Media Wars in Egypt: The Revolution Continues With Journalists in the Crosshairs
By Courtney C. Radsch
Upon taking power and unseating the first democratically elected (if not necessarily governing) president, the military immediately shut down several Egyptian and Arab television stations and arrested numerous journalists. Dozens of journalists remain in jail and several stations off-air amid the military’s assertion that it was carrying out the will of the people and not in fact executing a coup. It is deeply problematic to make statements about the promotion and assurance of democracy amid a wide ranging crackdown on the media and journalists.
Wednesday night the Al Jazeera English ticker was reporting that another Al Jazeera station had been shuttered even as it was covering the jubilance in Tahrir Square as the millions of Egyptians gathered to demand Morsi’s ouster got what they wished for. Al Jazeera Mubashr (the live feed station) was closed within what appears to be minutes of the military’s announcement that Mohamed Morsi was no longer president. Apparently the channel was broadcasting Morsi’s speech rejecting the military’s overthrow. The Arabic channel was also raided and its equipment confiscated.
Staff from both channels were detained, according to the channel, with 25 journalists released shortly after although the managing director and broadcasting engineer remain in detention.
The military also raided several other television stations affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood, which was prevented from owning mainstream media outlets under former president Mubarak. Misr25, the MB’s news and commentary station, went off air within minutes of General al-Sisi’s speech as did the pro-Morsi Al-Hafiz, al-Rahma and Al-Nas stations, all of whose offices in Media Production City were entered by police and at least 35 media personnel arrested. Misr25’s live feed to Al Jazeera English and YouTube went black, media reported, not a good start for democracy, which relies on freedom of expression and an informed public.
Gen. Sisi called for the creation of a media charter of honor, though the phrasing sounds ominous and unlikely to indicate his interest in self-regulation. The roadmap he laid out included reference to: “A media charter of honour shall be designed in a way that ensures media freedom; observes professional rules, credibility, and neutrality; and advances the homeland’s top interests.” I’m pretty sure that arresting journalists and shutting down media outlets does not ensure media freedom… just saying. Read the rest of the story at Huffington Post.