Cairo, Mar 1 (AP) Egypt’s flagship state newspaper today accused the parliament speaker of making “inappropriate” comments and borderline abuse of authority in a rare public spat between two of the country’s leading institutions.
The quarrel between the 141-year-old Al-Ahram daily and the speaker began earlier this week when he harshly criticized the paper’s coverage of the legislature, a 596-seat chamber packed with supporters of President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi.
Parliament Speaker Ali Abdel-Al said the paper was mismanaged and had better remember that “we finance it.” He later made conciliatory comments about Al-Ahram but that didn’t stop a scathing front-page commentary by the paper’s editor-in-chief from being published today.
Mohammed Abdel-Hadi Alaam said Abdel-Al’s criticism was inappropriate and condescending and that he should double check his facts before he speaks.
“The speaker of parliament is a man of the law who should verify his facts and not recklessly make accusations against a veneered institution,” the editor-in-chief wrote.
The spat has reignited controversy over Abdel-Al, a zealous el-Sissi supporter who has not taken kindly to criticism of his heavy-handed style of running the chamber.
Responding to recent media reports of lavish spending by the legislature when Egypt suffered an economic crisis, he said the house’s finances were a national security issue that must not be publicly discussed.
Ahmed el-Naggar, the paper’s board chairman, demanded an apology from the speaker, calling him a “minion” in a Facebook post. Al-Ahram, he added, was “bigger than those who seek to wrongly tarnish its image.”
However, the spat appears to be more about decorum in public remarks than free speech. The parliament is widely seen as a rubber-stamp house while Al-Ahram, a traditional government mouthpiece, rarely criticises or questions the president’s policies.
Earlier this week, Abdel-Al oversaw the expulsion of a lawmaker critical of the government’s human rights record and of the speaker’s suppression of criticism of the government.
The lawmaker, Mohammed Anwar Sadat, was charged with leaking a confidential draft law to foreign diplomats and of forgery. He has denied the charges. (AP)
This is published unedited from the PTI feed.