Press Syndicate questions Hala Mustapha over normalization

An inquiry panel at the Press Syndicate began questioning Hala Mustafa, Chief Editor of Democracy magazine, over her 14 September meeting with Israeli ambassador Shalom Cohen. Mustafa’s meeting with the Israeli diplomat flouted a ban by the syndicate’s General Assembly on any form of professional or personal normalization with Israel.

The panel listened to arguments by Mustafa during the inquiry. Mustafa’s lawer, Nagib Gabriel, head of the Egyptian Union of Human Rights, was also present.

“Investigations were conducted in a friendly and respectful atmosphere,” said Mustafa after the start of the inquiry. “We agree on a single goal: that the syndicate and the General Assembly’s resolutions should be respected even if we had different views on them.”

She said she has nothing against the General Assembly’s resolution and has not looked at its text. Al-Ahram, which is the most powerful press organization in Egypt and the owner of Democracy, does not have regulations banning any foreigner from visiting it, she said. The purpose of Mustafa’s meeting with the Israeli ambassador was to make arrangements for an international seminar to discuss the future of peace in the region, said Mustafa, who stressed that leaders at Al-Ahram were aware of the visit.

Abdel Mohsen Salama, first deputy chairman of the Journalists Syndicate and president of the inquiry panel, declined to give any details about the probe, citing observance of the panel’s neutrality in the investigation.

“We are not against her and there is no personal stance. The panel’s report addresses the circumstances of the incident and Hala has the right to respond and present her pleadings,” Salama said.

A consultative committee from the syndicate will hold a meeting next Tuesday to decide on the issue, he said.

Nagib Gabriel stressed that Mustafa’s visit was not intended for normalization but a procedural one to hold a seminar on the future of peace and Al-Ahram had been informed of the visit.

“I am defending Dr. Hala as a lawyer, not as head of a human rights organization,” he said, pointing out there is no regulation in Al-Ahram banning the visit of the Israeli ambassador.

Translated from the Arabic Edition.

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