Egypt calls for boycott of BBC after article deemed anti-Sisi

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Egyptian President Al-Sissi, May 18, 2016. – Amr Nabil / AP / SIPA

The Egyptian authorities on Sunday called for boycotting the BBC. In question, an article deemed “politicized and misleading” on an anti-Sissi “campaign” launched by opponents on social networks.

The Arabic site of the BBC has indeed published Friday an article about the hashtag “Reassure you you're not alone”, relayed by some opponents calling to demonstrate against Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sissi.

Cairo is waiting for an apology

“This politicized and misleading article contains several professional shortcomings,” said Sunday the General Information Organization (SIS), which regulates the activity of foreign media in the country. In a statement, the SIS calls “all Egyptian leaders and intellectuals to boycott the BBC (…) until it officially apologizes” for “inventing events that never happened”.

“We are now aware of this complaint and we will engage constructively,” said Safaa Faisal, director of the BBC office in Cairo. “We have good working relations with the Egyptian authorities and we will continue to engage constructively on this issue,” added a spokesman for the BBC in London.

A campaign of Muslim Brotherhood supporters in Cairo

SIS accuses the BBC of relaying false information, conveyed, according to him, by supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood. Considered “terrorist” in Egypt, the brotherhood is the bane of the regime of Abdel Fattah al-Sissi, since the latter has flown
the dismissal by the army of Islamist President Mohamed Morsi in 2013.

On Sunday, the Supreme Council for Media Regulation, another state body overseeing the press, announced that it would investigate “violations” of the BBC through its complaints committee. Star presenter Ahmed Moussa, known for his virulent stance against opponents of the president, called for the closure of the channel's office in Egypt.

The BBC has already been in the crosshairs of the Egyptian authorities last year after the publication of a report deemed to be false on the repression in Egypt, particularly concerning enforced disappearances. Egypt ranks 161st out of 179 in Reporters Without Borders (RSF) latest press freedom ranking.

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