Ambassador Cohen
Photo: Reuters

Egyptian journalist suspended for visiting Israel

Journalists union suspends 'October' editor for three months after he says he visited Israel more than 25 times; another editor warned for receiving Israeli ambassador at her house

Egypt's journalists union suspended the editor of the magazine "October" for visiting Israel, while another editor was warned for meeting with Israel's ambassador to Cairo.


Local media reported Tuesday that Hussain Serag was suspended by the union's disciplinary committee for three months after he said he had visited Israel more than 25 times, thus violating a union ban on visits to the Jewish state.


Separately Tuesday, Egypt's journalists union issued a warning to another magazine editor after she received the Israeli ambassador in her house, prompting her to cry foul over freedom of the press.


Hala Mustafa, editor-in-chief of Al-Demoqratiya magazine, stirred up a controversy in September after receiving Israeli envoy Shalom Cohen.


A five-member panel, citing union rules barring support for normalization of ties with Israel, issued a warning against Mustafa, rather than taking more serious action.


"We limited ourselves to issuing a warning because the commission's job is not to punish or seek vengeance against a colleague but to guarantee decisions are taken in a democratic manner," said panel member Gamal Fahmi.


'Moral injury'

Any act of normalization with Israel by union members can lead to a reprimand or even expulsion.


The committee "took into account" that Mustafa had "given assurances she was not familiar with the details of this ruling on normalization. She thought it only applied to travelling to Israel."


He added that Mustafa had agreed to respect the 1981 ruling, something she would neither confirm nor deny.


However, she said she "totally" rejected the warning, telling AFP she might even turn to the courts for redress of what she said was a "moral injury."


"It goes against freedom of expression ... which the union should protect," she added.


In 1979, Egypt was the first Arab country to sign a peace treaty with Israel, but there continues to be a generally hostile popular attitude towards anything implying normal relations between the two neighbors.


The Israeli embassy said, "The unions in Egypt continue to hurt any initiative aimed at improving relations between the countries."


AFP contributed to the report


פרסום ראשון: 02.03.10, 08:07
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