Keeping the Ministry of Information is anti-democracy, Keeping Osama Heikal as its Minister is anti-revolution
Cairo, 4 December, 2011
In continuation of the conditions contrary to the requirements of the transitional phase, the Military Council and the newly appointed Prime Minister Kamal Ganzoury insist on keeping the Ministry of Information, and keeping the same Minister of Information, Osama Heikal. The latter was responsible for the incitement speech during the 9 October events, known as the Maspero events. This ministry and that minister are a defiance to the objectives of the Egyptian revolution, which has long suffered from a state-controlled media, employed in the service of the ruling authorities in Egypt.
The Egyptian people overthrew Essam Sharaf’s government after it had abused the revolution rather than supporting it. Now, even though it has not been officially announced yet, Ganzoury’s successive remarks entail that his Cabinet will not only keep the Ministry of Information, but also the Minister of Information, Osama Heikal, who has not improved or developed the performance of the state-controlled official media during the period he took over the ministry. On the contrary, the media has witnessed great decline and bias towards both the Military Council and the government, at the expense of credibility and professionalism and the right of citizens to independent media. The most prominent stages of its degradation, was the way the Maspero events were covered, in which more than 24 Egyptian citizen were killed as a result of incitement and false news by the State TV.
It is worth noting that the Ministry of Information had been abolished right after the revolution, but the Military Council and the former Prime Minister Essam Sharaf restored it and appointed Heikal as the Minister of Information the second week of the same month. A peaceful protest against his appointment as the Minister of Information rather than any of the media leaders that abound in Egypt and the media field, was organized by a number of Maspero staff inside the Radio and TV Union building (Maspero). Heikal does not have a large media experience, as he only used to work as a reporter for the Armed Forces under the presidency of the ousted dictator Hosni Mubarak.
The insistence of the Military Council on the anti-democratic and erratic path is evident in the restoration of the Ministry of Information and the ongoing post of Osama Heikal as the Minister of Information at the so called government of National Salvation. In addition to flustering at selecting the ministers and the powers invested in them, the Military Council is determined to perpetuate many of the representatives and ministers of the former autocratic regime (the remnants) that were primarily targeted by the Egyptian revolution
ANHRI affirms again that media reform and development, is only granted by the assistance of media professionals and discussion with media leaders, associations, and committees that were formed within the Radio and Television Union, or the many that were set up by civil society institutions. Opinion monopoly and insistence on negligene of all reform initiatives, would only lead to further deterioration in the Egyptian media scene, especially the official media.