Lawyer and Arab Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI) Gamal Eid announced Sunday that the group’s 72nd issue of WASLA, a printed periodical that publishes various Arab bloggers’ work, has been confiscated by security forces.
Eid also said that the head of the printing press that issued copies of WASLA had been arrested, as National Security officers claimed the paper was Muslim Brotherhood-linked and encouraged the overthrow of the Al-Sisi government.
In a statement released by ANHRI, the group said security forces stormed the publishing house of the four year-old publication, confiscating 1,000 copies and the corresponding printing templates, arresting the printer in charge. Officers then allegedly refused to give information on the raid, telling ANHRI that the publication was “calling for the overthrow of the regime, incitement to overthrow the regime, and that the newspaper belongs to the Muslim Brotherhood”.
According to the statement, WASLA “aims to collect some writings of journalists and online activists on websites and social networking such as – Facebook, blogs, Twitter, and online forums,” which are then “printed and distributed for older generations” that do not read news online, offering them an opportunity to “learn about the opinions and writings of the young generations”.
The ultimate goal, according to the ANHRI statement, is to create “a bridge and link between the younger generations and older generations”.
Eid said that the raid and subsequent arrest announced “the position of the new ruling civil society, [which] represents a signal to the fate of freedom of the press and freedom of expression through the confiscation of newspaper [due to] absurd, sarcastic and ironic fabricated accusations”, which implied that the publication allegedly belonged to the Muslim Brotherhood.
ANHRI added that an investigation into the confiscation and raid will begin immediately, while the events signal what the group calls “an official campaign against civil society and human rights organisations”.
“[ANHRI] will not stop its activity and determination to bring the rule of law, no matter what the price” the group would have to pay.
WASLA issues, which are aimed at Egyptians who do not use the internet, are delivered to non-internet users and are available for free in some bookstores.
“In addition, WASLA aims to widen blogs’ reader base and spread the concept of blogging. WASLA, which targets all social classes, will act as a forum to convey bloggers’ thoughts and creativities to the public,” the website says.
The confiscated issue of WASLA is still available from the publication’s website. It is unclear whether or not it will be removed from the web.