president.
The media-Islamist wrangling over Mursi comes days after journalists accused the Muslim Brotherhood of trying to control the state-run publications by picking editors who will allegedly toe its line.
The Shura Council, the nominal owner of these publications, has recently unveiled controversial criteria for editorship of these publications and asked journalists interested in the job to forward applications.
Officials in the council have said the aim of the move is to revamp the state-owned press institutions.
“The Freedom and Justice Party has replaced [Mubarak’s] National Democratic Party in attempting to dominate the national press,” Yehia Qalash, an ex-member of the Press Syndicate board, told Gulf News. “If the Brothers were really sincere about their call for reforming these intuitions, they would remove these institutions from the Shura Council’s control. In fact, they merely follow in the footsteps of the Mubarak regime,” he added.