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Egyptian pro-Sisi media to temper criticism of Turkey amid warming relations




Cairo hailed recent Turkish demands that Egyptian opposition television stations based in Istanbul tone down criticism of President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, adding that the Egyptian-based media should also “embrace calm”.

In statements to BBC In Arabic on Friday, Egyptian Information Minister Osama Heikal said the Turks’ decision to temper Sisi’s criticism “could create an encouraging atmosphere for dialogue between the two countries and resolve bilateral issues that have not been resolved for years “.

“The Egyptian media are expected to adhere to the calm vis-à-vis Turkey in order to allow an appropriate atmosphere for negotiations between the two countries, if any,” Heikal added, in the first official Egyptian commentary. on matter.

A senior Turkish government official, who was briefed on the matter, told MEE on Thursday – on condition of anonymity – that the leaders of Mekameleen and Al-Sharq, two Egyptian satellite TV stations based in Istanbul, had been invited to soften their political criticisms against the Egyptian government and stop personally attacking Sisi, in the midst of a rapprochement between the two regional powers.

“There is no need to panic,” added the official, who said the allegations that Turkey was going to shut down the channels were false.

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Ankara has been at odds with Cairo since the 2013 military coup led by then Defense Minister Sisi against his democratically elected predecessor, Mohamed Morsi.

Morsi was a leading member of the Muslim Brotherhood, Egypt’s largest political movement, which has since been crushed by Sisi. He was backed by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who refused to recognize Sisi’s legitimacy after the coup.

The two regional powers have clashed over several other issues in recent years, including the war in Libya – where they supported rival camps – and maritime disagreements.

Sisi’s government banned all political opposition and all independent media, so many fled into exile and launched channels abroad, mainly in Turkey, which has become a safe haven for members of the opposition and supporters of Morsi.

In recent weeks, however, statements from both sides have hinted at further efforts to improve relations.

Egyptian MP Mustafa Bakri, close to the government, told the BBC in Arabic that the Turkish decision “would pave the way for the restoration of relations between the two countries”.

“But Ankara must take practical steps to stop incitement to hatred against Egypt and interfere in its affairs. Turkey must also pledge not to harbor terrorists on its territory,” Bakri added, in inflammatory language commonly used by the Egyptian government to describe political opposition.

Meanwhile, the online media Al-Manassa reported On Sunday, Egyptian television stations and newspapers received a request from the government to “stop discussing Turkish affairs” three days after reports of the Turkish demands.

“We were given directives to stop talking about Turkey and Erdogan on March 15, to avoid the news of the Turkish opposition and lawmakers opposed to Erdogan, and any news of the economic crisis there, for a indefinite duration, “a source told a public broadcaster. the website says.

Channels remain open

A high-ranking Mekameleen TV source told MEE last week that the Turkish government officially asked the channel “to adjust its editorial line in accordance with journalistic professionalism”, but confirmed that Turkey had not asked chains to close.

Meanwhile, Al-Sharq chairman Ayman Nour, also a top Egyptian opposition politician, said there was some “hype” in reporting on Turkish demands.

“The Turkish-Egyptian rapprochement will certainly have its ramifications,” he told Mekameleen in an interview.

“I don’t expect any of those ramifications to be shutting down channels. Our brothers in Turkey might have a demand for these channels to adhere to codes of conduct.

Turkey calls on Egyptian opposition channels to tone down criticism of Sisi

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“We respect the circumstances Turkey is going through now, but that will not force us to abandon our mission or our principles,” Nour added.

Al-Sharq TV apologized Thursday night for showing some of its political programs, without saying why, according to the BBC.

The development comes amid heightened international condemnation of Egypt’s human rights record under Sisi, with 31 countries denouncing its government’s use of “terrorism” accusations against its political opposition.

In response to a United Nations Human Rights Council declaration signed in early March, Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry accused “a powerful media machine” led by “terrorist organizations” seeking to denigrate Egypt abroad, with reference to opposition channels based in Turkey.

The comment was seen by an opposition journalist Gamal sultan as “the first official confession that the opposition media have triumphed over the state media”.

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