By Jesselle Macatiag

Egypt currently has no laws to protect journalists and freedom of speech. That fact is becoming clear as the interim military government censures, detains and expels journalists who present opposing viewpoints.

Photo: Newseum World Press Freeedom Map Sept. 2013

The Newseum World Press Freedom map in Washington, D.C shows Egypt is among several countries where news media is losing press freedom.  Egyptian media became increasingly polarized after the election of Mohammed Morsi in June, 2012.  Since the military coup of  July, 2013, the interim government has begun censoring any news coverage of the Muslim Brotherhood.

The Al Jazeera Egypt Cairo based affiliate, known as Al Jazeera Mubasher Misr, was court ordered to cease broadcasting on September 3rd. The interim Egyptian government accused it of operating without a permit. This ban came just two days after a TV crew of sister station Al Jazeera English was deported to London. Three members of that crew were detained for several days under claims of working without a satellite transmission permit.

Al Jazeera Egypt has seen increasing pressure from the government to shut down since President Mohammed Morsi was overthrown in July. Their offices were raided and signals jammed, forcing the station to change frequencies in order to remain on-air. Several reporters and staffers were detained and accused of operating illegally. The have since been released.

Al Jazeera Mubasher Misr has been covering Muslim Brotherhood protests since Mohamed Morsi was deposed. Egyptian authorities accused the station of bias towards the Brotherhood in their reporting of the nation’s political uprising.

Egypt claims such reporting is a “national threat” and thus ordered the station to close its doors. Stations affiliated with Hamas, the Muslim Brotherhood, and Jordanian Islamist networks have also been shut down in a government effort to silence media with perceived predispositions towards Morsi.  Al Jazeera denies bias towards any political party.

The Al Jazeera affiliate continues to broadcast coverage of the Egyptian protests over a different satellite transmission. Since the court order to cease broadcasting, Al Jazeera has sought international legal action against the military government.  The Qatari owned broadcast network says it wants to, “ensure that freedom of expression and freedom of the press do not die in Egypt.”

About Sharon Kornely

Semi-retired journalist, video producer and educator. Currently tutoring children and adults in American history and English.
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