The "Media Advisor" to Egypt's interim government has defended the decision to ban the Qatar-based Al Jazeera channel in his country.
Sherif Shawki told the Wall Street Journal that Al Jazeera Egypt had "violated the law" by operating without the necessary permits. Despite not having the correct permits, the channel had been broadcasting in Egypt since the 2011 popular uprising which ousted President Hosni Mubarak.
Under Mubarak's regime Al Jazeera had been forbidden from broadcasting in Egypt. But the Qatari channel found a friend in the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood, which rose to power in the aftermath of Mubarak's overthrow. Qatar is the leading sponsor of the Muslim Brotherhood movement worldwide, and a key supporter of the administration of the Brotherhood's successful presidential candidate Mohammed Morsi.
Following Morsi's own ouster, and the subsequent violent convulsions which followed, the military-backed administrative government has taken a no-tolerance policy towards the Brotherhood and any organisations deemed sympathetic to it. It therefore came as little surprise when an Egyptian court earlier this month ordered the closure of the channel's Egyptian operation, along with three Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated stations.
Not long after the ruling was issued, four Al Jazeera correspondents were briefly detained by authorities, before being promptly released without charge.
Shawki acknowledged, however, that Al Jazeera has been able to circumvent the ban by broadcasting from a different satellite. He insisted, however, that the move was still significant.
“We know that they are still broadcasting through another satellite, but this is a symbolic move to show that Egypt doesn’t approve of their policies,” WSJ quoted him as saying.
He added that the government is currently reviewing the permits and credentials of all foreign press.