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Egypt's journalist union rejects membership of dozens of journalists

Egyptian MP Mahmoud Badr on February 14, 2015 in the town of Shebin Kanater in the area of Qalubiya, north of the Egyptian capital Cairo [MOHAMED EL-SHAHED/AFP via Getty Images]
Egyptian MP Mahmoud Badr on February 14, 2015 in the town of Shebin Kanater in the area of Qalubiya, north of the Egyptian capital Cairo [MOHAMED EL-SHAHED/AFP via Getty Images]

Dozens of Egyptian journalists who have applied for membership in their professional union have been rejected without a reason, Al-Araby Al-Jadeed has reported.

At the same time, several employees of newspapers but working different jobs, such as secretaries, were accepted into the union by recommendation from their editors in chiefs, the news site added.

MP Mahmoud Badr is one of the most prominent figures to have been accepted, even though he has worked in politics for ten years and has never been a journalist.

In 2019 Badr voted in favour of amendments to the constitution which saw Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi remain president beyond his second term.

MP Marcel Samir's application to join the union was also accepted.

This has been an ongoing issue in the country with Egyptian journalists living abroad having their membership cancelled.

In 2016 security forces arrested leading members of the union which was described as "unprecedented" in its history.

READ: New leaks allegedly prove bribery, corruption among Egypt's presidential advisers

In May of that year, 40 police officers raided the union's office and arrested two journalists Mahmoud Sakka and Amr Badr who had been hiding there after being accused of publishing false news and inciting protests.

According to the Committee to Protect Justice's latest report, Egypt is the third-worst jailer of journalists worldwide with an estimated 25 reporters behind bars.

Freedom of press in Egypt - Cartoon [Latuff/MiddleEastMonitor]

Freedom of press in Egypt – Cartoon [Latuff/MiddleEastMonitor]

It is the seventh year in a row that Egypt has been among the top three countries and has the highest number of journalists behind bars in the Arab world.

Most of them are accused of joining terror groups and publishing false news and remain on pretrial detention.

The Egyptian government tries to tightly control the narrative on certain issues, for example, the coronavirus pandemic, and when a journalist deviates from this, they face jail time.

Some journalists have been referred to emergency state security courts where sentences cannot be appealed. Recently, journalists Hossam Monis and Hisham Fouad have been sentenced to four years in prison for conspiring to commit crimes with an outlawed group. Amnesty International said their sentences were the result of their "peaceful political activities."

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