Breaking: Al Jazeera in Cairo Reportedly Being Shut Down and Losing Press Credentials

Click image for Al Jazeera's "Live blog 30/1 - Egypt protests" Image caption: A protester in Beirut holds a poster showing the potential domino effect in the Arab world (Reuters)

Al Jazeera English correspondent Dan Nolan:

#Egypt state TV reporting Aljazeera office in #Cairo is to be shut down today. Licenses revoked #Jan25

Don’t worry we’ll still report what’s happening in #Egypt no matter what new restrictions they put on us. #Jan25

(in case you are confused, the tweets are breaking news from today, not five days ago–people on twitter are using the #Jan25 tag to keep things consistent for people to follow the tweets on the protests from day to day.)

Al Jazeer English producer Evan Hill:

And, first order of business, Al Jazeera’s operations are being shut down in Egypt. Announcement just went out. #jan25

State TV announces Al Jazeera’s broadcasting license and press cards are being revoked. Our bureau is packing up. #jan25

Several aspects of the apparent government shutdown of AJ remain unclear, we’re all waiting now. No one has come to turn us off. #jan25

Updates from Hill:

Al Jazeera English is now off the air in Egypt. TV is picking up no signal. #jan25

Back and forth – our TV is now picking up Al Jazeera English in Cairo again. I’ll refrain from updating this again until it’s clear. #jan25

Update on Al Jazeera being shut down

via Huffington Post:

Al Jazeera released a statement on Sunday that it “strongly denounces and condemns the closure of its bureau in Cairo by the Egyptian government.” The network says it received notification from authorities on Sunday morning that information minister [Anas al-Fikki] had ordered the suspension of Al Jazeera. It also vowed to “continue its strong coverage regardless.”

Update on news about US response to Egyptian protests

Just saw this on from the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace — “A Need For Free and Fair Elections in Egypt: A Statement by the Working Group on Egypt“:

Amidst the turmoil in Egypt, it is important for the United States to remain focused on the interests of the Egyptian people as well as the legitimacy and stability of the Egyptian government.

Only free and fair elections provide the prospect for a peaceful transfer of power to a government recognized as legitimate by the Egyptian people. We urge the Obama administration to pursue these fundamental objectives in the coming days and press the Egyptian government to:

  • call for free and fair elections for president and for parliament to be held as soon as possible;
  • amend the Egyptian Constitution to allow opposition candidates to register to run for the presidency;
  • immediately lift the state of emergency, release political prisoners, and allow for freedom of media and assembly;
  • allow domestic election monitors to operate throughout the country, without fear of arrest or violence;
  • immediately invite international monitors to enter the country and monitor the process leading to elections, reporting on the government’s compliance with these measures to the international community; and
  • publicly declare that Hosni Mubarak will agree not to run for re-election.

We further recommend that the Obama administration suspend all economic and military assistance to Egypt until the government accepts and implements these measures.

Laura Rozen at Politico — “Ex-officials urge Obama to suspend aid to Egypt“:

A bipartisan group of former U.S. officials and foreign policy scholars is urging the Obama administration to suspend all economic and military aid to Egypt until the government agrees to carry out early elections and to suspend Egypt’s draconian state of emergency, which has been in place for decades.

“We are paying the price for the fact that the administration has been at least of two minds on this stuff, and we should have seen it coming,” said Robert Kagan, co-chair of the bipartisan Egypt working group, regarding what many analysts now say is the inevitable end of Hosni Mubarak’s thirty year reign as Egypt’s president.

Though the Obama administration has tried to look like it’s not picking sides in urging restraint from violence amid five days of Egyptian unrest calling for Mubarak to step down, “the U.S. can’t be seen as neutral when it’s giving a billion and a half dollars” to prop up the Mubarak regime, Kagan said.

Zaid Jilani at Think Progress:

The position of the Obama administration has been unclear. While administration officials have condemned abuses of civil liberties, they’ve also fallen short of endorsing Mubarak’s ouster or ending support for the regime, with Vice President Joe Biden even going as far as to say that Mubarak isn’t a dictator.

