Following a two-and-a-half-month strike, the demands of the journalists at the Egyptian literary newspaper Akhbar al-Adab have been met: the old editor-in-chief is gone and a new one, Abla El-Roweyni, is in place.
In the words of acclaimed novelist and Akhbar al-Adab editor Mansoura Ez Eldin: “I guess it’s the first time in the Egyptian national journalism that the journalists chose their editor.”
The core demand of strikers was the removal of the previous editor-in-chief, Mustafa Abdullah, who had been placed in charge of the paper in January after long-time editor-in-chief Gamal al-Ghitani stepped down. Authors went on strike in the first week of March (read their statement here). And, as Hala Salah Eldin Hussein wrote in Al Ahram Weekly:
Regular readers of Akhbar Al-Adab have been stunned by the lack of talent and coherence in issues published after the strike; sales have plunged dramatically, and one reason for the strike — so say the 10 staffers — is a last-resort attempt to save the newspaper, saving it from ideas and practises that might make it party to twisting the aspirations of the revolution and tarnish its name for good.
Hussein had hopefully added:
If ever removed, Abdullah will be the first editor in Egypt kicked out of his post by the will of the journalists working with him; this would entirely redefine the editor-journalist relations, making staffers their editors’ equals and possibly restructuring the limits of what can be said — perhaps actively engaging in politics. Just maybe, an entirely new press scene will be born.
Akhbar al-Adab‘s new editor, El-Roweyni, is both a literary journalist and an author. Her most well-known work, الجنوبي or The Southerner, is about her relationship with her late husband Amal Donqol. It has not been translated into English (I don’t think), but perhaps it’s about time.
Reaction on Twitter has run from pleased to delighted:
It’s exciting to wake up to news about Abla al Roweny being the new editor of Akhbar al Adab
عبلة الرويني رئيسا لتحرير أخبار الأدب بدلا من مصطفى عبد الله..للي ميعرفش عبلة الرويني دي تبقى زوجه الشاعر الراحل امل دنقل Good Choice #Egypt
#adab عبلة الرويني رئيسا لتحرير أخبار الأدب..ياله من خبر سعيد..مدد يا جنوبي 🙂