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‘Al-Masry Al-Youm’ – A personal dream and a shared aspiration

Two decades may seem like a short period in the long and rich history of our country, but it is not so in the history of Egyptian journalism.

Egyptian journalism really only began in 1827 when Muhammad Ali issued the “Journal of the Khedive,” which in the following year transformed into “Egyptian Affairs.”

And from “Egyptian Affairs”, over the years, emerged all the independent newspapers we have known since.

Whereas some major media institutions such as “Al-Ahram” and “Dar Al-Hilal” have surpassed a century in age, the Egyptian press scene witnessed a large number of other newspapers struggling to find their place among the giant trees which blocked the sunlight from the newborn grass.

They faced financial and political difficulties that led to their closure after a long or short time.

Two decades ago, in an era when freedom of the press was not a celebrated virtue and private sector ventures, whether in journalism or other fields, were not at their peak, Al-Masry Al-Youm was born. Its voyage began in stormy waters, often threatened by the rocks of political restrictions and censorship.

Al-Masry Al-Youm was driven by a dream, and as you know, dreams have immense power.

They mobilize people, build empires, and establish civilizations. Al-Masry Al-Youm’s dream rooted itself in a pioneering experience in Egyptian journalism: the experience of national fighter Tawfiq Diab (1886-1967), the founder of Al-Jihad newspaper (1931-1938). Despite its short lifespan, Al-Jihad was the voice of the people’s struggle against British occupation.

Al-Jihad’s dream continued over the years, finding new life in Tawfiq Diab’s grandson, Salah Diab.

Despite his success as a businessman, Salah Diab was not deterred from pursuing his grandfather’s dream of establishing an independent national newspaper that expresses the voice of the people and champions their causes.

The political climate and circumstances were vastly different between the 1940s, when Tawfiq Diab founded his newspaper, and the early 21st century, when Al-Masry Al-Youm was born at the hands of four prominent Egyptian businessmen – Kamal Diab, Naguib Sawiris, Ahmed Bahat, and Akram Kartam.

Recognizing the value and power of the dream, they embarked on this risky venture alongside Salah Diab.

As the editors-in-chief succeeded each other since the newspaper’s establishment in 2004 recount their experiences, many facets of the political life we lived before the January 25th Revolution will be unveiled.

What set Al-Masry Al-Youm apart from other similar and contemporary experiences was its alignment from the outset with the rising new generation of youth. The spread of modern communication tools had opened them up to the world, and they were not content with the state of stagnation that had prevailed for the thirty years preceding the revolution.

While some newly established newspapers at that time relied on the “veterans” of the older generation of journalists, as did Al-Wafd and Al-Ahram, or on the middle generation – such as Sawt Al-Ummah and Al-Dustour – Al-Masry Al-Youm was built on the young shoulders of a new generation with diverse backgrounds and orientations.

The only thing that united its members was their rejection of the old and their aspiration for the new. Some of them were joining the journalistic profession for the first time.

Thus, Al-Masry Al-Youm’s experience injected fresh, diverse, and new blood into the journalistic landscape making the newspaper, from its inception, a free liberal platform for all the prevailing trends and opinions in society, all of which aspired to the new free society under the banner of democracy.

When the January 25th revolution erupted, Al-Masry Al-Youm became its voice.

Its extensive and unique coverage of the revolution’s developments, such as the “Ward al-Li Fatah Fel Ganayin” (Roses Opened in the Gardens) report, is still etched in memory.

Protesters in Tahrir Square would raise Al-Masry Al-Youm pages alongside their revolutionary banners.

Al-Masry Al-Youm also stood guard against those who hijacked the revolution and appropriated it for their own aspirations. I recall that, throughout the rule of that group, I dedicated my daily column in Al-Masry Al-Youm to confronting those policies.

Those articles, which I later published in a book, became a daily record of that miserable year in our modern history.

Just as Al-Masry Al-Youm stood with the January 25th Revolution, its editorial team was at the forefront of the popular forces that orchestrated the June 30th Revolution, reclaiming it from those who had seized it.

The newspaper, subsequently, embarked on the battle to draft a new constitution for the country, followed by the presidential elections that finally placed the country on the threshold of stability after the post-revolutionary chaos.

And now, Al-Masry Al-Youm completes two decades, embarking on a journey towards the horizons of the future, reaffirming the achievements that have been made, while not overlooking the suffering and sacrifices borne by our great people as they engage in one of the fiercest battles surrounded by dangers from all sides.

In this endeavor, they draw strength from the grand national dream that destiny has bestowed upon us: for Egypt to attain the position its glorious history demands and as its ancient heritage dictates.

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