The United States gives nearly $2 billion in aid to the Egyptian regime every year, and offers diplomatic and military cooperation that helps bolster Mubarak. As protesters continue to be beaten, tortured, and killed by internal security forces, it’s important to know that these abuses are being subsidized by U.S. taxpayer dollars. Threatening to reduce or eliminate this monetary assistance to the Egyptian regime would be a powerful tool that the United States could use to help advance democracy and promote freedom in the country.

Update from Brian Whitaker (Guardian ME editor from 2000-2007) at

Among other things, Whitaker reports that:

On the streets, something strange happened yesterday: the police melted away and looters moved in. There were repeated allegations that the looters were in fact plainclothes police and other members of the security apparatus whose aim was to cause mayhem and provide the excuse for a harsh crackdown. However, Egyptians responded by setting up their own neighbourhood protection committees – a move that seems to have been relatively effective. (There were similar stories of government-instigated looting during the latter stages of the Tunisian uprising.)

This is an open thread until Minkoff Minx’s Sunday morning post.

33 Comments on “Breaking: Al Jazeera in Cairo Reportedly Being Shut Down and Losing Press Credentials”

  1. Sima says:

    Thanks for posting this. I was going to put it on the other thread, I’d noticed this alarming news on the Al Jazeera website.

    I’m a bit worried about the tweets about a different mood, more sombre, more serious, with no people sitting on tanks or shaking hands with the army. More road-blocks, etc.

  2. Dario says:

    Aljazeera has such difficult time with governments. From what’s available, I like Aljazeera the best for the Middle East.

  3. zaladonis says:

    I’m confused.

    It looks like those tweets about AJ are from January 25. Is this happening now or did it happen five days ago?

    • No the tweets are from today. People on twitter are using the Jan 25 tag to keep everything consistent for people to follow the protests.

      • zaladonis says:

        Doh! – I knew that.

        Thanks for smacking the back of my head so lightly! 😉

        Going downstairs to make a pot of coffee.

  4. Fredster says:

    I wonder if they’re doing this to any other news organizations or just AJ?

    • If it’s just Al Jazeera, the censors probably think cutting them off will help them cut others off, since AJ has been breaking the news on everything.

      • Fredster says:

        I hate to hear this but my first thought was it might be the start of a complete news blackout. There’s not much else out there as far as tv. CNN is just rebroadcasting the same things or else Wolf is pulling marathon hours, and MSNBC is giving us the latest and greatest of Lockup wherever.

        I swore I wasn’t going to pull an all-nighter again but here I am. I’ll probably end up doing 3 or 4 catnaps during the day. LOL!

      • It’s very troubling. Others are afraid about who will replace Mubarak. I am more concerned at this point of which propaganda will replace Al Jazeera’s coverage in Egypt if it is blacked out.

      • zaladonis says:

        I’m watching CNN and they have their own correspondents and their own cameras reporting.

        Yesterday when I watched MSNBC, ditto.

      • zaladonis says:

        Fred, are you watching CNN now? Who are those anchors? I’ve not seen them before.

      • Fredster says:

        zaladonis: I saw a tape with I think Susan Candioti (sp?) and then they went back to the studio. I haven’t seen these two before. I know they did add Martin Savage and saw him earlier in the week. He’s an excellent newscaster.

        I really like to see/hear Richard Engel of NBC. He was embedded a long time over in the M.E. and even learned Arabic. Plus, he is easy on the eyes. (I didn’t write that!)

  5. I added some updates up top about Al Jazeera and about the CEIP’s Working Group on Egypt pushing back on the muddled message the US is sending.

  6. zaladonis says:

    I’ve been watching CNN for half an hour or so this morning, I don’t know these anchors but they’re much better than the usual CNN crowd, and I have to say from what I’ve watched and heard I absolutely disagree with the characterization that they’re spreading fear or in any way propagandizing on behalf of Mubarak.

