Al-Ahram Weekly Online
14 - 20 June 2001
Issue No.538
Published in Cairo by AL-AHRAM established in 1875 Current issue | Previous issue | Site map

Journalists celebrate their day

Marking Journalist's Day, Press Syndicate Chairman Ibrahim Nafie gave renowned satirical writer Ahmed Ragab the award of merit and 52 journalists awards of journalistic distinction. Shaden Shehab attended the celebration

From top Chairman Ibrahim Nafie gives Ahmed Ragab the award of merit, Weekly's Samir Sobhi takes the first place for layout and Abdel-Wahab El-Seheiti the third place for photography
(photos: Mustafa El-Senoussi)

Hundreds of journalists headed for the temporary headquarters of the Press Syndicate in downtown Cairo on Sunday to celebrate "Journalist's Day." The occasion marked the sixth anniversary of an extraordinary general assembly that vowed to oppose Law 193 of 1995, which provided tough penalties for journalists accused of publication offences. Following stiff opposition and a united stand by journalists, led by syndicate chairman Ibrahim Nafie, the law was repealed and another press law passed in 1996. However, it, too, provided for the imprisonment of journalists for publication offences, albeit for shorter durations.

Although the mood was festive, journalists with the suspended Al-Shaab, mouthpiece of the frozen Islamist-oriented Labour Party, made sure their grievances were not forgotten. They held banners demanding the newspaper's comeback and plastered walls with pages from old issues of their publication. Al-Shaab has remained shut since May 2000 despite 11 court rulings affirming the newspaper's right to resume publication.

In the opening speech to Sunday's gathering, Nafie dealt with Al-Shaab's crisis. "We have announced very clearly our opposition to the delay [of the re-publication of Al-Shaab], which is against the constitution and the law. We have given the journalists [of Al-Shaab] their financial rights and we strove, and continue to strive, to ensure the re-publication of the newspaper and immediate compliance with court rulings," Nafie said.

The chairman assured journalists that a draft press law that drops all freedom-restricting penalties is on its way to the legislative and concerned bodies. "The Press Syndicate has also taken a strong position on removing all administrative and political obstacles that hamper the emergence of new journalistic organisations," Nafie said.

To loud and lengthy applause and the zooming-in of cameras, Nafie gave Al-Akhbar satirical writer Ahmed Ragab the award of merit. Ragab writes Nos Kelma (Half a Word) -- usually a few lines of satire -- and provides cartoonist Mustafa Hussein with ideas for the daily Al-Akhbar's cartoon on its last page.

Last year's recipient of the award of merit prize, which was initiated the same year, was renowned writer Mohamed Hassanein Heikal.

Two of the oldest Press Syndicate members, Khalil Taher and Mohamed El-Beyali, were also honoured. Financial awards and certificates were handed out by Nafie to 52 journalists. Among 12 winners from the Al-Ahram organisation, Al-Ahram Weekly's layout editor, Samir Sobhi, took first place for layout and photographer Abdel-Wahab El-Seheiti won third place for photography.

The sum of the awards amounted to LE108,000. Certificates were also given to the families of 40 journalists who died last year.

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