Al-Masry Al-Youm fined LE 150K over its election coverage

Akhbar El-Yaom

Egyptian independent newspaper Al-Masry Al-Youm was fined LE 150,000 ($8,527) over its coverage of the 2018 presidential election, as per a decision issued by the Supreme Council for Media Regulation (SCMR) on Sunday. Editor-in-Chief of the paper, Mohamed al-Sayed Saleh, and a politics reporter will be under investigation by the SCMR over publishing an article that tackles how the state's institutions interfered in the presidential election.

Egypt’s National Election Authority (NEA) submitted an official complaint against the newspaper to the SCMR on Saturday, demanding an investigation into the newspaper’s election coverage and complaining that its coverage implied that the state is interfering in the voting process. In the main headline on the front page in the first Thursday edition, Al-Masry Al-Youm wrote that: “the state is amassing voters on final day of poll”. However, the main headline in the second edition was changed to: “Sisi sweeps election against Moussa due to preliminary results.”

The first published edition's headline was considered an insult against the NEA and the Egyptian people, which must be dealt with according to the law and the Constitution, the NEA stated in the complaint. Abdel Latif el-Menawy, managing director of Al-Masry Al-Youm, apologized earlier on Friday for the “inaccurate wording” of the headline.

When asked about the paper’s decision to fire one of their journalists over the incident, Menawy said in an interview Thursday, on DMC channel, that any person has the right to express their anger and bear the consequences of their decisions. “I hope a state of relative calm proceeds, as the state should not lose any of its constructive factors [referring to journalists],” he stated.

He urged media professionals to take a step, and “launch a dialogue on social and political responsibility, and access of information during the next presidential term.” On March 29, Egypt’s Attorney General Nabil Sadek launched an investigation into the newspaper over accusations of “insulting the state’s institutions,” filed by lawyer Samir Sabry.