Egypt blocks more newspaper website, widening media censorship

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Last week Egypt initiated in a mission to curb what authorities called the support for terrorism and fake news. This was followed by the censorship of Egypt’s most prominent financial newspaper Al-Borsa, the paper’s owner said on Sunday. The censorship of Al-Borsa, a widely read financial newspaper that generally steers clear of politics and reflects the views of a largely pro-state business community, suggests a more expansive attempt to control private media coverage.

Egypt has blocked access to a number of news websites including Al-Jazeera and Huffington Post Arabic on Wednesday after similar actions by its Gulf allies Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. In a statement by parent company Business News  they have also blocked The website of Al-Boursa’s sister publication and  the English-language Daily News Egypt.

“Al-Boursa and Daily News Egypt newspapers express their strong condemnation for the ongoing government campaign to restrict them,” it said.

In June 2015 “Journalists were facing “unprecedented threats” in Egypt with a record number behind bars, mostly for links with ousted president Mohamed Morsi’s banned Muslim Brotherhood. media watchdog said. The Committee to Protect Journalists said at least 18 journalists, many of whom worked for online media, were locked up in Egypt, the most since it began keeping records in 1990″ said media watchdog.  It added that “The threat of imprisonment in Egypt is part of an atmosphere in which authorities pressure media outlets to censor critical voices and issue gag orders on sensitive topics,”

Last month Egypt declared a three-month state of emergency after two suicide bombings at Coptic churches that killed more than 45 people. In an address ushering in a new era of martial law just after the attacks, President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi warned the press to be careful in its reporting.

Security sources told Reuters last week that 21 websites had been blocked for allegedly being affiliated with the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood or being funded by Qatar. Business News said the decision to block its sites came as a surprise because they were not among the 21 blocked last week. The company had its assets frozen last December for alleged ties with the Muslim Brotherhood, a charge it denies. “We point out that all information on our company, its shareholders, financial statements and contracts are available to all relevant government entities,” the company said in a statement on Sunday.

Websites such as Mada Masr, an Egyptian news website that describes itself as progressive and has no Islamist or Qatari affiliations, were also blocked last week.

 

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Matshepo is a Junior Journalist at OStudio Post.

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