01/05/2017, 15.43
EGYPT
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Cairo’s new media crackdown cancels Ibrahim Eissa’s popular TV show

by Loula Lahham

The journalist explains on Facebook that whilst his “burdens and responsibilities" have “opened many minds", they have also led to "a lot of pressure." The speaker of parliament had accused him of "criminal disinformation." A long-time critic of the establishment, he has received awards and honours for his fight for freedom of information.

Cairo (AsiaNews) – As part of a growing crackdown against Egyptian media, a popular TV show hosted by journalist Ibrahim Eissa was cancelled at the start of the new year.

In his official Facebook page, Eissa writes: "The success of my programme has meant that I have had to take on burdens and responsibilities and faced a lot of pressures. Nevertheless, my show has opened many minds, and reduce the room for tolerance of many [others]. For my viewers of all tendencies, I think this is the right time to stop my show.”

In fact, for Eissa, in the current political and institutional situation, the time has come to end his broadcast until at a more appropriate time.

It should be noted that in recent weeks, the famous presenter had come under serious pressure to stop his harsh criticism of Egyptian politics. He had gone so far that the speaker of the Egyptian parliament accused him "criminal disinformation".

In fact, Ibrahim Eissa had developed a reputation as a rebel journalist under the regime of former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and then under that of the Muslim Brotherhood.

He had backed President Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi in the first year in power before becoming increasingly critical, especially after Egypt decided to transfer Tiran and Sanafir Islands in the Red Sea to Saudi Arabia.

His fierce criticism fell on both Egyptian as well as Saudi authorities, the latter for their support for Salafists.

The owner of the television station broadcasting Eissa's show, Tarek Nour, a famous Egyptian businessman, also came under increasing pressures.

A major furniture and interior design exhibition organised by Mr Nour for more than 35 years, was cancelled two days before opening for "security reasons", causing Losses of several million Egyptian pounds to both organiser and participants.

Ibrahim Eissa will be neither the first nor the last journalist pressured into this kind of decision since the end of the Muslim Brotherhood regime (2012-2013).

He joins a long list that includes the names of Reem Maged, Yusri Fouda, Liliane Daoud, Bassem Youssef, Mahmoud Saad, Dina Abdel-Rahman, Hussein Abdel-Ghani, Amr Al-Leissi, Abdel-Halim Qandil and Tewfik Okacha.

Born in 1965, Mr Eissa has been involved in journalism since he was 11. At 17, he became editorial secretary at the famous Rose Al-Youssef weekly.

Founder of several liberal papers, he has always expressed opinions against Islamist groups, such as the Muslim Brotherhood and the Al-jamāʻah al-islāmīyah.

In April 2011, Eissa was named the Journalist of the Year for 2010 by the UK-based Society of Editors in recognition of his total commitment to freedom of expression and his courage in the face of constant threats.

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