Target: Adly Mansour, President of Egypt
Goal: Stop government closure of Al-Jazeera affiliate.
The Egyptian government is moving to end broadcasts from an Al-Jazeera affiliate, accusing it of being a “harmful to national security” because of alleged pro-opposition bias. The action, done in the name of protecting “the country’s unity,” is an ominous sign against freedom of the press in a violently polarized country.
The Egyptian government has directed agencies to close down Al-Jazeera Mubashir Misr, accusing it of operating “illegally, in violation to the profession’s standards and without a permit to work in Egypt.” This action occurred after the network included statements from two Muslim Brotherhood leaders calling for protests against the military-supported government in its coverage. Previous actions by the military government against Al-Jazeera have included the recent detainment of four Al-Jazeera English personnel in Cairo, denying the network access to equipment, and closing down the Mubashir Misr Cairo office in July.
The Egyptian government’s campaign against the network is about shutting down media believed to be in support of the Muslim Brotherhood opposition. The Globe and Mail noted “In addition to pursuing the Brotherhood’s leaders, accusing them of inciting violence, Egypt’s new rulers have tried to prevent the movement communicating with supporters by shutting down television stations sympathetic to it.”
There certainly is something to the claim of bias, with NPR noting instances of slanted coverage. However, the targeted repression of and closure of an entire news network by a government simply due to its real or perceived stance is a devastating blow against journalistic freedom, and signals that any network not aligned with the state may be targeted. By signing this petition, you will ask the Egyptian government to allow Al-Jazeera to broadcast.
Recently, it was announced that Egypt is closing down the Al-Jazeera Mubashir Misr network due to operating “illegally, in violation of the profession’s standards and without a permit to work in Egypt.” The network itself has denied this claim, arguing that it does have a license and is being targeted for its coverage. This latest action follows other moves against Al-Jazeera including the recent detainment of four Al-Jazeera English personnel, denying the network access to equipment, and closing down the Mubashir Misr Cairo office in July.
Disturbingly, your government states the closing is being done in the name of protecting “the country’s unity.” The Globe and Mail reported in an August 29 article that “In addition to pursuing the (Muslim) Brotherhood’s leaders, accusing them of inciting violence, Egypt’s new rulers have tried to prevent the movement communicating with supporters by shutting down television stations sympathetic to it.” In short, your campaign is about shutting down media which does not align with you but rather your opponents, in a real or perceived manner.
There may be evidence for biased coverage in favor of the Muslim Brotherhood opposition on Al-Jazeera’s part, but your current action of shutting down the network is chilling. Along with stifling press freedom, it asserts that all news outlets judged not to be suitably in support of the government may be targeted. I ask you to allow Al-Jazeera Mubashir Misr to remain open.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Al Jazeera Media Network via Wikimedia Commons