Is On-line activism a good enough reason to join journalists trade unions?

Egyptian activist Israa Abdel Fattah

The latest Arab revolutions which opened the doors for freedom of expression are claimed to produce new forms of corruption that are changing the pillars and foundations of professional associations and trade unions including the Egyptian press syndicates.

{jcomments on}Joining the journalist’s trade union is claimed to become a target that has nothing to do with protecting journalist’s source of income or ensuring freedom of expression and maintaining free press. Joining the journalist’s trade union became part of a plan to shelter and protect individuals who have political views, under the umbrella of the press  in the name of journalism.

One of such cases discussed at present is Israa Abdel Fattah’s membership at the The Egyptian Journalists Syndicate (EJS) . Israa is an Egyptian activist who had nothing to do with journalism. But she was singled out by Egyptian Businessman and politician, Naguib Sawiris, and offered a job as a host of a television show at prime time on his television Channel “On TV” in January 2012. Her application was sent to the national union of journalists in Egypt to offer her membership, which is still debated.

There are individuals who were nominated to join the journalists’ union after the revolution that had no previous professional work in journalism; such as Israa Abdel Fattah who has never published an article in the press before, though she was an on-line activist. This has angered many Egyptian journalists such as Abdel Jawad Abu Kab, who published an article on Egyptian newspaper, Rosa Elyoussef, entitled ‘Israa Abdel Fattah’s scandal’, protesting against her membership. Clearly, journalist’s trade union should not be used for political purposes and should scrutinise membership applications.

Israa has co-founded April 6 Youth Movement Egypt in 2008, a group established to support the workers at El-Mahalla El-Kubra industrial town, who were planning to strike on April 6. This group gradually became a popular political movement. Israa was arrested by Egyptian security in 2008. After two weeks in prison she was released, to make a brief public statement renouncing political activism for good. But she reappeared again during the January 2011 protests, calling for ending Hosni Mubarak’s regime and started to appear on Al Jazeera television channel to offer updates on the latest news of the opposition.

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