Tuesday, September 13, 2011
Security officers raided the Cairo offices of an Al-Jazeera channel in Egypt and detained several members of its staff. The channel, Al-Jazeera Mubasher, broadcasts live international events and was accused of not having a proper licence; however Islam Lotfy, a lawyer for the channel, claimed that the channel had repeatedly applied for a licence since March, but had not had a reply. Launched in 1996, Qatar-based Al-Jazeera has risen to become the highest-profile news broadcaster in the Middle East with both English and Arabic speaking channels. The broadcaster has often had difficulties with governments that seek to maintain their traditionally tight control of the media. The Cairo raid comes after a warning last week from Osama Heikal, Egypt’s Minister of Media, that the government would take legal action against stations that “endanger the stability and security” of the nation; some analysts speculate that the raid could signal a broader effort to curtail the new freedoms of expression acquired following the removal of President Mubarak earlier this year. Egyptian officials have reported that Al-Jazeera’s main Arabic channel, and Al-Jazeera International (its English-speaking counterpart), are still operating freely.