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EGYPT: Al Jazeera officials vow to continue despite shutdown

Officials at Arab satellite broadcaster Al Jazeera have proclaimed their “utter disappointment” with the Egyptian government's shutdown of their Cairo bureau and vowed to continue their reporting.

In a Sunday statement, officials at the Qatar-based network described the Cairo shutdown as "a further attempt to hinder and obstruct" reporting on opposition protests and a reaction to how widely its coverage has been watched. Al Jazeera officials said they have more reporters on the ground across Egypt than any other network.

Al Jazeera’s Cairo bureau was closed Sunday, its Nilesat signal blocked by the Egyptian government in what network officials called "an attempt to stifle and obstruct freedom of reporting by the network and its journalists." Officials said they were exploring legal remedies that would allow them to reopen.

“Regardless of the multiple attempts by the Egyptian authorities to deter and impede our reporting, Al Jazeera continues its comprehensive coverage of the landmark events unfolding in Egypt,”  said Wadah Khanfar, the network's director general.

Earlier in the day, Khanfar told his staff not to be disheartened by the shutdown.

“This news should not be met with disappointment," he said, "but instead be used as fuel for further impetus, galvanizing our courageous network to continue to best tell the story of the changing face of Egyptian politics."

 “Under very trying circumstances we have delivered the highest standard of reporting from Egypt which has gripped our growing global audience" he continued. "Even in such a short space of time, we can be proud of our achievements, level of professionalism and sophistication in covering the significant developments in Egypt.”


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 -- Molly Hennessy-Fiske

Photo: Al Jazeera employees work at the pan-Arab television channel's bureau in Cairo on Jan. 30, 2011. Credit: Mohammed Abed / AFP/Getty Images

Comments () | Archives (3)

A too late move by the Egyptian Gov. The network have done enough damage and escalated the Egyptian crowds. Thursday, the network broadcast from the streets of Cairo, the question was; " Is it true that there are going to be a demonstration after tomorrow's prayer?" Demonstrators got the word from the network about the after Friday prayer demonstration; not from Face book or Twitter.

Ultimately what is at stake is the citizen’s of the mid east ability to garner some economic prosperity and mobility and quash the oppressive divide that has worked to date to engender US and entrenched mid east’s interests. But from the US’s point of view what is really at stake is their ability to retain US hegemony and the sale of a McDonald’s sponsored cheese burger at some future date. How the US reacts to EGYPT will be unconditionally tempered by this fact.

I've been watching for three days now and have been struck by two points. First, it is fascinating to watch the potential birth of a new democracy. Clearly, a grass-roots uprising is the only way a real democracy can arise; bombing and occupation by a foreign nation will not lead to the same end.

Secondly, the professionalism of Al Jazeera stands in direct contrast to the propaganda-churning machines of American corporate media. It is very refreshing to see actual journalism for a change.


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