    To the contrary, if the reporting is skewed it’s in favor of supporting the people — which I think is just fine.

    They also reported about AJ being shut down and their correspondent in Cairo (I think his name was Evan Watson?) expressed a lot of concern and disapproval about that.

    • Zal, perhaps they’ve changed their coverage since there have been complaints and the CNN with the no smoking circle over it was spreading on twitter? And, I think some of the problem is Wolf Blitzer himself who is very sensationalized and hypes stuff in general. For example, he was asking Peter Bergen what Al Qaeda had to do with all of this and kept running that headline even though Bergen said Al Qaeda has nothing to do with this.

      • zaladonis says:

        Totally agree, Wolf Blitzer is horrendous.

        And I saw him talking with Peter Bergen, which I only listened to with half an ear, thought it a pointless exercise. I didn’t notice the headline, good catch! If they’re trying to connect al Qaeda to this or imply they’ll get a foothold in Egypt because of this, forget about it. Egyptians want nothing to do with al Qaeda. Good for Bergen if he said so.

      • I get the impression Wolf is constantly told he’ll lose his job if he doesn’t keep his ratings up or something, ergo hype machine. (Same with Megyn Kelly actually. They hype everything, I can barely stand to listen to them. I don’t remember Megyn on the morning show being *as* grating as she is on her own show now.)

  7. Zal, I added an update to the post with an excerpt with the latest from the Guardian’s Brian Whitaker at his blog al-bab. He talks about the allegations that the looters were in fact plainclothes police trying to make trouble… Whitaker reports that the Egyptians responded by setting up their own neighborhood protection and that it seems to be working.

    • zaladonis says:

      Yes I saw that reported yesterday. Overnight it’s been reported that the looting is more widespread. I don’t know who’s behind it and certainly those allegations should be investigated.

      Have to say though, I do not like being manipulated no matter which side does it, and sentences like this piss me off in the way a writer can cleverly use words to mislead:

      There were repeated allegations that the looters were in fact plainclothes police and other members of the security apparatus whose aim was to cause mayhem and provide the excuse for a harsh crackdown.

      Saying there were “repeated allegations” tells us there is no evidence this is so, only that some unnamed persons have apparently repeatedly said it. We don’t know who they are, how credible they are or what their agenda is. Then the eye moves along and Whitaker’s sentence reads “the looters were in fact plainclothes police and other members of the security apparatus whos aim was to cuase mayhem and provide the excuse for a harsh crackdown.” Well it isn’t a fact and those words are manipulative and misleading.

      • in this case I don’t believe “in fact” was meant to indicate fact or manipulate, as the word allegation seems very intentionally prefaced there. I think the “in fact” is there to signal that the allegations are of the nature of an instance of things not being what they appear. It’s like if I said “there were reports that he wasn’t a Democrat but was in fact a Reagan-worshipping empty suit.

      • of course I could be wrong, but that’s just the way I read it. Whitaker could have said it better, but I think everybody’s trying really hard to blog and keep up and I’m just not sure there was a whole lot of manipulation or weasel word intentions here.

      • zaladonis says:

        Your example is similar. That’s an attempt to manipulate the reader into believing what follows “in fact” is more than unsupported opinion, when in fact it may be unadulterated bullshit. As a stand-alone piece, as opposed to a comment in the middle of a conversation wherein the speaker can be questioned, it’s at best sloppy.

        Good reporting either leaves allegations as allegations or provides support, even if it’s just circumstantial or an informed argument of support, for what follows the “in fact” qualifier. I mean he not only says the looters were plainclothes police, but goes even further and tells us specifically what their aim was. Even if it’s true they were police in plain clothes, how does he know why they were there, which he tags after “in fact.” Maybe they were rogue cops looting. I mean, we don’t know, and that’s something we should know before it’s labeled anywhere in any fashion as “fact.”

