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Published in Al-Ahram Weekly on 19 - 04 - 2018

Journalists summoned
AL-MASRY Al-Youm's former editor-in-chief Mohamed Al-Sayed Saleh and eight reporters on the paper are scheduled to appear in front of the prosecutor on 19 April after the National Electoral Commission (NEC) submitted a complaint against them for publishing “false news” during their coverage of last month's presidential elections.
Al-Masry Al-Youm's front-page headline in the 27 March first edition read “The state mobilises voters to cast their ballots”. The NEC claims the headline insulted both it and the public by implying the state interfered in the voting process.
The headline was changed in the second edition to “Al-Sisi sweeps election against Moussa”.
On 28 March the paper published an apology for its earlier headline, saying it was intended only to underline the “positive mobilisation” of voters. The apology failed to pacify the Supreme Council for Media Regulations (SCMR) which fined Al-Masry Al-Youm, Egypt's largest independent daily, LE150,000 and demanded the paper apologise to the NEC.
Days later veteran journalist Hamdi Rizk was appointed editor-in-chief of the daily Al-Masry Al-Youm, replacing Saleh.
Last week the Press Syndicate held a general meeting in which it stated its support for Al-Masry Al-Youm and insisted complaints relating to the press should be referred to the syndicate rather than the courts.
The Press Syndicate Council demanded articles 70 and 71 of Egypt's constitution guaranteeing the freedom of the press be applied more consistently and called on the authorities to respect articles which ban custodial sentences in publishing cases.
State of emergency extended
THE NATIONWIDE state of emergency was renewed for three months starting 14 April, the official gazette reported on Saturday. A day later MPs approved the presidential decree extending emergency powers.
The current state of emergency was first imposed in April 2017 after a terrorist attack targeted churches in Alexandria and Tanta and left 47 people dead.
Article 154 of the 2014 constitution allows the president of the republic, after consultation with the cabinet, to declare a state of emergency. The proclamation must then be submitted to the House of Representatives within seven days. The declaration must specify a period, not exceeding three months, during which emergency laws are in force and any extension requires the approval of two-thirds of MPs.
The April 2017 state of emergency was extended in July and in October of the same year, and in January 2018.
Parliament voted for the latest extension after Prime Minister Sherif Ismail addressed MPs. He told them that “in light of the current circumstances and to continue our efforts to root out terrorism the cabinet has decided the nationwide state of emergency should be extended for three months.”
Ismail also issued a decree extending the curfew in parts of North Sinai from 7pm until 6am. In Arish city and on the international road the curfew will be applied from 1am to 5am.
The army and police are continuing with Comprehensive Operation Sinai 2018, a major counter-terrorism campaign, and have achieved major successes in combating Islamic militants and reducing attacks in Sinai and elsewhere in Egypt.
Since 2013 Egypt has been fighting an Islamist insurgency led by the Islamic State's branch in North Sinai, formerly known as Ansar Beit Al-Maqdis. Hundreds of soldiers and policemen have been killed. While Ansar Beit Al-Maqdis is at the forefront of militant groups launching attacks against security targets, smaller militant groups — most notably Hasm (Decisiveness) and Lewaa Al-Thawra (Revolution Brigade) — emerged in 2016, carrying out attacks in Cairo and provincial governorates.

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