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Freedom of speech
 

Egyptian Christian TV targeted by the government

Egyptian police raided Sat-7 channel’s Cairo offices, confiscating equipment and detaining its office director. He was later released pending verdict.

FUENTES Christian Concern, Christian Today AUTOR 5/Evangelical_Focus CAIRO 14 DE OCTUBRE DE 2015 17:10 h
sat 7 Chrisitan TV SAT-7 broadcasts from Egypt.

On 10th October, The Cairo studios of Christian satellite broadcaster SAT-7 were raided by officers from the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology's Censorship Department, who accused it of operating without the necessary licences.



The officers presented a search warrant and Items of equipment including cameras and computers used for editing were confiscated.



The office director, Farid Samir, was detained for six hours, until the police agreed to release him, following the intervention of Egyptian church leaders. But he was ordered to attend the Prosecutor's Office on 11th October.



He faces four charges relating to incorrect registration of a TV channel, failure to hold licences for certain editing activities and failure to comply with regulations concerning live streaming of broadcasts on the internet.



However, according to SAT-7, the Egypt office is a programme production facility and not a satellite broadcast centre. They stated that all the charges were "based on a lack of and/or incorrect information", and evidence was presented to confirm that SAT-7's registration and licences are in good order.



"As far as we know, we have done absolutely nothing wrong. We have the appropriate licensees and approvals. This is a misunderstanding, but unfortunately, it could cost us", the president of SAT-7 USA, Rex Rogers affirmed.





CENSORSHIP, AN INCREASING CONCERN IN EGYPT



Mr Samir has been released pending further discussions between the Prosecutor and the Censorship Department. The Prosecutor will then determine whether the case should proceed to court, or whether it should be dismissed. This is expected to take up to two weeks.



 



Farid Samir, the SAT-7 office director.

In the meantime SAT-7's activities in Egypt are severely disrupted, though broadcasts to Egypt are continuing from Beirut.



The police will continue to hold the confiscated equipment pending a final decision.



SAT-7 emphasises that one of its key aims is to promote peaceful co-existence in the Middle East through fostering bridges of understanding between different faith communities. The channel's work in Egypt is carried out under the legal umbrella of the Coptic Evangelical Church but its services are in support of all the Christian denominations in the country.



The issue of censorship is of increasing concern among Egyptian media following the passing of a new anti-terrorism law in the summer. Christians are a minority in the country and face continual pressure from Muslim hard-liners, though the country's President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi has strongly urged tolerance and religious freedom.



 



The SAT-7 studio in Cairo.



 



PRAYER REQUESTED



After Sunday's court hearing, Samir asked Christians to "unite with us in prayer so that we can complete our ministry, one based on love and which aims to serve our beloved country."



Those close to SAT-7 have also asked Christians to pray "that Christian broadcasters will have boldness and wisdom as they proclaim the Christian message and promote peaceful co-existence in the Middle East."


 

 


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