Turkish authorities have ordered Istanbul-based TV channels affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood to stop airing criticism and incitement leveled against Egypt and Gulf states immediately.
The move represents the first real step taken by Ankara towards improving ties with Egypt after it had repeatedly claimed to have a desire to turn over a new leaf in its relationship with the African country.
The dispute between Ankara and Cairo began after the Egyptian army ousted Muslim Brotherhood President Mohammed Morsi, who was an ally of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
Egypt later recognized the group as an extremist organization which caused multiple Muslim Brotherhood members and their supporters to flee to Turkey after their activities were banned in the country.
Turkey issued an order for three Muslim Brotherhood channels (El Sharq TV, Watan TV, Mekameleen) to immediately stop airing political shows critical of Egypt and to only air non-political shows and series.
Penalties will be imposed on those who defy the order; this includes permanently closing down the TV stations.
Ayman Nour, head of El Sharq TV, confirmed that Turkish officials demanded that the channels tone down their rhetoric as Turkey seeks warmer ties with Egypt.
In a tweet, Nour ruled out Turkish authorities shutting down any channel but acknowledged that the media outlets were under pressure to dim criticism of Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi’s rule.
Nour described the order from Turkish authorities as a “crisis” that he had hope for the channels to overcome.
He added that Ankara was now “focused on media conduct in the context of these latest exchanges between Turkey and Egypt.”
Turkish officials demanded that stations and media outlets “commit to respecting the charters of journalistic ethics.”
Yasin Aktay, an adviser to Erdogan, said the move said that move by Turkish authorities followed a recognition that the stations were broadcasting inappropriate political content that contradicts journalistic ethics.
Aktay claimed that the Turkish authorities were unaware of the content being spread by the networks until they were notified by the Egyptian government.
He also denied Ankara was planning to expel or hand over Egyptian journalists and political opponents to Cairo.
“Turkey will not arrest anyone or hand anyone over,” Aktay said on social media.
Egypt’s Minister of Information Osama Heikal said he welcomed news of Turkey’s decision to ban anti-Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood channels, referring to it as “a good initiative.”
Heikal said the decision “creates an appropriate atmosphere for discussing controversial issues.”
And he said Egypt’s position was constant and worked to “develop relations with everyone according to common interests."