Papers halt protesting the ‘tyranny’ of Morsi
Protests against the Egyptian president’s ‘tyranny’ mounting with papers stopping publishing for a day, and demonstrators rallying in the streets. REUTERS photoIn protest of the lack of press freedom present in Egypt’s draft constitution, set to head to popular referendum Dec. 15, the nation’s independent and opposition newspapers refused to publish daily editions yesterday.
The one-day publishing boycott was an effort to “stand up to tyranny,” independent daily Al-Tahrir said on its website.
“The Egyptian Independent objects to continued restrictions on media liberties, especially after hundreds of Egyptians gave their lives for freedom,” read a message on the Egyptian Independent’s website, its only viewable content yesterday morning. Daily Al-Masry Al-Youm said the papers were “protesting against the articles on the press in the draft constitution… and reject [President Mohamed Morsi’s] Nov. 22 decree.”
The decree gave Morsi new sweeping powers, placing his decisions and the Islamist-dominated constituent assembly, which drafted the charter, beyond judicial oversight. The charter has raised many human rights concerns, including the freedom of expression and freedom of religion. According to many activists, the new charter opens the door to implementing a strict interpretation of Islamic law.
Government newspapers, including Al-Ahram, went to print as usual yesterday.
TV channels to join protest today
Private television channels are expected to join the protest today by refusing to broadcast scheduled content, some newspapers said.
Egypt’s constitution, which was rushed through by an Islamist-dominated panel, has become the focal point of the nation’s biggest political crisis since Morsi’s election in June, polarizing opinion and causing mass civil unrest.
The latest demonstration took place yesterday, when a coalition of opposition groups, including Nobel Laureate Mohamed ElBaradei’s party, rallied outside the presidential palace to oppose the charter and the referendum.
Riot police mustered around the presidential palace after activists said they would march towards it later in the day in a “last warning” to Morsi, an Islamist narrowly elected by popular vote in June.
A few hundred protesters gathered near his house in a suburb west of Cairo, chanting slogans against his decree and against the Muslim Brotherhood. Police closed the road to stop them from coming any closer, a security official said.
Morsi and his supporters have stressed that his new sweeping powers are temporary pending the ratification of the charter by public vote.