Lawsuit against Al-Jazeera affiliate moved to Board of State Commissioners
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By HANAN FAYED

CAIRO: A lawsuit demanding the closure of the Qatari-owned Al-Jazeera Mubasher Misr, the Egyptian affiliate of Al-Jazeera news network, for being “biased” was referred to the Board of State Commissioners Saturday.

“The channel has broadcast lies following the ouster of Mohamed Morsi and breached the media code of ethics,” the lawyer who filed the lawsuit said in his petition, according to Youm7. The case was initially filed to the Court of Administrative Judiciary, but the latter referred it to the Board of State Commissioners.

An appeal court adjourned Saturday the appeal of Samir Sabry, a lawyer, against an April ruling by the Cairo Court for Urgent Matters that stipulated a lack of jurisdiction over designating Al-Jazeera Mubasher Misr as a supporter of terrorism.

The same court also adjourned Saturday a case filed by Nasser Ali Moussa, owner of Al-Baraheen Company which operates six Islamist TV channels, against the closure of his channels to July 14. The channels include the ultra-orthodox Islamist channels Al-Hafiz, Al-Nas and Al-Khalijiya.

“The Nilesat closed 10 ‘sectarian’ TV stations in 2013 after receiving international complaints against them,” Tharwat Mekki, head of the Egyptian satellite company Nilesat, told Saudi newspaper Al-Watan in December.

“Aljazeera Mubasher Misr relied on its political relations with the Brotherhood regime and operated without a license,” Mekki said, adding that Egypt is in dispute only with this affiliate.

The court ruled in September that the broadcast licenses of the channels be permanently revoked for “stirring sectarian strife, degrading human dignity, violating the privacy of others and broadcasting profanity,” according to Youm7.

Al-Hafiz channel became a platform for “insults, obscenity and sectarianism,” the court said in its ruling.

Coptic actor Hany Ramzy previously sued the channel for “degrading his beliefs” and Egyptian actress Ilham Shaheen also filed a lawsuit against it in August 2012 for “accusing her of adultery.”

Immediately following Morsi’s ouster in July 2013, authorities raided the office of Al-Jazeera Mubasher Misr and closed Muslim Brotherhood-run Misr 25 and Ahrar 25, Al-Nas and Al-Hafiz channels. Islamist channels Al-Yarmouk, Al-Quds, and the rest of Al-Baraheen’s channels were also closed.

Al-Jazeera Mubasher Misr, however, can still be viewed on Nilesat, although it now broadcasts form Qatar. The authorities of the Supreme Council of Armed Forces previously raided the office of the channel in 2011.

“We are concerned by reports that authorities are shutting down television coverage based on political perspective,” said Sherif Mansour, Middle East and North Africa Coordinator of the Committee to Protect Journalists, in a statement July 3, 2013.

“We urge the military not to deprive Egyptians of information sources at this important juncture,” Mansour added.

Al-Jazeera formally notified the Egyptian government that it would file a case for international arbitration in six months if Egypt failed to settle the dispute on “violating” the 1999 bilateral investment agreement between Egypt and Qatar, Al-Jazeera said in a statement on April 28.

The total financial loss inflicted on Al-Jazeera by the Egyptian authorities is estimated to be over U.S. $150 million, the statement said, adding that Al-Jazeera demands compensation for these losses and for the degrading treatment of Al-Jazeera and its staff in line with their legal rights.

Al-Jazeera journalists Peter Greste, Mohamed Fahmy and Baher Mohamed are detained pending trial, and Abdullah Elshamy, who has been on a hunger strike since January, is in pre-trial detention.

Other pro-Brotherhood channels broadcasting from outside of Egypt have emerged on the Nilesat, including Al-Shareia (legitimacy), and Rabaa.

On May 7, Cairo Court for Urgent Matters ruled lack of jurisdiction in a case filed by Sabry demanding the designation of Qatar as a state that supports terrorism. The court designated the Brotherhood a “terrorist organization” in February and banned April 6 Youth Movement on April 28.

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