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Billboards advertising Al Jazeera reappear in Egypt

November 9, 2021 at 10:00 am

Headquarters of Al-Jazeera Media Network, in the Qatari capital Doha [KARIM JAAFAR/AFP via Getty Images]

Several pictures of billboards advertising Al Jazeera are back in the streets of Cairo and are circulating around social media.

Following the 2013 coup, Egypt cracked down on news outlets that were critical of the military-led government and was particularly harsh on Al Jazeera and its journalists because the TV station is based in Doha, which Cairo accuses of supporting the Muslim Brotherhood.

The channel had reported on the 2011 uprising that toppled Hosni Mubarak, and the events leading up to the coup.

Egypt banned Al Jazeera Mubashir on the grounds that it did not have the required legal permits and accused it of “spreading lies and rumours damaging to Egyptian national unity and security.”

Several staff members were detained without charge, whilst Abdullah Al-Shami and Mohamed Bader were accused of “threatening national security” and “possessing weapons”.

The offices belonging to Al-Jazeera Mubashir and Al-Jazeera Arabic were both raided by security forces and shut down.

READ: Egypt places female political prisoner in cell with criminals, ENHR reports

More recently, Al Jazeera journalist Mahmoud Hussein was arrested and held for four years without formal charges or trial. Mahmoud was released in February this year, one month after Egypt agreed to resume diplomatic relations with Qatar.

In 2017 Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain severed relations with Qatar accusing the Gulf state of supporting terrorism and asking that Doha shut Al Jazeera down.

Three and a half years on the regional crisis ended with direct flights resuming between Qatar and Egypt and Al Jazeera went live from the Egyptian capital for the first time in eight years.

Egyptian intelligence officers told Reuters that a Qatari foreign official pledged that it would change the direction of Al Jazeera’s coverage, but this has been denied by a Qatari official.

However, despite hopes that the rapprochement would usher in a new era of freedom for journalists, Egypt has continued to target the channel.

Al Jazeera journalist Rabie Al-Sheikh was arrested at Cairo Airport in August as he stepped off a flight from Qatar.

Egypt is one of the biggest jailers of journalists worldwide, according to Reporters Without Borders, and is 166 of 180 countries on the World Press Freedom Index.