[JURIST] Egyptian authorities on Wednesday shut down four Islamist-run television stations that were viewed as sympathetic to ousted President Mohamed Morsi [official BBC profile; JURIST news archive]. This crackdown occurred only a day after the Egyptian military removed Morsi from office [JURIST report] and installed an interim government headed by High Constitutional Court judge Adly Mansour [BBC profile]. The military also raided the offices [Reuters report] of Al Jazeera’s Egyptian news channel and detained at least five of its staff members, four of whom were later released. Another station run by the Muslim Brotherhood was removed from the air [AP report] as it was showing pro-Morsi protesters chanting “down with military rule” following the announcement that Morsi had been removed from power. The crackdown has caused concern among various groups, including Amnesty International (AI) [advocacy website], whose General Secretary Salil Shetty stated [AI news report]:
There has already been a blow to freedom of expression, with several TV channels which supported the President silenced and staff reportedly arrested immediately after his overthrow. Amid fears of possible reprisals and revenge attacks against supporters of President Morsi, along with the worrying trend of mob violence and sexual assaults on women this is a time for extreme caution.
Various other human rights organizations also expressed concern about the extensive record of human rights violations that Egypt’s armed forces have committed in the past, and urged them to comply with international human rights laws in this time of great tension.
Egypt has faced political unrest since the Egyptian Revolution [JURIST backgrounder] began over two years ago. On Tuesday, the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) [official website] urged Morsi to listen to the demands of the Egyptian public [JURIST report]. In February, thirteen Egyptian human rights organizations alleged [JURIST report] that Egypt’s Ministry of Interior was responsible for police brutality and deaths of protestors. Earlier that month, OHCHR criticized [JURIST report] Egypt’s draft law on demonstrations for failure to adequately protect freedom of assembly. The draft law requires that organizers inform authorities about protest plans in advance and allows the interior ministry the right to reject demonstrations. The OHCHR also voiced concern [JURIST report] in January over the growing violence and rising death toll in Egypt stemming from ongoing protests occurring throughout the country.