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Egypt: Anti-Brotherhood TV channel suspended | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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A man smokes a water pipe as he watches Jon Stewart on a TV screen at a coffee shop, in Cairo, Egypt, Saturday, June 22, 2013. (AP Photo/Hassan Ammar)

Arab Television microphones sit on a stand at the media syndicate in Cairo late on 30 November 2010.

Arab Television microphones sit on a stand at the
media syndicate in Cairo late on 30 November 2010.

Cairo, Asharq Al-Awsat—Egyptian authorities suspended the broadcasting licence of Al-Fareen television channel on Saturday, saying that it violated media regulations, undermined the “revolutions” of January 25, 2011, and June 30, 2013, and is responsible for breaches of the peace.

Sources in the publishing district of Sixth of October City in West Cairo, which houses the channel, also claim that the Egyptian authorities ordered the arrest of the channel’s owner, Tawfiq Akasha, accusing him of breaching the peace.

The channel had been broadcasting anti-Muslim Brotherhood programming for months, but has also criticized the leaders of the new goverment.

In a program aired Saturday, Akasha strongly criticized minister of defense—and deputy prime minister—Genenral Abdel Fattah El-Sisi and information minister Dr. Doria Sharaf Al-Din.

This is the second time that television channels have been targeted since the military-backed protests that ousted former Brotherhood-affiliated president Mohamed Mursi on June 30. Several pro-Islamist channels have also been closed due to their alleged association with the Mursi government.

Al-Fareen was also closed during Mursi’s tenure, on June 27 this year, due to its criticism of the Muslim Brotherhood, the army and the security forces.

A source from Al-Fareen channel claimed that the reason behind the closure is a new program called My Responsibility, presented by Murtada Mansoor, an Egyptian Lawyer famous for his controversial opinions. Only one episode of that show was aired, but it included criticism of public figures for their ineffective work and “betrayal” of Egypt.

The source indicated that the decision to close the channel will have a detrimental impact on more than 500 employees and a number of the programs they produce.

It is widely believed that Al-Fareen was supported and funded by those opposed to the Brotherhood in Egypt, as well as by businessmen linked with the former government of Hosni Mubarak.

Akasha is also being investigated for allegedly inciting the assassination of President Mursi during some episodes of his program. The investigation follows a previous suspension of a program he presents on the channel, Masr Alyoum (Egypt Today), in January 2012, for failing to abide by media regulations.

He responded to the Ministry of Investment’s decision to suspend Al-Fareen on Twitter yesterday, saying “There is no rationale behind the channel’s closure.”

The channel’s owner added that in his opinion, the channel has been closed due to his attack on the information minister, Dr. Doria Sharaf Al-Din, for refusing to allow lawyer Mansoor Ali to appear as a guest on official state television.

The broadcasting company that owns the television channel is affiliated with the Egyptian Investment Authority, a state entity responsible for the distribution of licences for both Egyptian and international media investment projects.

An official source within the authority said that two warnings were issued to the channel over the previous two months, which highlighted the importance of adhering to media standards and avoiding insults and controversial terms which are not allowed to be broadcast in Egypt.

The source told Asharq Al-Awsat that this is a temporary decision to suspend the channel for a period of between six and eight weeks, and that the channel’s broadcasting license has not been terminated.

Akasha gained prominence as a television host during the 2011 revolution via his program, Masr Al-Jadeeda (New Egypt), which he used as a platform to share political views in a simple, colloquial dialect.