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EGYPT: Journalists call for firing of colleague who met Israeli ambassador

September 17, 2009 |  2:08 pm

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Journalists working for Egypt's largest broadsheet, Al-Ahram, have called for the dismissal of a fellow writer for what they described "an act of normalizing relations with Israel" after she met the Israeli ambassador at the state-run newspaper's offices this week.

The meeting between Hala Mustafa, who's also the chief editor of one of Al-Ahram's magazines, and Ambassador Shalom Cohen sparked anger among dozens of writers as well as the Egyptian journalists union. Egypt signed a peace treaty with Israel in 1979, but many writers, artists and intellectuals oppose any contacts with the Jewish state.

"We will not let this incident pass without holding accountable those responsible," said Alaa Thabit, a member of Al Ahram staff. The journalists union has called an emergency meeting next week to investigate Mustafa. 

Outraged journalists said that Cohen's reception at Al-Ahram's Cairo headquarters was arranged without the approval of the newspaper's general director, Abdul Moneim Saied. However, Mustafa claims that Saied had knowledge of the meeting in advance and did not directly object.

"Dr. Saied met with Israeli and Jewish personalities himself many times, both in Egypt and abroad, and he even travelled to Tel Aviv in the past," she said.

It is believed that Cohen's meeting with Mustafa was part of an effort by the Israeli ambassador to organize a seminar on whether the issue of normalization of ties with Israel could help end the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.

--Amro Hassan in Cairo

Photo: Hala Mustafa. Credit:Al Youm Al Sabee

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