News

June 26, 2019

After being blocked for weeks, Egyptian news site says it will close

The Egyptian news website Tahrir News has announced that it will close because online access to the site has been blocked within Egypt since 9 May. Reporters Without Borders (RSF) voices support for the site’s staff and deplores the fact that constant government censorship is forcing Egyptian news media to shut down.

In a communiqué, Tahrir News said it would close in two months’ time because of the economic difficulties resulting from the permanent censorship.

 

Tahrir News editor Mohamed Fawzy told RSF he had no idea which government department was behind the blocking or why it was happening. The website’s staff have requested an explanation from many different government departments without receiving any response.

 

They are all the more baffled because the Supreme Council for Media, the Journalists Syndicate and even the communication ministry all say that Tahrir News has not violated any law.

 

“Blocking a news website for weeks or even months is unacceptable and amounts to subjecting it to a slow death,” RSF said. “The closure of Tahrir News is another hard blow for the freedom of press in Egypt.”

 

Following this announcement, the Arab Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI) pointed out measures that further intensify media desertification in Egypt. Addressing the prime minister in the House of Representatives, parliamentarian Haitham Elhariri said: “The strength and vitality of any political system is linked to the existence of a strong opposition. The marginalization and weakening of the opposition testify to the political system’s weakness.”

 

At least 535 websites have been blocked in Egypt since May 2017, according to the Association for Freedom of Thought and Expression (AFTE), an Egyptian NGO, and the number has continued to grow since then. In most cases, sites are blocked without reference to a judge under provisions for combatting terrorism, because of their presumed support for the Muslim Brotherhood or Qatar.


Egypt is ranked 163rd out of 180 countries in RSF’s 2019 World Press Freedom Index.