Al-Ahram, Egypt’s largest media publishing company, had long been considered the official voice of Egypt’s ruling class. Over the last two years, however, following the toppling of former president Hosni Mubarak, the newspaper seemed to be gaining a greater degree of independence and, with it, a newfound level of authority.
Now it seems that the new Muslim Brotherhood government in Cairo has picked up the practices of the old regime with the forcing-out of Hani Shukrallah, the veteran editor of Ahram Online, the most influential English-language website in Egypt and Al-Ahram’s voice to the world.
Mr Shukrallah claimed this week that he had been pushed out by the paper’s new chairman, a Brotherhood appointee.
Mr Shukrallah’s ouster is just one of a long series of changes that have been orchestrated by the Brotherhood, — known in Arabic as the Ikhwan — in order to tighten its hold on the reins of power.
The Ikhwanization of Egypt has not been uniform, however, and a recent attempt to appoint the party’s man to the highest religious position in the country, the Grand Mufti of Al-Azhar mosque, was blocked by senior members of the mosque.
The new Egyptian constitution gives the scholars of Al-Azhar a role in ratifying new legislation, but an attempt by the Brotherhood to appoint one of its senior members as the new Grand Mufti was foiled by the mosque’s elders when they decided for the first time in its history to hold a secret ballot for the next chief.
Mr Morsi’s attitude to power has been a major reason for the resignation — and, in at least one case, the sacking — of over half of his advisers. They had been appointed last year to represent a diverse range of Egypt’s parties and constituencies.
The advisory team has lost all its Coptic-Christian members and all those of the Salafist al-Nour Party, the second largest in parliament. Nearly all the remaining advisers are either Islamists or members of the Brotherhood — or both.