Mohammed Mursi

Egyptian regime puts pressure on foreign news media

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 20 August, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 20 August, 2013, 2:10am

Amid an international outcry over a bloody crackdown, the new government named by General Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi is putting concerted pressure on the only remaining news outlets in Egypt covering criticism of the violence: the foreign press.

The military shut down all the Egyptian television networks that supported deposed president Mohammed Mursi on the night the general ousted him. Now, in the last four days, the authorities have shut down the offices of the pan-Arab Al-Jazeera network, taken steps to deny its Egyptian licence and, on Sunday, arrested its correspondent Abdullah el-Shamy on charges of inciting murder and sectarian violence.

Senior officials, meanwhile, scolded Western correspondents for not portraying the crackdown in the government's terms. On Sunday, Sisi criticised foreign media for failing to appreciate his mandate to fight terrorism.

The criticisms echoed incessantly through the state and private media, and vigilante supporters of Sisi have attacked or detained at least a dozen foreign journalists, a vast majority on the day that an adviser to the president delivered the first diatribe against Western news coverage.

"One could be forgiven for saying that there is a co-ordinated campaign against the foreign journalists," Matt Bradley, a reporter for The Wall Street Journal, told Al-Jazeera's English-language sister network. He was pulled into an armoured personnel carrier by soldiers after a mob tackled him, tore at his clothes and took his notebook.

Officials have justified the crackdown as an emergency measure to save Egypt from a coordinated campaign of violence by the Muslim Brotherhood.

Scholars and human rights activists say they see signs of co-ordination between Egypt's state and private media to drive home the same messages.

Heba Morayef, a researcher in Egypt for Human Rights Watch, said: "Forgetting what is true or not, it is interesting that you hear the same thing from everybody."