Friday, February 04, 2011

Holy Hell, Al Jazeera Offices in Cairo DESTROYED

ABC News

Al Jazeera's office in Cairo was stormed and burned today, the most dramatic evidence yet that Egyptian authorities are desperate to shut down the network widely praised for revealing the size and reach of the demonstrations.

Over the last week nine of the network's reporters have been detained and satellite providers across the region have shut its signal off.

The assault on Al Jazeera is part of an offensive against the foreign press by those in Cairo upset by the portrayal of the rock and fire bomb battles. More than 100 reporters, including those from ABC News, have menaced, threatened with death and beaten in the streets.

Much of the anger by the supporters of Egypt's President Hosni Mubarak has been aimed at Al Jazeera.

That authorities have targeted reporters for Al Jazeera English – as well as those for Al Jazeera Arabic -- shows how the younger, more analytical of the two channels has come echo the Arabic channel's ability to get under the skin of autocratic, unpopular regimes.

For almost five years, Al Jazeera English has followed a single motto: "Giving voice to the voiceless." Despite the attempts to silence it, the network's coverage of the revolts seem to be ensuring that its own voice is only getting louder.

Al Jazeera English has its detractors, but its coverage of Egypt has been lauded by most independent critics as aggressive, informative and more extensive than its competitors. Its increasing influence has earned the ire less of the United States -- often called its most obvious target, but which this week defended its right to report freely -- than of the governments of the region. Today at least four governments in the Arab world have banned the channel from operating, none more obviously than the Egyptians in the last two weeks.
Remember how I was talking about "desperation moves"? Yeah. That.

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