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Television comedy programmes banned in Egypt and Kuwait

(ANHRI/IFEX) - The Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI) condemned the Kuwaiti Ministry of Information decision to ban the TV programme "Soatak Wasal" (Your Voice is Heard), a comic show that criticises Kuwaiti officials and MPs, after only 3 episodes were aired. Similarly, the Egyptian minister of information, Anas Al Fiqy, decided to ban the programme "Hokuma Show" (Cabinet Show), a comic show that criticises Egyptian government officials including Ahmed Nazeef, the Egyptian prime minister. The episode that referred to Nazeef led to the ban on the programme.

The Kuwaiti Ministry of Information decided to ban "Soatak Wasal", broadcast on the "Scope" channel, after threatening to pursue any show that is offensive to Kuwaiti state officials, without specifying what "offensive" means in this context. On 25 August 2009, the undersecretary of the Ministry of Information, Sheikh Faisal AlMalek, carried out the threat and banned the show, claiming it violates the Kuwaiti law on audio/visual transmission.

The Egyptian minister of information decided to ban "Hokuma Show" out of respect for the prime minister, in a blatant violation of freedom of expression and an unjust abuse of power.

According to ANHRI, "appending the ministers and state officials to the restricted list and stretching the red line to include them renders freedom of expression void of any value . . . Banning these programmes, and others to come, clearly discloses the stance of these ministries, which have become an oppression tool rather than being an endorser and a promoter of freedom of the media."

ANHRI requests that both governments reconsider their decisions and allow both programmes back on the air in support of freedom of expression, especially given that the banned material is currently broadcast on the Internet.

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