        Manipulation is all about the subliminal. You don’t manipulate someone by telling them you’re manipulating them, you do it by inserting certain words or images that trick one into believing what isn’t actually said. That’s how Bush & Co got away with telling so many lies and when you go back to the actual sentences you see they aren’t lies, just really well crafted misleading statements.

        Anyway, it’s not the salient point in this instance and I didn’t mean to distract with it — it’s just something that I notice and let’s just say doesn’t endear the writer to me. The much more important point is the one you made, that there’s a possibility the looters, at least the original ones, were actually police officers.

      • zaladonis says:

        Wonk @ 5:55 – I love that, “weasel word.” Don’t hear that much today.

      • I can’t see that all that much planning went into that one statement in a blog post on a breaking news situation as the way Bush&Co took lots of time to plan out their lies and propaganda and had a whole concerted effort to purposefully mislead. I give Whitaker the benefit of a doubt here since he included the word allegation. I guess we’ll just have to agree to disagree

      • Zal @ 6:09

        We don’t hear it much today because most of the media and our political class uses weasel words, so it’s basically the unusual situation when one of them doesn’t!

      • — it’s just something that I notice and let’s just say doesn’t endear the writer to me.

        I can certainly understand that. I’ve been reading Whitaker from before the Egypt situation broke so I’m cutting him a bit of slack based on prior goodwill.

      • zaladonis says:

        The length of time or amount of planning it takes one to come up with manipulative language isn’t the point, it’s the language itself.

        And quite frankly, if a writer’s cranking out reports very fast and there’s manipulative wording like “in fact” in the context that one appears, that tells me his subconscious mind goes too automatically to a manipulative word choice. He sounds over-excited for something to be true that he wants to be true, and emotional, and that’s when reporting can become unreliable.

    • Zal @ 6:28
      well fwiw, Whitaker’s al-bab blog is separate from his Guardian work. If this one instance were part of a longer standing pattern of his work on the job, I’d look at that differently, but I’m just seeing this as a blogger who may or may not have gotten overexcited but is probably just human. Anyhow, I understood the point about language–it’s why I brought up weasel words. I just think to be fair, blogging isn’t easy in a situation like this sorting through stuff. I know I’m just sorting through it best I can and trying to keep up. Anyhow, the reason I linked to Whitaker rather than other reporting on this was for the follow up part which was about the neighborhood protection committees. I hadn’t seen that other places except on twitter.

  8. Fredster says:

    I think I’ll watch the CNN channel from the bedroom. I’m going to leave it on and if I doze, eh.

    Catch you all later and thanks for all the updates Wonk.

    • Hope you get some rest, Fredster. I wish I could. I have to say, when twitter first came out and started being popularized, I thought it was so silly with people tweeting details about their daily moves from here to there. Did not see the whole Twitter Revolution application coming! In times like these, there’s nothing like live tweets.

  9. Minkoff Minx says:

    Great thread Wonk, you really kept the updates coming. Thank you!

  10. dakinikat says:

    Michigan Cops: Army Vet Threatened Mosques At Bar, Found With Explosives Outside Islamic Center

    Roger Stockham, a 63-year-old Army veteran from California who was reportedly angry at the U.S. government, was arrested by police in Michigan and charged for allegedly threatening to blow up a Mosque in Dearborn.

    Dearborn police allegedly found Stockham inside his vehicle outside the Islamic Center of America with a load of M-80s in his trunk and other explosives, the Detroit News reported.

    Dawud Walid, executive director of the Michigan chapter of the Counsel on American Islamic Relations (CAIR), told the newspaper that police told him the suspect was drinking in a Detroit bar on Monday and threatened to do harm to a mosque in Dearborn. An employee at the bar followed the man outside and wrote down his license plate which he reported to police, Walid told the newspaper.

    The 63-year-old grandfather is charged with one count of a false report or threat of terrorism and one count of possession of bombs with unlawful intent, according to the newspaper.

    “He’s very dangerous,” Dearborn Police Chief Ron Haddad told the Free Press. “We took his threat to be very serious.”