Mohammed Mursi

Pro-Mursi media crackdown draws outcry in Egypt

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 06 July, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 06 July, 2013, 3:17am

Egyptian authorities shut down four Islamist television stations, banned the Muslim Brotherhood's newspaper and raided the office of Al-Jazeera's Egypt affiliate in a crackdown on media considered sympathetic to ousted President Mohammed Mursi, bringing an outcry from rights groups.

The New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists said the crackdown was part of "a worrying series of moves that seemed designed to cut off coverage of pro-Mursi events".

The Arab Network for Human Rights Information called the moves "a clear violation of the law and [they are] stifling freedom of expression."

Among the closed stations was the Misr25 channel, run by the Muslim Brotherhood. It went off the air on Wednesday night just as it was broadcasting pro-Mursi protesters chanting "Down with military rule" after Egypt's military chief announced that the president had been removed.

The Brotherhood said the shutdowns were a return to the "repressive" policies of Egypt's "dark ages".

The London-based Amnesty International called the shutdowns a "blow to freedom of expression".

An Egyptian security official said the stations were shut down over suspicions of incitement and he did not elaborate.

Also targeted was Al-Jazeera Live Egypt, also known as Mubasher Misr, an affiliate of the Qatar-based Al-Jazeera network.

Late on Wednesday night police raided the station's offices, detaining 28 workers, Al-Jazeera said on Thursday. All had since been released, except the managing director and the broadcast engineer, it said.

The other stations shut down were Al-Nas, Al-Rahma and Al-Hafez, all connected to the ultraconservative Salafi movement.

No Egyptian stations have been airing live footage from the main pro-Mursi rally in Cairo.