Egypt state paper apologises for 'revolution' coverage

CAIRO, February 16, 2011 (AFP) - Reporters at Egypt's state-owned Al-Ahram daily, long considered the propaganda arm of the regime, apologised on Wednesday for its "unprofessional" coverage of protests that ousted president Hosni Mubarak.

Al-Ahram "would like to apologise to readers and to the great people of Egypt for its unprofessional and unethical editorial policy during the January 25 revolution, 2011," they said, in a statement signed by 300 journalists.

They said journalists at the paper had for decades been "hostage to senior managers, chosen unprofessionally, on the basis of loyalty to the leader, his family, the ruling party and the security services."

Nationwide protests erupted on January 25 and saw violent clashes between supporters and foes of the 82-year-old Mubarak and left at least 300 people dead and scores more injured or detained.

The statement comes as employees of several pro-regime newspapers protested in recent days to demand that the editors and managers, put in place under the old system, be replaced.

Egyptian rights group, the Arabic Newtwork for Human Rights Information (ANHRI), said national newspaper editors should be sacked and replaced with journalists "who respect the mission of the press."

It said editors at Al-Ahram, Rose al-Youssef, Al-Akhbar, Al-Gomhuriya, Al-Mussawar, and October should leave immediately and accused them of switching their devotion to Mubarak to the junta that replaced him.

"Editors of state-owned newspapers supported the dictator Mubarak and made a God out of him. Now they are practicing the same cheap hypocrisy with the military council," ANHRI director Gamal Eid said.