With most of the world’s eyes transfixed on the ongoing revolution in Egypt, many are doing so thanks to the in depth coverage provided by the enormously popular al-Jazeera news network. With that no doubt in mind, Egypt’s Information Minister had the al-Jazeera bureau in Cairo closed today, and its broadcast license revoked.
It comes as hardly a surprise, as Egypt has already shut down the entire Internet, much of the nation’s cell phone service, text messaging, etc, in a desperate attempt to quell dissent through sheer information control. It isn’t working, of course, but that only seems to make them more determined to try.
But even more noteworthy is that increasingly across the Middle East, where its audiences are, the network is finding itself persona non grata for broadcasting factual, but embarrassing, information.
Tunisia moved against al-Jazeera just before the revolt there, and Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh accused the network of “inciting unrest” on behalf of both Israel and al-Qaeda by covering the growing protests there. Wherever there is a US-backed dictator in the region, its a safe bet al-Jazeera’s broadcasts are being condemned for making them look bad.
Even the would-be US-backed dictatorship, the Palestinian Authority, is not immune. President Mahmoud Abbas has been angrily condemning the network for the leak of 1,600 Palestinian Papers related to the peace deal. The authenticity of the papers have been attested to by a number of nations, but Abbas and his allies insist al-Jazeera forged the entire block, just to make him look bad.