Al Jazeera told to shut down in Egypt, signal cut
Cairo, January 30, 2011
Qatar-based satellite channel Al Jazeera was ordered by Egypt's information ministry on Sunday to shut down its operations in the country.
Later in the day its signal to some parts of the Middle East was cut, the channel said.
Tens of thousands of people have taken to the streets in Egypt demanding an end to President Hosni Mubarak's 30-year rule, in protests that have sent shockwaves through the Arab world.
The news channel, which says it can reach 220 million households in more than 100 countries, said in a message on its broadcast that Egypt's satellite Nilesat had cut off its broadcasting signal.
That effectively took Al Jazeera off the air in some parts of the Arab world, but other signals were still available.
'Dear viewers, Al Jazeera's signal has been cut off on Nilesat,' it broadcast via a signal visible in Kuwait, and gave satellite frequencies on which the channel was still available.
Earlier, Egyptian authorities ordered it to stop operations in Egypt, though correspondents were still reporting news by telephone.
'The Information Minister ordered ... suspension of operations of Al Jazeera, cancelling of its licences and withdrawing accreditation to all its staff as of today,' a statement on Egypt's official Mena news agency said.
Launched in in Doha, Qatar, in 1996, Al Jazeera has more than 400 reporters in over 60 countries, according to its website.
The Al Jazeera Network, in a statement, strongly condemned the closure of its bureau in Cairo by the Egyptian government.
It said Al Jazeera has received widespread global acclaim for their coverage on the ground across the length and breadth of Egypt.
An Al Jazeera spokesman said that they would continue their strong coverage regardless. “Al Jazeera sees this as an act designed to stifle and repress the freedom of reporting by the network and its journalists. In this time of deep turmoil and unrest in Egyptian society it is imperative that voices from all sides be heard; the closing of our bureau by the Egyptian government is aimed at censoring and silencing the voices of the Egyptian people.
“Al Jazeera assures its audiences in Egypt and across the world that it will continue its in-depth and comprehensive reporting on the events unfolding in Egypt. Al Jazeera journalists have brought unparalleled reporting from the ground from across Egypt in the face of great danger and extraordinary circumstances. Al Jazeera Network is appalled at this latest attack by the Egyptian regime to strike at its freedom to report independently on the unprecedented events in Egypt,” it said. - Reuters & TradeArabia News Service