Cairo, Asharq Al-Awsat—The Egyptian branch of the influential Al-Jazeera satellite news channel has been left in a state of turmoil following the toppling of Mohamed Mursi from the presidency, with allegations of bias in its reporting from ex-employees and large-scale resignations among its staff.
Twenty-two employees of the Qatar-based channel reportedly announced their resignations on Monday, according to the Gulf News website, alleging that the channel had pursued a biased, pro-Muslim Brotherhood editorial policy in its coverage of the protests that led to the downfall of Mursi.
This also followed the arrest of 27 employees of the channel by Egyptian security forces in Egypt last Wednesday, following the announcement by Gen. Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi—the minister of defense and army chief of staff—that the constitution has been suspended and power had been transferred to the president of the Supreme Constitutional Court.
The employees were released the next day; the director of Al-Jazeera Live Egypt, Ayman Gaballah, was also released three days later. Security sources said the arrests were based on failure to obtain necessary authorization to work in the country.
Hours after Al-Jazeera correspondents Hajjaj Salama and Wissam Fadel resigned, news anchor Doha Al-Zohairy joined the list as well. Zohairy told Asharq Al-Awsat: “I have been considering resigning since about a week after coverage from the events of June 30 was deliberately excluded.”
Hossam Shalash, a lighting director, also joined the list of people who resigned from the channel that revolutionary forces accuse of siding with the Muslim Brotherhood.
Since the end of last month, Al-Jazeera Live Egypt has covered the speeches of supporters of Mursi; in contrast, the channel often apologized for not covering the Tahrir Square protests, since protesters refused to admit journalists from the channel, accusing it of being pro-Muslim Brotherhood.
One channel employee told Asharq Al-Awsat: “Perhaps there is no specific direction in favor of the Brotherhood, but the affiliation of most workers to this group may confer the biased news coverage.”
The channel confirmed that program host Alaa Ayouti and broadcasters Dina Moussa, Karem Mahmoud and Hassan Abdel Ghaffar, along with the channel’s editor-in-chief, Manal Mahmoud, also submitted their resignations in protest against the channel’s policies.
Last November, angry demonstrators started a fire at the headquarters of Al-Jazeera Live Egypt, which overlooks Tahrir Square, following Mursi’s constitutional declaration that his opponents denounced as undemocratic.
During a joint press conference on Monday by officials from the army and the police, Egyptian journalists expelled Al-Jazeera’s Cairo Bureau Chief Abdel Fattah Fayed. Journalists chanted, “Al-Jazeera get out!” prompting Fayed to leave the conference hall.