In a surprising turn of events, Egypt’s interim government has ordered Al-Faraein TV Channel to be shut down and its working licence to be revoked. Owned by journalist Tawfiq Okasha, the channel is accused of violating the media code of ethics by “disturbing the social peace and driving a wedge” between different factions in the country. The channel has been a strong supporter of the military coup which ousted President Mohamed Morsi in July.
Okasha has always presented himself as a leader of the June 30 counter-revolution and has dedicated his show to mobilising support for coup leader General Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi, the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces. In one programme, Okasha revealed that a previous attack against Al-Sisi when Morsi was in office was only a “strategic manoeuvre”. Recently, though, Okasha has turned against Al-Sisi, warning him that if he does not eliminate what he described as the “fifth column”, surprising things will happen. Okasha tried to wriggle out of his controversial statements in the following episode.
Furthermore, Okasha’s channel invited controversial ex-presidential candidate Mortada Mansour to have his own show. Mansour used this to offend and slander public figures of all political affiliations and to attack other media outlets which had refused to host him. His accusations provoked an intense media campaign against him and Al-Faraein in what has been described as a “reopening” of “old wounds”.
Some critics believe that Mansour’s controversial show is the reason for the coup’s decision to get rid of one of its most dedicated supporters; Okasha has served his purpose and is no longer needed. The man is thought to have pressed the selfdestruct button when he criticised Al-Sisi, who he once described as a “public hero”.
As if this isn’t enough, Okasha is awaiting imprisonment after a court upheld a previous 6-month prison sentence against him in a case filed by his ex-wife.