CAIRO: Prominent TV presenter Yosri Fouda returned to the small screen Sunday night, with a new episode of ON TV program “Akher Kalam,” after a three-week hiatus.
Fouda hosted outspoken SCAF critic novelist Alaa Al-Aswany and journalist Ibrahim Eissa, the two guests that were scheduled to be on the episode which he cancelled in October in protest over what he deemed “the return of media censorship.”
“We left you almost three weeks ago to prove a stance, and tonight we return, satisfied with maintaining this stance, and [with] our very same esteemed guests. Our allegiance is always to right and truth,” Fouda said at the start of the episode.
After a touching start to the highly-anticipated episode, it proved to be anti-climactic for some, evidenced by the sarcastic reactions on Twitter to the lackluster analysis of the country’s current state of affairs. Some were also disappointed at Eissa’s perceived soft stance on the role of SCAF during the transition.
Fouda touched on a multitude of topics affecting Egypt in the past nine months, beginning with the worsening state of security since the January uprising, to the record of human rights abuses and numerous military trials, which outnumber those carried out under ousted president Hosni Mubarak and former president Anwar Sadat. He ended with the controversy surrounding the recently proposed supra-constitutional principles, as well as the upcoming parliamentary elections.
Fouda and his guests highlighted specific cases, particularly that of detained activist Alaa Abdel Fattah, the Oct. 9 Maspero events, and the recent unrest surrounding the petrochemicals plant in Damietta.
Eissa noted the lack of security in the months since the uprising, especially the lack of proper police enforcement.
“With respect to the coming elections, we’re talking about a country that is dismantled, security-wise,” he said, reiterating this point when discussing Maspero, Damietta and military trials.
Eissa’s chief grievances were that the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) had ignored solving the civil police issue, instead allowing its military counterpart to continue intervening, decreasing its sanctity and putting it into confrontation with the general populace.
He remarked that this led Egyptians to face-off directly with the military, as in Maspero, or to marginalize the law and take matters into their own hands to preserve their security, as in Damietta.
While Al-Aswany echoed similar views, he focused more on his traditional argument, that criticism of SCAF should not be taken as criticism of the army, and that the failures the country has faced are attributed to “decisions adopted by SCAF, and decisions that were not adopted, but should have been.”
The remainder of the episode saw Al-Aswany and Eissa retelling the story of the referendum and the subsequent constitutional declaration with its vague outlines for the elections and where to go after, in addition to making a stand against the use of military trials against civilians.
The three agreed that responsibility for the conundrums facing Egypt at the moment was shared by all members of Egyptian society: secularists and Islamists, liberals and conservatives, Muslims and Christians, civil and military, though Fouda noted, “with varying degrees of responsibility.”
Fouda signed off by apologizing for the longer than usual commercial breaks, and by notifying the audience that reruns of the show would now air at 2:30 pm, as opposed to the previous 5 am slot.