The Egyptian regime is attempting to suppress Al Jazeera’s reporting from the country. It has already closed down the Al Jazeera Arabic service in Egypt. Now it is attacking the English language service as well. On 31 January it arrested six Al Jazeera journalists. It was forced to release them after international protests but it detained all their equipment – TV cameras, recording equipment, laptops.
The US administration, supposed supporters of ‘free speech’, has made no serious opposition to the continual attempt to stop Al Jazeera reporting. Even the US administration was forced to oppose arrest of the journalists – being too open about suppressing journalists doesn’t work. But it did not demand their equipment be released – which would stop them reporting. The US administration has made no serious protests against the closing down of Al Jazeera’s Arabic service in Egypt.
International protests are beginning against this harassment of Al Jazeera. The Middle East coordinator for the Committee to Protect Journalists told Al Jazeera that the Egyptian government has not been able to control the media effectively during recent protests. ‘Egypt has a long and atrocious record of suppressing the media… that Egyptian state TV is showing cooking shows today is an indication of the level of denial… but frankly no one is watching Egyptian state TV… the government seems intent on shooting the messenger and blaming the victim… I urge the Egyptian authorities to learn something from Tunisia… the media blackout is not working.’
It is vital that protests in all countries are mounted against this harassment of Al Jazeera. Its only ‘crime’ is to be reporting what is actually happening in Egypt. International protests can help to allow Al Jazeera to report freely.
Follow Al Jazeera’s live blog at http://blogs.aljazeera.net/middle-east/2011/01/30/live-blog-311-egypt-protests
Follow Al Jazeera’s correspondent in Egypt Dan Nolan on Twitter @nolanjazeera