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Popular television programme censored

(ANHRI/IFEX) – 21 January 2012 – The Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI) strongly denounces the Egyptian authorities for restricting media freedom and continuing its quest to censor and suppress the pro-democracy demonstrations, which are slated to resume on 25 January 2012, the first anniversary of the ongoing Egyptian revolution.

On 19 January, dozens of workers in the news sector at Egyptian Television organized a demonstration to protest the instructions issued by the Media Minister, General Ahmed Anis, to all those who work in Maspero to focus on demonstrations at Al-Abbasya Square on 25 January and ignore the ones in Tahrir Square.

"We are greatly concerned about the intentions of the media officials to repeat last year's scenario of deceiving the public and blacking out Tahrir protests, as well as the violations that might be committed against the protesters there. Especially considering that the officials who were responsible for misleading the public last year have not been held accountable yet, this might encourage Maspero's present management to commit similar breaches," ANHRI said.

In a separate incident, the management of Tahrir TV channel banned an episode of a popular program called "Talk shows" presented by the well-known media professional Doaa Sultan. The episode entitled "What to celebrate on the 25th of January?" discussed the mobilization efforts and the demands of the protesters for the coming anniversary, and calls to resume Egypt's revolution. It was scheduled to be broadcast on a recent night but viewers were surprised to find an old TV series in its place, and thought that there had been a technical failure. "The episode was banned on the instruction of the channel's owner because it endorses the demonstrations, and argues there is no reason for celebration while the revolution is not yet complete and the murderers of Egyptians protesters have not been indicted yet," said Doaa Sultan.

ANHRI added, "The management of Tahrir independent TV channel should have maintained neutrality so as not to succumb to pressure and self-censorship. Those who work in the media sector should be courageous and able to face the gagging policies and present all the facts without biases."

ANHRI asserts that it will not hesitate to call out the media if it serves to distribute lies on or regarding 25 January, and reminds readers that these practices were previously applied by the authorities last year and failed at their attempts to mislead the public and protect Mubarak's regime. They will surely fail again this year in attempting to silence the pro-democracy movement that is calling for giving power back to the people and mobilizing masses in Tahrir Square and all of Egypt's squares.

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