Egypt refuses US request to shut down Iraqi channel

Abdel-Rahman Hussein
4 Min Read

Cairo: Nilesat continues to host Sunni Insurgency channel

Friendly US requests to pull an Iraqi satellite channel off the Egyptian government-run Nilesat satellite have been rebuffed.

The Al-Zawraa channel highlights the point of view of the Iraqi resistance and various armed groups who say they are fighting against US and Iranian occupation.

It often airs images of Sunnis being tortured by militias and also broadcasts footage of attacks on US soldiers.

Amin Bassiouny, Chairman of Nilesat, said that satellites are not responsible for controlling or censoring content of the channels they hosts therefore the Egyptian satellite should not be dragged into the dispute over the channel.

“For example, when Al Jazeera broadcasts wrong information on Egypt or Syria or Jordan, these countries respond without involving the satellite that hosts Al Jazeera, because it is just a carrier of information not a censor, he said.

Lawrence Pintak, director of the Adham Center for Electronic Journalism at the American University in Cairo has written extensively on this subject. He told The Daily Star Egypt that the channel reflects the contradictory realities currently pervasive in the Middle East.

“Egypt has thousands, if not tens of thousands of radical extremists in jail, Pintak said, “yet it hosts a channel which is the most militant of militant channels.

Pintak added that this “shows that the degree of policies in the Middle East are elastic, and are shaped to fit the current situation. Due to this, observers are deeply cynical of Arab or US policies in the region because it is constantly shifting, Pintak added.

A previous article in The Daily Star Egypt quoted a US diplomat as saying “We find the channel utterly offensive. Getting the Egyptians to pull the plug is at the top of our agenda .

For his part, Egyptian Minister of Information Anas al-Fiki dismissed the whole idea saying that it’s just “business .

He was quoted in a previous Daily Star Egypt article as saying “For us, it means nothing. It is a channel that reserved an allocation on Nilesat. They had a contract, paid the fees. There is nothing political for Nilesat. It’s pure business. We have no concern what the channel is doing.

Al-Fiki claims he was approached in a friendly way by US Ambassador to Egypt Francis J. Ricciardone but has not received any formal requests to shut down the channel, whether by the Americans or the Iraqi government.

The Iraqi government had shut down Al-Zawraa’s office in Baghdad last November, but officials from the channel requested Nilesat to rebroadcast footage that has already aired.

Channel officials had later claimed that the channel was due to be hosted on a European satellite, and available for the European public. Pintak said “Seeing is believing. [Al Zawraa] is not on them yet. I am skeptical in the extreme that it will appear.

However, if it did, Pintak predicted that there would be a backlash in Europe.

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