Media censorship in Egypt has accelerated since the coup against President Mohamed Morsi. As well as fighting the free media, suppressing freedom and violating citizens’ right to information, the coup government has now decreed that Al-Jazeera’s “Live Egypt” transmissions operate “illegally”. The charge against the channel is that it broadcasts without a permit and violates professional standards. The banning order has been imposed by a number of ministers in the supposedly interim government which provides a civilian fig-leaf for the army leadership.
The authorities are clearly fearful of an independent media voice of the calibre of Al-Jazeera Mubashir Masr. According to the official statement, the station’s coverage in recent months has sparked massive popular rejection and condemnation of the coup “because it spreads rumours and claims which are harmful to Egyptian national security and threaten the country’s unity.”
The statement overlooks the repressive measures taken by the military-backed interim government, including the massacre of civilian pro-democracy protesters, arbitrary arrests and other violations of human rights. It also ignores the fact that the gains of the January 25 Revolution are being eroded gradually by the coup leadership.
Al-Jazeera Mubashir Masr is the first news channel at which work has stopped, but not the first satellite station to meet the same fate. In decisions taken upon seizing power, the coup leaders shut down all religious channels.
The Rassd media online network has also faced a clamp down, with four of its staff members arrested and one of its photographers killed.