UPDATED: Islamists rally against 'media bias' outside Egypt's MPC

Ahram Online, Sunday 24 Mar 2013

Several Islamist groups stage demonstrations on Sunday outside Cairo's Media Production City (MPC) to denounce 'bias, inaccuracy' in Egyptian media

EMPC protest
Dozens of Islamist protesters converge at the Egyptian Media Production City grounds, March 24 (Photo: Ahram Arabic news website)

Hundreds of Islamist protesters converged outside Egypt's Media Production City (MPC) on Sunday to protest perceived anti-Islamist bias in Egyptian media organisations.

Security measures were stepped up outside the MPC, located in 6 October City on the western outskirts of Cairo, in hopes of preventing any outbreak of violence during the planned demonstrations.

"Our peaceful protest aims at uncovering the lies of certain media figures and sending a message to the general public," one protester told Al-Ahram's Arabic-language news website.

Several Islamist groups began issuing calls on Saturday to stage protests outside the MPC against perceived bias in the media's coverage of Friday's clashes near the Muslim Brotherhood's headquarters in Cairo's Moqattam district.

More than a hundred people were injured in clashes between opponents and supporters of the Islamist group outside the group's headquarters, where clashes were most violent.

Another 73 people were injured in clashes in other cities across the country, including the Nile Delta governorates of Gharbiya and Sharqiya and the coastal city of Alexandria. A number of the Brotherhood's regional offices outside Cairo were also attacked.

Egypt's ultra-conservative Al-Gamaa Al-Islamiya movement announced that it would not take part in Sunday's planned protest outside the MPC, or participate in any other act that involved "besieging offices and residences of political parties or media figures."

In a Saturday statement, prominent Salafist figure and disqualified presidential hopeful Hazem Abu-Ismail, for his part, voiced support for the protest calls.

"Apparently, going to the homes of political and media figures –who are instigating Egypt's destruction through their television programmes – has become a necessity," he said.

However, the Salafist 'Hazemoon' movement (which supports Abu-Ismail and is named after him) in the Sharqiya governorate declared its reluctance to take part in Sunday's rally, asserting that it was "not a suitable time for protests."

A number of young Brotherhood members, meanwhile, have issued calls to join Sunday's planned demonstrations. The group's leadership, however, has distanced itself from the calls, but has said that group members had the right to protest on an individual basis.

In a televised press conference on Saturday, Muslim Brotherhood Secretary-General Mahmoud Hussein stressed that his group had not called for demonstrations near any institution, despite the decision by some members to join the rally outside the MPC.

Hussein went on to condemn the "bias and inaccuracy of certain media figures, who presented the clashes [on Friday] as a war between two sides rather than as one side assaulting the other."

Last December, following an appeal by Abu-Ismail, Islamists supporting President Mohamed Morsi staged an almost week-long sit-in outside the MPC to demand the "purge" of those media elements "who are misleading the public and inciting violence."

As of 9:30pm Sunday, hundreds of Islamist demonstrators – some of whom reportedly prevented television hosts of known liberal orientations from entering the complex – were still protesting outside the MPC.

Some of them have reportedly threatened to stage an open-ended sit-in outside the MPC until their demands for the 'purge of the media' are met.

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