Confusion surrounds decision to relaunch Al-Shaab newspaper

The Supreme Press Council headed by Ahmed Fahmy announced on Thursday that the previously discontinued Al-Shaab newspaper would be re-established, and the council would pay the salaries of the employees for one year, despite claims that such a decision is legally impossible.

The council called on the Ministry of Finance to increase the current salaries of workers by LE200 and to transfer inactive journalists to other press institutions.

The step comes as an attempt to solve the problems of journalists in a number of state-run and privately-owned newspapers that are facing financial and administrative crises.

Al-Shaab newspaper was first issued by the Egyptian Labor Party in 1979 The Egyptian Labor Party was founded in September 1978 as a socialist party, before later adopting an Islamic ideology.

In 2000, the Political Parties’ Affairs Committee, dominated by the now-dissolved National Democratic Party, froze the activities of the Egyptian Labor Party due to internal disputes with regard to its chairmanship, and Al-Shaab was discontinued at that time.

The past few years have witnessed frequent sit-ins and protests on the part of Al-Shaab journalists who demand the return of the paper, despite the suspension of the party's activities.

Abdel Hamid Barakat told Egypt Independent that in March the former leaders of the Egyptian Labor Party founded the New Labor Party — of which Barakat is vice president — which issues the New Shaab newspaper. He differentiated between the frozen Egyptian Labor Party and its suspended newspaper, Al-Shaab, on one side; and the New Labor Party and its newspaper the New Shaab on the other.

The council’s decision to reinstate the Al-Shaab newspaper was not technically possible due to the fact that the Egyptian Labor Party is no longer active, and this decision will only further exacerbate the problems of the protesting journalists, Barakat said.

Barakat said it was not possible to re-issue a newspaper affiliated to a party whose activities have been frozen, adding that the Supreme Press Council should find jobs for journalists from the suspended newspaper.

Edited translation from MENA

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