Cairo, Asharq Al-Awsat- The Islamonline website is in a state of unprecedented turmoil after its management in Qatar decided to move its operation from Cairo to Doha.
But Muhammad Abdul-Karim, the lawyer for the “Qatar Media International” company, which is responsible for the website’s contents, talked about “suspicions of corruption within the company”, which employees denied and subsequently accused the lawyer of “prevarication in the negotiations with them.”
The website employees (338 journalists, technicians, administrators, and workers) staged a sit-in at its offices in the 6 October City (west of Cairo) and refused to leave in a bid to protect their financial rights and employment status fearing that the management might close the offices and leave Egypt without settling the situation in the correct legal way and according to Egyptian labor laws.
Lawyer Muhammad Abdul-Karim told Asharq Al-Awsat: “Some of them refused to let me investigate certain incidents and the whole thing changed totally when we talked about releasing editorial material from Qatar instead of Cairo.” He added: “The material was released on the website in the past from Cairo but the management decided it is better to send it to Qatar and release it from there.”
The employees believe the crisis began when the board of directors was changed and Engineer Ali al-Imadi was appointed general manager of the Qatari Al-Balagh Society which owns the website. Employees are saying that Islamiyoun and Ishrinate websites, branches of Islamonline, were closed few days ago. Islamonline was set up 10 years ago and succeeded in occupying a leading position among the religious websites which present a centrist image of Islam, according to them.
More than 250 employees sent a letter to Dr. Yusuf al-Qaradawi asking him to intervene to solve their problem but the society’s management in Qatar referred all of them to investigation. Asharq al-Awsat tried to contact Dr. Al-Qaradawi but he did not answer his telephone.
Sources among the employees said the company asked its legal adviser Isam Sultan to question the employees who had appealed to Al-Qaradawi but Sultan refused to do this saying they did not violate any of the rules. The company appointed another lawyer to negotiate with the employees. Adil al-Qadi, the website’s deputy editor, urged Qatari officials to intervene to solve the problem. The employees are demanding fair compensation if the management decided to shut down the website and set their demands at the payment of six months’ salaries in addition to the compensation that the law stipulates. The company’s lawyer said on the other hand: “Anyone who wishes to leave will get his dues and those who decide to stay are welcome.”