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Middle East
Egypt condemned for blocking media
International press institutes condemn Egyptian attempts to quell the freedom of the press as protests continue.
Last Modified: 31 Jan 2011 00:12 GMT
Al Jazeera's license to broadcast from Egypt was revoked on Sunday as authorities cracked down on the media


International press institutes have come out strongly against Egyptian authorities’ suppression of the media, following the withdrawal of Al Jazeera’s license to broadcast from the North African country.

The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) condemned on Sunday the information ministry’s move to shutdown Al Jazeera’s bureau in the country.

The CPJ described the move as an attempt to “disrupt media coverage by Al Jazeera and calls on them to reverse the decision immediately”.

The official Middle East News Agency (MENA) reported that the order was to take effect on Sunday, and transmissions originating from Egypt ceased within an hour of the announcement. Nilesat, the satellite transmission company owned by Egyptian radio and television stopped the transmission of Al Jazeera’s primary channel and others.

Reporters without borders added to the condemnation of Egyptian authorities attempt to quell the media.

“By banning Al Jazeera, the government is trying to limit the circulation of TV footage of the six-day-old wave of protests,” Reporters Without Borders secretary-general Jean-François Julliard said.

“Thus totally archaic decision is in completely contradiction with President Hosni Mubarak’s promise of ‘democratic’ measures on 28 January. It is also the exact opposite of the increase in freedom sought by the Egyptian population.”

'Press freedom violation'

The Doha Centre for Media Freedom also criticised the move, saying it was following with major concern the Egyptian authorities’ obstruction of local and foreign journalists from performing their duties in covering the unusual events currently taking place.

"The DCMF considers the harassment a severe press freedom violation and urges the Egyptian authorities to respect international laws on freedom of expression and to allow Egyptian and foreign journalists to freely cover the current events there." DCMF said in a press released issued on Sunday.

The withdrawal of Al Jazeera’s license came on the fifth day of protests that gripped the country and follows the authorities’ attempts to control the flow of information after the internet and mobile phone services were suspended on Thursday.

Mobile services were partly restored on Saturday, though the CPJ says that 90 per cent of internet connections in the country remain disconnected.

On Friday, Reporters without Borders condemned the arrest of four French journalists and around a dozen Egyptian journalists who had been arrested by authorities.

Source:
Al Jazeera
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