State news agency MENA has announced that Egypt has banned 21 websites, including news organisation Al Jazeera. Per the MENA report, and subsequent reporting by Reuters, the websites were all charged with “supporting terrorism.”
Speaking to a source within the National Telecom Regulatory Authority, Reuters implied a confirmation of this move by the government, with the source adding “So what if it is true? It should not be a problem.”
Otherwise, there was no official statement released by government officials. But, it’s also worth noting that the source stated legal action would apparently be taken against the websites.
Per Reuters sources, the websites in question were seen to have been involved with the Muslim Brotherhood as well as being supported by Qatar. The latter of those accusations is rooted in the Egyptian government’s insistence that Qatar supports the Muslim Brotherhood.
Though local media had only mentioned five of the websites, Huffington Posts’s Arabic website and Mada Masr were both found by Reuters to be inaccessible. Reuters has denied any Qatari or Islamist affiliations.
The move stands as something of an extension of the current Egyptian administration’s approach to the media. Specifically, there has been an alarming rise in attacks against members of local media, focusing in on journalists who represented a critical voice. In fact, in just the last few years of president al-Sisi’s administration, journalists have had a difficult time simply requesting documents from the government.
In 2012, Mohamed Morsi’s government had taken drastic steps to suppress news agencies that represented an anti-government stance of any sort. That administration had gone as far as putting individual journalists on trial, continuing down a troubling path.
Though it’s a sudden move on the part of the Egyptian government, it isn’t entirely out of the ordinary for Egyptian authorities. Press suppression has been the order of the day for the better part of a decade for the country that has even witnessed the arrest of political figures representing opposing parties.