Troubling siege of Egyptian private media complex

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

His Excellency Wael Ahmed Kamal Aboul-Magd, Ambassador to Canada
Embassy of the Arab Republic of Egypt
454 Laurier Avenue
Ottawa, ON K1N6R3

Dear Ambassador,

I am writing on behalf of Canadian Journalists for Free Expression (CJFE), a non-profit, non-governmental organization that works to promote and protect press freedom and freedom of expression around the world.

CJFE is troubled by the recent violent incident that took place in front of the Egyptian Media Production City, an information and media complex containing several independent media outlets located near Cairo, following anti-press comments by Egypt's President Mohamed Morsi.

President Morsi reportedly responded to March 21 protests at Muslim Brotherhood headquarters in Mokattam, Cairo by accusing private media of biased coverage and inciting the violence on March 21.

It appears that President Morsi's comments and those of the Muslim Brotherhood, then led to a siege on the media by supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood who surrounded Media Production City. Five satellite channels based in the city - Al-Hayat, ONTV, Al-Nahar, Al-Qahira wal Nas, and CBC - were besieged by angry demonstrators on March 24.

Protestors closed gates, and blocked the entrances. Journalists were assaulted and prevented from filming. Among them were Reham al-Sahli, the host of the talk show "90 Minutes" and Diaa Rashwan, the head of the Egyptian Journalists Syndicate. Journalists have claimed that the government is prosecuting those who criticize it but are turning a blind eye to the crimes committed against media workers.

CJFE is deeply concerned about the safety and freedom of journalists in Cairo and elsewhere in the country. We urge the Egyptian government to uphold the right to freedom of expression and access to information of all Egyptians.

We thank you for your attention and I look forward to your reply.

Yours sincerely,
Arnold Amber, CJFE President

Cc: His Excellency David Drake, Canadian Ambassador to Egypt; The Honourable John Baird, Canadian Minister of Foreign Affairs