Actors union expels two stars for criticizing Egypt in US

Khalid Abol Naga (L) and Amr Waked have been expelled by Egyptian Actors Union. (AFP)
Updated 28 March 2019

Actors union expels two stars for criticizing Egypt in US

  • The union called their actions “a great betrayal of their homeland and of the Egyptian people
  • Mohamed Abdel Fattah, a member of the union, told Arab News that regardless of his opinion of the actors’ visit to the US, the union had overstepped the mark

CAIRO: The Egyptian Actors Union has cancelled the membership of two prominent former associates — Khalid Abol Naga and Amr Waked — after they attended a session in Washington, DC. criticizing the country’s human rights record. 

The union called their actions “a great betrayal of their homeland and of the Egyptian people … pushing the agenda of conspirators against the security and stability of Egypt.” 

It added that the pair would not act in Egypt again, stressing that it could not accept members it considered traitors.

Waked ridiculed the decision, describing the organization, through his official Twitter account, as “the union of political arts.” Naga said that it was important that the union should not rush to judgements, and that it should have contacted him first to ask for an explanation.

Lawyers on behalf of the organization have filed letters to the Egyptian attorney general’s office against the pair, accusing them of committing acts of treason, incitement against the state and publishing false news.

In an informal session of the US Congress in Washington, Waked called on Egyptian people not to fear the regime. 

He added that he had received threats that he would be arrested if he returned, but that it was his duty to express his opinion on behalf of the Egyptian people.

Mohamed Abdel Fattah, a member of the union, told Arab News that regardless of his opinion of the actors’ visit to the US, the union had overstepped the mark.

“There are hundreds of unemployed actors, but I do not see any activity from them on that, only decisions to persecute colleagues. I am surprised by their interest in political affairs, all the while ignoring the problems of members such as the unsafe environments under which many members work.”

Doubts have also been raised over the legality of the decision, given that it remains unclear whether Waked and Naga were notified of the intention to expel them, or even investigate them before their expulsion, contravening Egyptian law.


Turkey’s rulers plot law changes to block breakaway parties’ power grab

Updated 28 May 2020

Turkey’s rulers plot law changes to block breakaway parties’ power grab

  • President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s AKP is working on a plan to stop parliamentary deputies from transferring to other parties

ANKARA: Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) is looking at ways to change electoral laws in order to block challenges to power from two new breakaway political parties.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s AKP and its nationalist coalition partner the MHP are working on a plan to stop parliamentary deputies from transferring to other parties — a move that has fueled rumors of an imminent snap election in the country.

Under Turkish election rules, political parties must settle their organization procedures in at least half of the nation’s cities and hold their first convention six months ahead of an election date.

Any political party with 20 lawmakers in Turkey’s parliament is entitled to take part in elections and be eligible for financial aid from the treasury for the electoral process.

The leader of the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), Kemal Kilicdaroglu, has hinted at the possibility of transferring some CHP lawmakers to the newly founded parties to secure their participation in elections.

Turkey’s ex-premier, Ahmet Davutoglu, and the country’s former economy czar, Ali Babacan, both longtime allies of Erdogan, recently left the AKP to establish their own opposition groups, and have come under pressure from the AKP and MHP to leave their parties out of the race.

Babacan has been critical of Erdogan’s move away from a parliamentary system of governance in Turkey to one providing the president with wide-ranging powers without any strong checks and balances.

“The AKP is abolishing what it built with its own hands. The reputation and the economy of the country is in ruins. The number of competent people has declined in the ruling party. Decisions are being taken without consultations and inside a family,” Babacan said in a recent interview.

He also claimed that AKP officials were competing against each other for personal financial gain.

Babacan, a founding member of the AKP, was highly respected among foreign investors during his time running the economy. He resigned from the party last year over “deep differences” to set up his DEVA grouping on March 9 with a diverse team of former AKP officials and liberal figures.

Berk Esen, a political analyst from Ankara’s Bilkent University, believes Babacan’s recent statements have angered Erdogan.

“As a technocrat, Babacan gains respect from secular circles as well as the international community, which Erdogan clearly lacks. Despite being in office for 13 years, Babacan has not been tainted by corruption allegations and is known as the chief architect of Turkey’s rapid economic growth during the AKP’s first two terms,” he told Arab News.

“The legislation that the AKP-MHP coalition is working on may prevent deputy transfer only in case early elections are scheduled for the fall. Otherwise, the newly established parties will most likely build their organizations across the country and become viable for elections by summer, if not the spring of 2021.”

If Davutoglu and Babacan were successful in capturing disillusioned voters, they could prevent the ruling coalition getting the 51 percent of votes needed to secure a parliamentary majority.