Last Update 22:1
Tuesday, 28 January 2020

TV host Abdel-Rehim Ali taken off air after Sawiris remarks

Black Box on Al-Qahira Wal Nas satellite channel, which has aired private phone calls by political activists over the past year, claimed business tycoon Naguib Sawiris funded terrorism in Sinai

Zeinab El-Gundy , Monday 18 Aug 2014
Abdel-Rehim Ali (L) and Naguib Sawiris (R)
Abdel-Rehim Ali (L) and Naguib Sawiris (R)
Views: 4870
Views: 4870

Controversial TV programme Black Box has been taken off air on Sunday evening.

The show's host, Abdel-Rehim Ali, accused business tycoon Naguib Sawiris of being behind the suspension.

Sunday's episode was pulled by hosting Al-Qahira Wal Nas channel, which later announced the show had been suspended.

Ali, who is also editor-in-chief of Al-Bawaba news website, claimed the channel was giving into pressure from Sawiris.

Ali had claimed he was going to air phone calls proving Naguib Sawiris had funded the pro-Muslim Brotherhood Rabaa Al-Adawiya and Nahda protest camps, as well terrorist operations against army and police targets in the Sinai Peninsula.

A war of words between Ali and Sawiris started last Thursday when the latter said via Twitter that he could no longer watch the show and accused Ali of being  "an informant."

“Watching another episode from that informer Abdel-Rehim Ali’s show will turn me in to a Muslim Brotherhood sympathiser," Sawiris said.

Last Thursday, Ali aired phone calls which he claimed were of Brotherhood leaders trying to buy weapons from arm dealers for use at the Rabaa and Nahda sits-in, which were dispersed on 14 August last year leaving hundreds dead.

On Sunday,  Ali accused Sawiris of failing to fulfill his pledge to donate LE3 billion to the "Long Live Egypt" fund, set up by President El-Sisi, and of donating LE7 billion to the Muslim Brotherhood.

"The Muslim Brotherhood used the seven billion to buy weapons and kill our sons from the army and police in Sinai," he claimed in his Al-Bawaba column.

In March 2013, Orascom Construction Industries, which is owned by the Sawiris family, paid LE7 billion to the Egyptian government after a tax dispute.

In the same column, Ali shared the alleged transcript of a phone call between former vice president Mohamed ElBaradei and Naguib Sawiris from March 2013. During the call, Sawiris and ElBaradei discussed their meetings with EU officials as well the situation in Egypt.

Ali also hinted that Sawiris had accused then-defence minister Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi of being a member of the Brotherhood.

Sawiris is a founder of the liberal Free Egyptians Party, which joined the National Salvation Front formed during the presidency of the Brotherhood's Mohamed Morsi to oppose his policies.

In statements to Al-Watan newspaper website on Sunday, Al-Qahira Wal Nas owner Tarek Nour denied Sawiris had influenced the decision to suspend the show.

“Sawiris did not call the channel or interfere to get the show suspended. The channel administration had to suspend it after Ali violated the rules and policies set up by the channel.

"Ali turned the discussion of general matters into a discussion of his own personal vendettas to defame people.

 “We agreed to air the phone calls because we thought they served the current national security demands and policies, especially because Egypt is currently at a very critical moment.”

In the past Ali used to speak about movements, such as the April 6 Youth Movement, and not particular people, Nour added.

The show began airing private telephone conversations of activists and politicians in December 2013. They included calls by Wael Ghonim, Asmaa Mahfouz, Mostafa El-Naggar, Mohamed ElBaradei, April 6 founders Ahmed Maher and Mohamed Adel, as well leading Brotherhood members.

Ali claimed the calls proved the activists had been plotting to bring down the state since the January 2011 revolution.

Several activists filed lawsuits against Ali and Al-Qahira Wal Nas for violating the constitution and the law, while a number of human rights organisations called for the prosecutor-general to open an investigation into how Ali acquired the recordings.

In early January, the interior ministry denied any connection with the leaks.


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