The need to be independent and non-partisan

Sent On: 
Thu, 2014-07-10
Newsletter Number: 

The need to be independent and non-partisan



AWR, Cairo, July 10, 2014


Egypt is a deeply polarized society. In order to remain effective and acceptable to all parties in Egypt we should refrain from defending one particular partisan cause. We should also report different angles and maintain our focus on descriptive reporting.


Different angles include writing about violent dispersals of sit-ins, but also reporting the views of Prof. Abdallah Schleifer, Judge Fouad Riad and Prof. Hassan Wagieh, who represent information that is less known in the West but that also needs to be heard in order to understand what Egypt is going through. Read here for their information and views.


Different organizations and people, Egyptian and non-Egyptian, journalists and non-journalists have gotten into trouble for taking sides. We do not view the advocacy of specific political parties or religious beliefs as our role. Some organizations and journalists have expressed fear over what they have seen happening to, for example, the journalists involved in the al-Gezira related verdicts.


We have been asked if we should not be afraid, since we have certainly touched on sensitive subjects in our reporting.


We are not afraid. We strongly believe that what we are doing is good for Egypt and believe that the approach that we have been adhering to since we started our work is the right one, also given  the current circumstances in Egypt.


Our purpose is to create an understanding of the developments taking place in Egypt, to provide a media critique if we believe those processes to be described in a very biased way, and to advocate dialogue between people of different backgrounds, Egyptian and non-Egyptian, Muslim and Christian, or other differences that might exist.


We believe that this dialogue is essential for finding ways to work towards a better quality of life for all Egyptians. Thus our purpose is to serve Egypt, not particular partisan interests.


For this reason we ask our staff and interns to refrain from any partisan stances. We have made guidelines for our staff and interns to adhere to but this has very occasionally been overlooked by some of our interns. Such a mistake, unfortunately, was made most recently by our research intern Diana Serodio, (22), who was attending a conference in Greece, when, outside the conference, she was asked to hold a banner calling for the freeing of Ahmed Maher of the Egyptian April 6 movement. The activists who asked her to hold the banner later placed this on their website without informing Diana that this was their intention of making photos of her and other participants of the conference who also had been asked to hold that banner.


Cultural Innovator Network Forum, Thessaloniki, Greece


Of course we are opposed to political motivated sentences, our role would entail investigating an issue, placing it in a wider context, and thus explaining all the facets in a ruling like this. This we have not been able to do, due to a lack of staff and capacity in our office. We could write a report after investigating this, but without being involved in any campaigning. It is thus regrettable that Diana held the banner for the campaigning purposes of the people who asked her. Diana has realized this. For more read here. The photo has had no consequences for Diana or us but it should be clear that such partisan involvements are to be avoided for anyone working with us.


Diana is doing excellent work with us on describing the Egyptian Constitution of 2014 as can be seen in the work she presented in the CAWU workshop here.




Cornelis Hulsman

Editor-in-chief Arab-West Report