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The Egyptian Organization for Human Rights

Confiscation of first two issues of Alf Lela newspaper

Wednesday 19 August 1998


The Egyptian Organization for Human Rights (EOHR) is seriously concerned
about the news of the confiscation of the first and second issues of Alf
Lela newspaper and its banning form entering Egypt.  Alf Lela is an art
newspaper licensed in Cyprus and is among foreign publications subjected to
the Censorship Department at the Ministry of Information.  The EOHR has
learnt that the reason given for the confiscation of the first issue of 12
August 1998 was that it included political articles, a reason which was
described by Ibrahim Eissa, the paper's editor-in-chief, to be invalid.  He
said that the paper only commented on a movie on Gamal Abdel Nasser, which
is on now at many cinemas.  He added that the issue also included a story
that the late president Anwar Al-Sadat watched a film in a special
performance, and that this is not among prohibited subjects!

The second issue of 19 August 1998 was confiscated without giving reasons!

It must be noted that the staff working in Alf Lela is the same staff
worked for Al-Dostour newspaper, whose license to be printed and
distributed in Egypt was cancelled by the head of the Censorship Department
of the Ministry of Information on 26 February 1998.  The cancellation was
made by a verbal decision which made it impossible for Al-Dostour to file
an administrative challenge.  It was associated with the dissatisfaction of
some officials and businessmen with an article it issued on 25 February
1998 entitled "Terrorist groups threat to kill the most important three
businessmen in Egypt."  The article was viewed as provoking sectarian
strife in Egypt.

The EOHR strongly condemns the confiscation of Alf Lela, and believes it to
be an attack on the freedom of the press, and a violation of the freedom of
opinion and expression.  It calls on the Press Syndicate and all civil
society institutions to combine efforts to confront the continuos attacks
on the freedom of the press.  It also appeals to the competent authorities
to reconsider this decision, and to guarantee the freedom of thought and
expression, and the freedom to receive and impart information stated in the
Constitution and international human rights standards ratified by Egypt.

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This document is published online by Derechos Human Rights. Derechos works against violations to human rights and humanitarian law all over the world.