Mubarak 248 88.
(photo credit: AP [file])
More than 20 Egyptian independent and opposition newspapers were not on newsstands Sunday as part of an effort to protest the country's crackdown on press freedom.
Opposition and independent newspapers' editors and opposition party leaders called for the one-day strike after an Egyptian court last month sentenced the editors of four outspoken tabloids to a year in prison for defaming President Hosni Mubarak and his ruling party after they criticized senior officials in the government.
One of the editors also faces charges in a separate lawsuit of spreading rumors that the 79-year-old Mubarak was in poor health. Another opposition newspaper editor and two journalists were also sentenced recently to two years in prison for allegedly publishing false news about the country's judiciary.
The crackdowns have raised an outcry from human rights groups and even criticism from the United States, Mubarak's top ally. White House press secretary, Dana Perino, last month said "these latest decisions appear to contradict the Egyptian government's stated commitment to expand democratic rights."
Government newspapers criticized the opposition decision to halt publication on Sunday, which coincided with Egypt's holiday marking the Yom Kippur War and the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan.
"These newspapers withdrew from the atmosphere of freedom in the victory day for vague reasons and because of pressures from an unknown power," wrote the pro-government Rose El-Youssef newspaper.
Mohammed Ali Ibrahim, the editor of another pro-government newspaper, Al Gomhuria, said the opposition newspapers halted publication for "personal issues" and never disappeared from newsstands in "protest against continued rising prices, unemployment and the housing crisis."