The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) has condemned the Egyptian authorities for blocking access to at least 21 news websites including Al-Jazeera after accusing them of “spreading lies” and “supporting terrorism.”
The state-run news agency Mena announced last month that 21 websites including Al-Jazeera, Huffington Post’s Arabic-language site HuffPost Arabi and the independent website Mada Masr had been blocked. Reports claim that legal action against the outlets would be taken after they were accused of being affiliated with the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood or being funded by Qatar. This followed moves by Saudi Arabia and UAE authorities to block the websites of Aljazeera and Qatari newspapers.
According to The Guardian staff at Mada Masr now fear a raid on the publication’s office, following a raid on 2 May on the offices of Al-Borsa, a financial news site as well as the English-language news website Daily News Egypt. The Egyptian police seized computer equipment and questioned staff about their political coverage, according to reports.
Press freedom campaigners fear the latest raids and bans are part of a broader attempt by the government to tighten its grip on privately owned media.
Egypt last month declared a three-month state of emergency after two suicide bombings at Coptic churches killed more than 45. In speech just after the attacks, President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi warned the press to be careful in its reporting.
“The growing media blackout in Egypt is an unforgivable attempt to destroy the fundamental pillars of any democratic society,” said IFJ General Secretary, Anthony Bellanger. “We urge the authorities not to use the state of emergency to muzzle media and to let the journalists work freely and independently to do their job of investigating and reporting the truth.”