Egyptian Journalists Union reprimands two for contacts with Israel
CAIRO (WJC)–Two senior Egyptian journalists have been reprimanded by Egypt’s Journalists Union for violating the group’s ban on contacts with Israeli officials. Hussein Serag, a veteran reporter, was suspended from his job for three months for visiting Israel, and Hala Mustafa received a warning after she conducted an interview with Israel’s ambassador in Cairo, Shalom Cohen, in her office.
Mustafa is the editor-in-chief of the state-run weekly ‘Democratiya’ while Serag – an expert on Jewish affairs – is deputy editor of the weekly magazine ‘October’.
Egypt became the first Arab country to sign a peace treaty with Israel in 1979 but relations have remained on a mostly governmental level, and cultural exchanges and travel to Israel are discouraged by the Egyptian government.
The Journalists Union issued its ban on contacts with Israel in 1985. Mustafa is a senior member of President Hosni Mubarak’s ruling National Democratic Party. She is also an expert on Islamic militancy and a reform advocate. She had in the past called the ban “obsolete” and out of sync with political developments in the region. She told the news agency AP that the reprimand reflected what the heavy-handedness and the meddling in politics of security agencies, as well as the country’s “ambiguous” policy toward Israel. “My field of specialty is Israel and Hebrew. If I don’t visit Israel how can I understand these people?” Serag said. “This is hypocrisy, pure and simple.”
Israeli officials said that the actions against Serag and Mustafa were evidence that Egypt was “trying to erase the presence of Israel from the Egyptian consciousness.”
Preceding provided by World Jewish Congress