CAIRO: Businessman and El-Wafd Party president El-Sayed El-Badawy has bought daily independent El-Dostor newspaper, editor-in-chief Ibrahim Eissa told Daily News Egypt Tuesday.
Even though Eissa declined to mention the value of the deal, sources close to El-Dostor told Daily News Egypt that El-Badawy, also the owner of Al-Hayat satellite TV channels, paid publisher Essam Ismail Fahmy LE 20 million for the outspoken, anti-government newspaper.
Earlier this month, rumors circulated within the press community about El-Badawy seeking to buy El-Dostor to use it as an arm for the opposition party alongside its official newspaper, El-Wafd.
“El-Badawy is a businessman in the first place. He bought El-Dostor in this capacity not in his capacity as the president of El-Wafd,” Eissa explained.
“The editorial policy of El-Dostor will never change after the new management; and the reader can wait and see,” he added.
Eissa had earlier denied that there were any plans to sell the newspaper.
“I denied that the newspaper was sold but negotiations were underway and [the results were unknown],” Eissa argued.
The outspoken newspaper was founded by Fahmy with an off-shore license from Cyprus and first hit newsstands in 1995.
At that time, most of the press was controlled and run by the state which had nationalized media following the 1952 Free Officers’ Coup.
El-Dostor was a novel product on the media scene in several ways as it ran opinion articles by writers across the ideological spectrum, from Islamists to Marxists.
It also has an editorial line that exceptionally critical of the regime, focusing on corruption among high-level officials, democracy and governance, as well as a hardline stance against normalization with Israel.
The paper was eventually closed down by the authorities in 1998 for publishing a letter, allegedly by El-Gama’a El-Islamiya (an extremist Islamist group) that included a death threat against three high-profile Christian businessmen.
The publication of the letter stirred angry reactions among many readers, who felt that El-Dostor was inciting sectarian strife.
However, in 2004, the newspaper was granted a local license and appeared again as a weekly following the same trend of scathing criticism.
In 2008 the newspaper turned into a daily publication and launched its website. It continues to provide a forum for a wide variety of prominent writers while maintaining the same critical ideology.