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EGYPT: Mubarak-controlled state TV expands coverage of protests

February 4, 2011 | 10:06 am

Egypt-protests-getty Egyptian state TV has reportedly aired a statement from a protest organizer in what could be a sign that the country's government-controlled media might be broadening theircoverage of the ongoing demonstrations against President Hosni Mubarak.

Critics accuse the government-controlled media of being one-sided and reporting biased news about the protests that have rocked Egypt for the last 11 days.

Pan-Arab news channel Al Jazeera English reported on Friday that government TV had aired a communique from a protest organizer as huge crowds gathered in Cairo's Tahrir Square for a "Friday of Departure" rally, calling on Mubarak to step down from power. It didn't elaborate further on the contents of the statement.

Images from state-run TV also appeared to show scenes from the outskirts of Friday's anti-Mubarak protest, though less vibrant that those of Al Jazeera, which aired footage from the heart of Tahrir Square, where the masses had gathered.

However, it still says the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood is behind the demonstration, noted the English-language Al Jazeera International.

The country's largest independent newspaper, Al Masry Al Youm, reported on Friday night that security forces have stormed the headquarters of the Muslim Brotherhood website, arresting 12 reporters.

The move by state television comes after government-controlled media channels such as Nile TV reported this week that the demonstrations and widespread unrest are the work of foreign instigators, apparently taking a page from the Iranian regime's response to massive protests against President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in 2009.

On Thursday, Egypt's new vice president Omar Suleiman took to government TV to blame the turmoil in the country on "foreign agendas."

Egyptian government TV has come under fire by its own employees in the past days for its coverage of the demonstrations. Earlier this week, high-profile Egyptian journalist Shahira Amin publicly resigned from her job at Egypt's English-language official television station, Nile TV, saying she had problems with how the station was reporting on the upheavals.

"This is happening in my own backyard and I felt that my hands were tied because we were clearly instructed not to go and the only story we were covering were the pro-Mubarak rallies that were taking place, totally ignoring what was happening in Tahrir," she was quoted as saying in media reports.

-- Alexandra Sandels in Beirut

Photo: Egyptian demonstrators hold up placards mocking President Hosni Mubarak during a rally in central Cairo to demand the ouster of President Hosni Mubarak. Credit: Mohammed Abed/Agence France Presse/Getty Images