The presidency has intervened to reinstate radio presenter Aida Seoudy, who had been suspended following on-air comments about the killing of protesters following the dismissal of former president Hosni Mubarak’s murder charges.
Seoudy was suspended from her post on Monday evening as a presenter and programme controller of an Egyptian radio channel. The suspension follows on-air comments Seoudy made, saying that people have the right to protest against the Cairo Criminal Court’s decision to drop all charges against Mubarak.
She had added that she was dismayed “demonstrators who went out to protest against the innocence of the people who killed their friends during the revolution were killed by those same people”.
Protests broke out next to Tahrir Square on Saturday after Mubarak’s murder charges were dropped. The charges were linked to the killing of protesters during the 25 January Revolution.
Two people were killed and 15 injured in their violent dispersal of the anti-Mubarak protests on Saturday.
University students around the country protested the following day against the court’s controversial decision.
Seoudy had said that it was her right as a presenter to feel sadness and pain because of such a ruling, and to feel crushed from people celebrating Mubarak’s innocence. “Manipulating awareness is one thing, but manipulating [25 January Revolution] days which we lived ourselves is something I do not understand,” the presenter said.
Seoudy said that if protests are illegal under the Protest Law, then this should include celebrations as well. The controversial Protest Law has been used to disperse protests and detain activists since its came into effect in November 2013.
“If people have the right to celebrate the jurisdiction, others have the right to take it to the streets to show objection,” she said.
During a meeting between President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi and media personnel on Tuesday evening, Al-Sisi criticised Mubarak, what triggered one of the attendees to bring up Seoudy’s case. The president replied that he had no idea about the incident, according to Seoudy. After the meeting, Seoudy got a phone call from the presidency informing her that she will resume her position.
Seoudy’s contract had been automatically renewed on 30 November for the past three and a half years. After her comments, the CEO of the radio network told her that this year the contract would not be renewed, without giving any reasons.
“It is a long road that we have to take,” she said, adding that winning “small battles” like this one gives hope for freedom of expression.
The Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI) issued a statement on Tuesday saying the incident shows there is a clear attempt to protect the defunct Mubarak regime. It added that there has also been a move to silence those who object to the ruling, leaving the scene to only to those who celebrate governing”.
ANHRI said that the suspension was a clear violation of freedom of opinion, freedom of expression, and freedom of the press. ANHRI had also called on the management to adhere to neutrality and professionalism, and to allow space in the media for different views.
The Association for Freedom of Thought and Expression (AFTE) criticised the “incomplete independence and defective professionalism” of the Egyptian media, in a report published Tuesday.
Since the toppling of Islamist president Mohamed Morsi in July 2013, media coverage has changed, showing “loyalty to the regime” and divulging “propaganda” rather than abiding by the field’s standards of professionalism, according to the report.