Cairo, Asharq Al-Awsat—The Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood is reportedly preparing to launch a new TV channel and newspaper from abroad, in an attempt to circumvent an official ban on its activities in Egypt.
The TV channel—named “Rabaa”—will be based in Turkey’s second city, Istanbul, and was launched with the slogan “The Pulse of Freedom.” The organization’s new newspaper, as yet unnamed, will be based in London.
The move was announced on the official Facebook page of Ehab Shiha, a coordinator of the pro-Mursi Alliance for Legitimacy coalition. A post on Shiha’s page says the channel will be “a platform for the free and a symbol of honor and justice in the Arab and Muslim world.”
Analysts say that the launch of the TV channel from Turkey may increase tensions between Cairo and Ankara. Relations between the two countries have worsened following Turkish leader Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s criticism of the overthrow and arrest of Brotherhood-backed president Mohamed Mursi in August.
The emblem of the new channel will feature the four-finger “Rabaa” symbol adopted by the Brotherhood following the Egyptian security forces’ clearance of the Brotherhood-led sit-ins in Cairo on August 14, 2013 including the site at the city’s Rabaa Al-Adawiya Mosque. Hundreds of people were killed in the operation.
Sources claim that businessmen affiliated with the Islamist group have invested millions of dollars in the launch of the channel, which will offer the Brotherhood’s take on events in Egypt.
Other Brotherhood sources revealed that the party has also begun fundraising in order to launch a daily newspaper, with both print and online editions. The paper is planned to be headquartered in the UK and it is expected to launch in the coming months.
Nevertheless, it is believed that the newspaper will be not be allowed to print or distribute in Egypt given the “strict laws governing circulation of foreign publications in Egypt,” according to security sources in the country.
The organization is also likely to experience problems in recruiting enough experienced journalists to staff its new media outlets, according to observers.
The Misr 25 TV channel, launched by the Brotherhood over a year ago through satellite broadcaster NileSat, was unable to attract many viewers.
The same can be said about the Muslim Brotherhood’s newspaper Freedom and Justice, which has struggled to remain operating after its sources of funding were frozen by the Egyptian government, and has been reduced to only eight pages.
Commenting on the two initiatives, Kamal Helbawy, a former Brotherhood leader and vice-president of Egypt’s 50-member constitutional drafting committee, criticized the move, and told Asharq Al-Awsat that the Brotherhood should resolve their issues with the Egyptian people first.
Helbawy said he believed that the Brotherhood’s decision to launch a TV channel in Turkey “means that they are unable to operate in Egypt. In my opinion, what they first need to do is cure the entire problem, which cannot be resolved from abroad even with the support of Turkey.”
Helbawy added: “In my view the Brotherhood should solve their problem with the people, the army, the police, the judiciary and the media in Egypt.”
According to the post on Shiha’s Facebook page, the new channel will be broadcast on NileSat, on frequency 11075 vertical.
However, the broadcaster denied that it would carry the channel. NileSat’s chairman and CEO, Tharwat Mekky, issued a statement disassociating his company from the new venture, and said that it would be carried by a French operator.