Dar Al-Ifta’s Fatwa Monitoring Observatory said Sunday that “terrorist organisations” have established fake media outlets in the West to “spread lies and rumours that target the reputation of Egypt”.
The observatory added that it has reviewed some “flawed” reports from “the British website Middle East Eye, which all [Muslim] Brotherhood supporting websites cite”.
“It is clear, after a close monitoring of what is being published in Middle East Eye, that it supports terrorist organisations, where it publishes flawed reports in the West to draw an authoritarian image of the Egyptian regime, contrary to reality,” the observatory said.
It added that websites supportive of the Muslim Brotherhood report news from the British website “to increase terrorist operations in Egypt and to deceive Egyptians”.
“About the security situation in Egypt and after news of the death of the Croatian hostage [Tomislav Salopek]”, the observatory said that Middle East Eye concluded “the abduction of foreigners in Egypt will affect foreign investment, and will affect the already weak Egyptian economy”.
Further, the observatory accused the Middle East Eye of “hinting that the Egyptian government had failed to fulfil their promises to eliminate terrorism”.
The website’s coverage includes MENA countries, with a focus on political and social issues. Requests to the editorial board of Middle East Eye to comment on the issue received no reply.
The website covered the killing of Salopek, saying the “abduction has rattled foreigners working for multinational companies and underscored the militants’ reach”. It also said that Egypt, under the current regime, “had been at pains to persuade international investors and companies that the country was safe after two years of violence and militant attacks”.
“Sisi was the former army chief who overthrew president Mohamed Morsi in 2013, setting up a police crackdown on Morsi’s followers that killed more than 1,000 protesters,” the website reported.
The observatory, which called upon media personnel and journalists not to “follow rumours and lies, published all the time”, was formed after the rise of “Islamic State” last year. It have been monitoring fatwas and measures undertaken by Islamists, starting from Muslim Brotherhood leaders to actions of Islamist militants in Iraq and Syria, such as beheadings, the abuse of women, and destroying monuments.
Major Sunni Islamic institutions based in Egypt have been assisting the Egyptian government in countering militancy by arguing that Islamist militants all have the same ideology. The Egyptian authorities have, on several occasions, used institutions under its wing to comment and condemn reporting by foreign and local media outlets.
The latest condemnation took place on Saturday, as Egypt’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs again spoke out against international reports, that it claims portray untrue and politicised analyses of the government and the country’s political and security situation. The ministry rubbished a Friday press release by Human Rights Watch (HRW) which reiterated calls for an investigation into the events of August 2013 on the basis of “probable crimes against humanity”.
Foreign Ministry spokesperson Ahmed Abu Zeid expressed Egypt’s “absolute rejection of such a politicised and un-objective report”. He added that the report lacked “any semblance of credibility or impartiality, and was issued by an entity with no jurisdiction”.
In 2014, a HRW delegation, led by the group’s executive director Kenneth Roth, was held for 12 hours and denied entry to Egypt, as they attempted to launch their report ‘All According to Plan’.
Commenting on Friday’s report, Abu Zeid said that HRW’s calls for a UN investigation are “absurd”, as the organisation gives “no heed” to those who die by “the brutality of terrorism in Egypt every day”. He added that HRW “insists on neglecting the terrorist nature of the group it defends”, an apparent reference to the once-governing, now-outlawed Muslim Brotherhood movement.
Similarly, the Ministry of Interior had arrested a journalist on criminal charges, but pointed out that he participated in reporting “alleged violations by the police”.
This is not the first incident of its kind. Egypt has witnessed a sweeping crackdown on dissidents in the wake of the 30 June uprisings, including reporters. At least 44 reporters were arrested in 2014, but are not necessarily currently detained, according to the Association of Freedom of Thought and Expression (AFTE).
Egypt’s diplomatic organisations, as well as President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi, have called upon the international community to stop hosting “media platforms that advocate terrorism”.
Following the military ouster of former president Mohamed Morsi, many Islamist politicians and activists fled the country fearing the rising crackdown. They mainly reside in Turkey, Qatar, and Britain. Many of them are actively critical of the Egyptian state in private channels such as Al Jazeera, Mekamilin and Al-Sharq.