Renowned journalist and writer Mohamed Hassanein Heikal issued an apology for not planning to attend a ceremony in his honour by the Federation of Arab Journalists held in Cairo on Monday.
In an explanatory statement published in Al-Ahram’s daily newspaper titled “A statement, an apology and a plea,” Heikal explained the reasons why he would not attend.
“This is a moment where people are suffocated from everything and anything, and whether the estimation is right or wrong, the media takes part of the responsibility,” wrote Heikal. “The current situation does not require honouring anyone neither with a golden paper nor with a piece of metal with a bobble,” he added.
Heikal also provided an evaluation of the status of journalism at the present time.
“The profession of journalism in my opinion faces a harder and more complicated problem [today] than it faced since our country knew it in the mid-18th century,” wrote Heikal, saying his plea concerns the crisis of credibility.
The Federation of Arab Journalists is holding a celebration to mark the 50th anniversary for the establishment of the federation where it will be honouring “old fighters” in journalism.
The group’s delegation also met with Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi, where they discussed regional and local issues, as well as the status of journalism.
In his statement, Heikal welcomed members of the federation coming to Cairo and apologised to them for not being among them, he also made a suggestion.
“[I suggest] that they shorten the celebration proceedings to keep it on a small scale, and that they spend day and night to think, search and ask, how this profession can play a role in creating a possible future instead of an impossible future?”
Heikal also wrote that he believes readers are the ones who evaluate his work, hence many years of not accepting awards or attending celebrations.
“It is difficult to evaluate the role of anyone working in public services because his records are open as long as he is present, and any real evaluation only comes after their final closure,” wrote Heikal.
Heikal wrote that he felt grateful for everything written or said about him and that it would have honoured him to welcome honoured colleagues and friends from Egypt and the Arab World.
However, he recalled what he said at Al-Ahram’s celebration of his 91st birthday at the institution’s headquarters, “I fear that the strong celebration becomes a kind of lamentation that competes with fate.”
The Federation of Arab Journalists is a federation consisting of regional of journalists’ unions and associations. It is a democratic grassroots pan-Arab organisation that works to promote free freedom, human rights and to fight for equality.
The Federation of Arab Journalists was established in 1964 and its last congress was held in Cairo in January 2013.
Source : Ahram online