Hundreds of Egyptian youths affiliated with Islamist parties have placed the Egyptian Media Production Cities (EMPC) under siege in protest at their ‘biased-media coverage’, several media sources said.
A spokesman of the Egyptian government has said that the siege around the EMPC in the Sixth October city on the outskirts of Cairo “distorts the climate of democracy.” EMPC comprises headquarters and offices for many TV satellite channels.
A large number of Central Security Service staff failed to end the siege as the Islamists accuse the majority of the TV channels there of broadcasting “false and misleading” news.
Most Egyptian TV channels are affiliated to liberals, leftists or businessmen, and some of them are financially supported by figures connected to the regime of the deposed leader, Hosni Mubarak.
These channels are accused of inciting people against the Islamist parties, including the Muslim Brotherhood; the party which the current Egyptian president, Mohammed Morsi, is a member of.
Some of the journalists said that they were prevented from getting to work, or at least were obliged to walk for long distances on foot to get to their offices.
Talk show guests were also reported to have been assaulted and prevented from attending live shows they had been booked for. Hussien abdul-Ghani, the spokesman of the Salvation Front, said that his car was attacked on his way to the EMPC and he was to be kidnapped.
Abdul-Ghani said: “There is a clear message that we must close our mouths in order to be controlled; otherwise, we will be assaulted.”
Ahmed al-Jazzar, the chief director of On TV said: “The besiegers, who have closed all gates, barred me several time from entering the EMPC.”
The government’s spokesman, Alaa al-Hadeedi, said: “The siege of the EMPC and the aggression against workers there is not acceptable behaviour. It is not the right way to deal with opposite opinions, and it contradicts the principles of free expression.”
Many Egyptian lawyers and a number of the Egyptian citizens wounded in the clashes that took place on Friday around the Muslim Brotherhood HQ in Cairo’s Al-Moqattam neighbourhood have filed complaints against certain TV channels on charges of incitement.
The complainants said that the provocative language of the broadcasters on certain TV stations, and the false information they broadcast incites people against members of the Muslim Brotherhood.
More than 200 Egyptians were wounded in Friday clashes. The Muslim Brotherhood said that 195 of them were its members. It said that they were assaulted, robbed and carjacked. According to Muslim Brotherhood sources, dozens of their cars were burnt, and images and videos of this were uploaded to the internet.
The Egyptian president said on Friday evening that any TV channel that is proven to be complicit with anti-revolutionary figures, and any opposition figures found guilty of incitement or imparting false information will be convicted.