Saturday, October 11, 2008

The Egyptian State Continues to Chip Away at Journalistic Freedoms

AFP: Egypt journalists fined for papal sheikh photo

CAIRO (AFP) — A court on Saturday fined an opposition editor and a reporter 80,000 pounds (14,600 dollars) each for publishing a doctored picture of Egypt's leading cleric wearing a papal robe, a judicial source said.

Mohammed Sayed Tantawi, head of the Islamic Al-Azhar University, had filed a defamation suit against Adel Hammuda, editor-in-chief of Al-Fajr newspaper, and reporter Mohammed al-Baz on the grounds that the picture and an accompanying article were insulting.

The article was critical of Tantawi's visit to the Vatican after Pope Benedict XVI had made comments about Islam's spread that Al-Fajr said were insulting to Muslims.

The court ordered Hammuda and Baz to pay fines of 80,000 pounds and an additional 5,000 pounds each in compensation for Tantawi, Egypt's state-run MENA news agency reported.

Hammuda criticized the ruling, saying libel laws in Egypt were being used to stifle the press.
"They're coming up with ways to restrict journalists. They should annul the laws that allow judges to jail reporters," the opposition paper's editor told AFP after sentencing.

Head of the most prestigious and oldest Islamic university in the Muslim world, Tantawi is often criticized by the Egyptian opposition for his support of President Hosni Mubarak.

No comments: