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Last Updated: Friday, 28 September 2007, 09:28 GMT 10:28 UK
Egypt papers agree day of protest
Egypt journalists protest - 28 September 2007
Egyptian journalists are said to be furious over the prison sentences
The editors of 15 opposition and private newspapers in Egypt have agreed not to publish on 7 October.

The action is in protest at what they see as government harassment of the printed press.

Seven journalists have recently been jailed for a range of offences, including insulting the ruling party, and misquoting a minister.

Journalist, Ibrahim Issa, is to appear before a state security court, which does not allow the right of appeal.

The newspapers accuse the government of rolling back press freedoms gained in the last few years.

Talking about the president's health shouldn't be taboo, I only said he had slight blood circulation problems. What I see is the mark of a regime gone crazy
Ibrahim Issa

Opponents of the government, ranging from bloggers to members of the banned Muslim Brotherhood movement, have been arrested in recent months.

Public anxiety over rising food prices and water shortages this summer has also put the Egyptian authorities on edge.

Thousands of workers recently took control of one of Egypt's biggest state-owned textile factories in a continuing protest over pay and work conditions.

'Anger'

BBC Cairo correspondent Heba Saleh says the Egyptian press is seething with anger at the prison sentences handed down to the seven journalists.

Our correspondent says the fact that Mr Issa, who edits the al-Dustour, is being tried in a security court is another sign of the hardening of the government's position on dissenting voices in the papers.

Hosni Mubarak (4 September 2007)
Hosni Mubarak has been in power for more than 25 years

Mr Issa's newspaper had published several front page stories saying the president was dead or seriously ill. One alleged that Mr Mubarak sometimes lapsed into comas.

State prosecutors said investors quickly took $350m (172m) out of Egypt following these stories.

"Talking about the president's health shouldn't be taboo... what I see is the mark of a regime gone crazy," Mr Issa told the AFP news agency on Thursday.

Mr Issa faces up to three years in jail on charges of undermining national security and inciting fear and panic. He is well-known as a scathing and irreverent critic of the government.

Mr Mubarak has ruled Egypt for more than 25 years but has no designated successor, although many believe his son, Gamal, is being groomed for the role.

The United States has denounced the recent moves against the press but the Egyptian government has rejected what it called interference in its affairs.



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