Chaos as MPs clash over ban on reporter

Parliament’s weekly session ended in chaos yesterday after MPs quarrelled over a reporter being banned from the session. Some MPs walked out in protest as Al Wasat newspaper reporter Batool Al Sayed initially refused to leave the Press box.

Parliament chairman Khalifa Al Dhahrani had reportedly earlier contacted newspaper chairman Farouk Almoayyed, insisting that Ms Al Sayed stay away from future sessions.

This followed a written request from the Al Menbar Bloc, following a report by Ms Al Sayed on a row between MPs Shaikh Mohammed Khalid Mohammed and Shaikh Abdulla Al A’ali two weeks ago, over a Parliament statement on the fighting in Fallujah, Iraq.

Shaikh Mohammed denied making remarks attributed to him in Ms Al Sayed’s report.

He walked out of Parliament with other Al Menbar Group members yesterday, when they saw Ms Al Sayed in the Press box.

Mr Al Dhahrani later told Parliament staff to ask Ms Al Sayed to leave, but she refused, saying she would only obey orders from her employers.

She eventually left after news editor Abbas Busafwan arrived and spoke to her, after being contacted by Parliament staff.

A row then broke out in the chamber, after MP Abdulnabi Nasser, who arrived late, demanded to know what right anyone had to order a member of the Press out of Parliament.

He and Shaikh Abdulla clashed with Mr Al Dhahrani, accusing him of being dictatorial and sectarian.

Mr Al Dhahrani called an immediate break and asked first vice-chairman Abdulhadi Marhoon to take his place for the rest of the session.

But MPs agreed during the break to discontinue the session if Mr Al Dhahrani was not prepared to continue.

A Parliament statement issued on behalf of Mr Al Dhahrani later said that he had the right under by-law 10 to ban any journalist who intentionally defamed Parliament.

Al Wasat newspaper editor-in-chief Dr Mansour Al Jamri said later that banning an individual journalist was unacceptable.

“The newspaper is being used an scapegoat for a problem between two MPs representing two blocs,” he said.

Ms Al Sayed said that this was a blow to all journalists in the era of transparency and democracy, especially from the house which called for freedom.
GDN :: Mohammed Al-A’ali :: Nov 24, 2004

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