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Behind Egypt’s media crackdown

July 8, 2013

From Al Jazeera

It is a new political dawn in Egypt and a new reality for the country’s media after the country’s military went on a media clampdown.

It shut down four religious TV stations, banned the Muslim Brotherhood’s newspaper and raided the office of Al Jazeera’s Egypt affiliate, Mubasher Misr, sparking outrage and mounting condemnation of the closures from rights groups around the world.

The authorities claimed Mubasher was operating without a proper broadcasting license although the channel has been established in Egypt for several years.

Muslim Brotherhood channel, Misr 25, and others including Al Jazeera’s Arabic channel, were taken off the air on Wednesday night, following a military coup that removed the democratically elected president.

No reason was given for shutting down Aljazeera Arabic but the station, along with other channels, did air a defiant speech by Mohamed Morsi as he was being ousted as president.

Staff were taken to a nearby police station and questioned for several hours, transmission equipment was confiscated and both channels remain unable to broadcast live from Egypt.

The global news agency Associated Press Television News (APTN) was told by Egyptian authorities to deny Al Jazeera channels access to their live Egyptian coverage from Tahrir Square and elsewhere. And a local service provider Cairo News Company was told not to provide Al Jazeera with broadcasting equipment like satellite trucks.

Al Jazeera Media Network’s acting director general, Mostafa Souag condemned the actions:

“There are big events taking place in Egypt and the world tunes in to Al Jazeera at times like these. The viewing public will not accept being cut off from news and information. Regardless of political views the Egyptian people expect media freedoms to be respected and upheld.”

The stations are accused of being pro-Mohamed Morsi, who was overthrown by the military after days of angry protests.
The move is prompting questions about just how free the media can now be in Egypt under the new transitional government that is being formed. Read the rest of the story at Al Jazeera.

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