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Media watchdogs slam closure of Islamist TV stations in Egypt

July 6, 2013

By Hind Mustafa

Media watchdogs have slammed the decision to close three Islamist-run TV stations in the hours after Mohammad Mursi was overthrown, raising new questions over press freedom in Egypt.

Military-led authorities forced the Muslim Brotherhood’s Egypt 25 channel off air, and ordered its managers to be arrested.
The Islamist-run stations al-Hafiz and al-Nas were also shut down shortly after General Abdel Fattah al-Sissi, head of Egypt’s armed forces, announced the transition of power.

The Islamist television channels taken off air were known for their criticism of the liberal forces behind the June 30 uprising and were seen as propaganda media arms of the Muslim Brotherhood and associated groups.

The France-based Reporters Without Borders said it was “alarmed” that one of the first actions of the military authorities in Egypt was to close down these TV channels.

“Inaugurating a new era that is supposed to be democratic with such an act of censorship is disturbing,” Reporters Without Borders said. “Under the rule of law, a court order should be needed to close a news outlet. We call for the reopening of these three TV stations.”

New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) also criticized the move to close the three TV stations, saying that it marked a “worrying” move apparently designed to cut off pro-Mursi coverage.

“We are concerned by reports that authorities are shutting down television coverage based on political perspective,” said Sherif Mansour, CPJ’s Middle East and North Africa Coordinator. “We urge the military not to deprive Egyptians of information sources at this important juncture.”

Egyptians were divided over the closure of the stations in the aftermath of the dramatic transition of power in the country.

Wael Abbas, an Egyptian journalist, blogger, and human rights activist, told Al Arabiya that the move to close the channels was an “illegal” challenge to media freedom – adding that it did not bode well for the future. Read the rest of the story at Al Arabiya.

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