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Egypt | Mar 24, 2019

Egypt slams BBC for 'insulting' anti-Sisi report

AFP
The BBC's coverage of online calls for protests against Egypt's president was branded
The BBC's coverage of online calls for protests against Egypt's president was branded "insulting" by the country's State Information Service. By BEN STANSALL (AFP/File)

Egypt's foreign media body on Sunday slammed the BBC over an "insulting" article which highlighted online calls for protests against President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.

BBC Arabic published a report at the weekend on a widely shared anti-Sisi hashtag -- "Don't worry, you're not alone" -- which called for demonstrations against the president.

Protests are effectively outlawed in Egypt and authorities last year adopted a law to clamp down on social media.

The BBC's coverage was branded "insulting" by the State Information Service, accusing the broadcaster of inciting "violence" and being a "propaganda tool" for the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood.

The report "breaches the most basic codes of conduct... fabricating events that never took place," SIS said in a statement.

It urged "all officials and Egyptian intellectuals" to boycott the BBC until the broadcast apologises.

BBC's Cairo bureau chief Safaa Faisal told AFP on Sunday her office was "aware of the complaint now and we will engage positively."

A BBC spokesperson in London earlier said "to our knowledge we are fully compliant" with SIS regulations.

Also on Sunday, Egypt's top media body said it was looking into complaints about the broadcaster.

They relate to "fabricated videos and lies it transmitted from social media networks," the Supreme Council for Media Regulation said.

Ahmed Moussa, a staunch Sisi supporter and TV host, called for the BBC bureau's closure during his show on the Sada el-Balad channel.

Last year, the BBC came under fierce criticism from authorities over a report which detailed numerous allegations of people being "jailed, tortured or disappeared" in Egypt.

The broadcaster stood by its report, which presented similar claims of abuse under the Sisi administration to those detailed by rights groups.

One of the interviewees was accused by authorities of spreading "false statements" and jailed, after telling the BBC her daughter had been forcibly disappeared.

The daughter appeared on a local television show saying she had run away from her mother, married and had a child.

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