Behind Egypt’s crackdown on MB media

Diana Moukalled
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A well-known Egyptian anchorwoman enthusiastically presented scenes, which she described as exclusive, of the closure of one of the pro-Muslim Brotherhood (MB) channels in Egypt and the arrest of its employees.

While broadcasting the scenes, the anchorwoman, with a satisfied smile, attempted to justify shutting down the channels, saying the move was necessary due to them inciting the supporters of ousted president Mursi to wreak havoc.

She also excessively commended the Egyptian army and the defense minister in a prosaic manner. Truth is, this over-the-top praise of military and security institutions is not less harmful than incitement, if not worse because it sometimes stirs certain parties to an extent which makes it difficult to hold them accountable for their actions.

What do you think this anchorwoman will do if the virginity tests carried out on Egyptian female protesters under army rule almost two years ago is repeated?

Following the military’s decision to topple Mohammed Mursi, shut down the Muslim Brotherhood’s media outlets and arrest party officials, a huddle of journalists and media figures in Egypt suddenly joined the group of people satisfied at their “revenge” on the Muslim Brotherhood media.

Vice versa

The fact that MB and religious channels in Egypt have, by and large, encouraged violence and deviated away from freedom of expression is not new. But these practices should have been contained via legal action. Don't these accusations against the MB’s media - of stirring supporters and demonizing opponents – also apply to many media outlets which oppose the Brotherhood?

Indeed, a magnificent popular movement took place in Egypt and millions announced their rejection of the Brotherhood and its policies, but what sped up this quick collapse of the Brotherhood's image? What made millions of Egyptians who voted for this movement a year ago realize that those they voted for are not fit for governance?

Isn't the Brotherhood's media itself what pushed these millions of protesters to the streets?

Channels that support the Brotherhood may provoke, but this is no justification to impose an illegal ban on freedom of expression.

Diana Moukalled

During the past year, the Brotherhood's politicians and media drowned in several failures which opposition media figure Bassem Youssef wittily revealed. One is not exaggerating when it is said that Bassem Youssef is to thank for the so many people who stopped supporting the Muslim Brotherhood a year after they seized power. So why the army interference? And what's the use of making arbitrary decisions that take Arabs and Egyptians into future eras of coups and marital law?

Media supervision and censorship are more harmful to freedom of expression when they are selective. It's true that the content of Brotherhood channels and channels that support the Brotherhood provokes, but this is no justification to impose an illegal ban on freedom of expression and to carry out arbitrary detentions.

Condemning the shutting down of Brotherhood channels is a test we must go through. To request democracy and freedom means to accept those we disagree with. The justification of incitement, which is true, can be used by the opposition since parallel incitements is practiced by the Brotherhood's rivals via some sort of wit.

Yesterday, Brotherhood supporters took to the streets of Cairo’s Rabia al-Adawiya Square. Shutting down their channels and arresting their leaders is what most probably increased the number of protesters. Quickly reopening the channels is a corrective step that the second revolution in Egypt needs.

This article was first published in Asharq al-Awsat on July 8, 2013.

Diana Moukalled is the Web Editor at the Lebanon-based Future Television and was the Production & Programming Manager with at the channel. Previously, she worked there as Editor in Chief, Producer and Presenter of “Bilayan al Mujaradah,” a documentary that covers hot zones in the Arab world and elsewhere, news and war correspondent and local news correspondent. She currently writes a regular column in Asharq al-Awsat. She also wrote for Al-Hayat Newspaper and Al-Wasat Magazine, besides producing news bulletins and documentaries for Reuters TV. She can be found on Twitter: @dianamoukalled.

Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not reflect Al Arabiya English's point-of-view.
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