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Egypt channels to suspend programming for pro-military protests

Several Egypt television channels will suspend entertainment schedule on Friday to cover pro-army demonstrations against 'terror'

Ahram Online, Thursday 25 Jul 2013
Abdel Fattah al-Sisi
Egypt's Defense Minister Abdel Fattah al-Sisi (Photo: Reuters)
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A number of satellite channels, including CBC, Dream, Al-Hayah, Al-Mehwer, Al-Kaqera Wel Nas, OnTV, Tahrir TV and MBC Masr, have announced that their entertainment programming on Friday will be cancelled to cover expected mass pro-army demonstrations.

The channels will suspend their regular Ramadan programming, which features soap operas, religious programmes, sit-coms and a large number of commercials, to broadcast the minute-by-minute events of the day.

In a speech delivered Wednesday morning, military chief Abdel Fattah El-Sisi issued an unprecedented call for nationwide protests on Friday to mandate the armed forces and police to clampdown on "violence and terrorism."

At least three Egyptian political forces, including the Egyptian Revolutionary Socialists, April 6 Youth Movement and Salafist Nour Party,  have rejected El-Sisi's call.

"The army does not need 'permission' to deal with terrorist acts; it has the legal means to do that and more," the Egyptian Revolutionary Socialists said in a statement released on Thursday.

The 6 April Youth Movement made similar criticisms, announcing that El-Sisi's call would only worsen the current political crisis.

"The act of mobilisation and counter-mobilisation foreshadows civil war," the Nour Party – a former ally of the Muslim Brotherhood which then supported the military's ouster of Morsi – said in a statement Wednesday evening.

Meanwhile, the National Coalition in Support of Legitimacy, a Brotherhood-led Islamist alliance, has renewed its call for marches and mass protests across the country on Friday to press for Morsi's reinstatement.

El-Sisi's speech follows a series of deadly clashes in governorates across the country between supporters and opponents of ousted president Mohamed Morsi earlier this month. Morsi supporters have staged continued protests condemning his ouster on 3 July.

Soap operas have become a staple of the average Egyptian's Ramadan diet. The political turmoil experienced by Egypt since the 2011 revolution has entered Ramadan television programming. Political themes are easily spotted in a large share of the 50 plus serials and programmes showing during the Islamic fasting month of Ramadan on Egyptian and Arab satellite channels, alongside religious programming and seemingly endless advertisements.  

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