Egyptian journalist detained for criticising controversial Israeli party in Sinai

Egyptian journalist detained for criticising controversial Israeli party in Sinai
Colleagues of Safa al-Korbiji have spoken out after her arrest, with the #SaveHalaandSafa hashtag trending on social media.
2 min read
22 April, 2022
Egypt has been courting increased tourism from Israel in recent months [Getty]

An Egyptian journalist was detained on Thursday after reportedly criticising authorities for giving the green light for Israelis to party in the Sinai amid a massive crackdown on Palestinian worshippers in occupied East Jerusalem.

Safa al-Korbiji was jailed after allegedly publishing a series of videos slamming President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi's government for allowing an Israeli music festival to go ahead as planned despite international outrage over Israel's actions at Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem.

Israeli music promoters had organised two music festivals in the South Sinai coinciding with Sinai Liberation Day on 25th April, when Egypt marks the day it regained control of the peninsula following a peace treaty signed with Israel. 

Egyptians had reacted with widespread anger to the party, accusing Egyptian authorities of normalising relations with Israel by allowing the festival to go ahead. Egypt became the first Arab state to sign a peace treaty with Israel in 1979. 

In the video, Al-Korbiji appears to angrily chastise authorities for widespread corruption against the interests of Egyptians, saying: "I've been talking for seven minutes? I could go for seven hours!"

According to local Egyptian media, al-Korbiji was arrested after a dawn raid on her home on Thursday.

Journalist Hala Fahmy was not detained by Egyptian authorities as she was not present during a raid on her home at the same time. 

Al-Korbiji's arrest led to criticism of the state from fellow Egyptian journalists and members of the public, with the hashtag #SaveHalaandSafa trending on social media. 

"The arrest of al-Korbiji proves the following: that Sisi is an insecure, failed general afraid of his own shadow; that the regime fears opposing voices; and that continued oppression will lead to inevitable retaliation," tweeted editor of Egypt Watch Osama Gaweesh. 

Unrest in Egyptian media 

Journalists Fahmy and al-Korbiji previously led a protest against the presence of Egyptian intelligence officials in state media offices. 

Regular protests at the Maspero building - home to several state media outlets - have taken place over poor working conditions, low wages, and delayed payments to journalists. 

On 6 March, al-Korbiji was suspended from her position at the state-run Radio and Television magazine by editor Khalid Hanafi after she allegedly went on strike. 

Al-Korbiji submitted a complaint to the Egyptian Journalist Syndicate, headed by Dia Rashwan, where she alleged her dismissal was arbitrary and illegal and did not reflect her actions in the workplace. 

Al-Korbiji remains in detention and her whereabouts are unknown.