Sunday, January 30, 2011

BREAKING. Egypt can't handle a free press; bans Al Jazeera and wants the news channel out of the country immediately.

Unable to cope with a free press reporting about growing unrest, widespread and continuing protests, looting and a government out of touch and unable to control a resentful populace, the Egyptian government has now banned the Arabic news channel Al Jazeera (DStv 408 / TopTV 401) from the North African country and ordered Al Jazeera's news bureau be shut down.

Al Jazeera is defying the ban and is still broadcasting live from Egypt with South Africa's Jane Dutton who works for Al Jazeera. Al Jazeera is blatantly showing live images from Cairo and Alexandria, with live reports from the ground.

On Friday Egypt already threw Al Jazeera of its satellite platform Nilesat, tried to create signal interference with Al Jazeera's broadcast and intimidated the news channel's people who has 7 news teams across the country. Similar to the Tunisian uprising weeks ago, Al Jazeera is doing superb television news reporting with excellent news coverage of the unfolding drama and spectacle of ordinary Egyptians from all walks of life taking to the streets to demand that president Hosni Bubarak, in office since 1981, step down as president.

Now Egypt's outgoing information minister has ordered the closure of Al Jazeera, ordering ''the closure of all activities by Al Jazeera in the Arab republic of Egypt, and the annulment of its licences, as well as withdrawing the press cards to all its employees as of Sunday.''

Al Jazeera says it will continue its incisive and comprehensive coverage when I asked about the ban. ''Al Jazeera sees this as an act designed to stifle and repress the freedom of reporting by the network and its journalists. In this time of deep turmoil and unrest in Egyptian society it is imperative that voices from all sides be heard; the closing of our bureau by the Egyptian government is aimed at censoring and silencing the voices of the Egyptian people,'' says Al Jazeera in a press statement.

''Al Jazeera assures its audiences in Egypt and across the world that it will continue its in-depth and comprehensive reporting on the events unfolding in Egypt. Al Jazeera journalists have brought unparalleled reporting from the ground from across Egypt in the face of great danger and extraordinary circumstances. Al Jazeera Network is appalled at this latest attack by the Egyptian regime to strike at its freedom to report independently on the unprecedented events in Egypt."

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ALSO READ: Al Jazeera demands an end to interference after Egypt cuts its signal from Nilesat.