The first episode of a show by TV presenter Moataz Al-Demerdash that was scheduled to air on the privately-owned channel Al-Mehwar on Saturday was banned from broadcast. The episode was supposed to feature an interview with former top auditor Hesham Geneina.
Al-Demerdash recently terminated his contract with the privately-owned MBC Masr, and moved to Al-Mehwar to present the talk show “90 Minutes”. The first episode was set to air an interview with Geneina, who was dismissed by President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi earlier this year.
According to a source in Al-Mehwar who spoke to Daily News Egypt on condition of anonymity, the interview with Geneina was “calm” and presents nothing unusual. He added that the decision to ban the episode came from a sovereign authority.
The source further continued that Al-Demerdash demanded to know the real reason behind the ban if he is to return to presenting the talk show.
The source concluded by saying that Al-Demerdash will not resign, and the second episode of the programme, in which he interviews football trainer Hossam Hassan, will be aired on Monday or the following Saturday. However, he said that negotiations are taking place over whether to air Geneina’s interview on Sunday.
Conversely, another source from Al-Mehwar who also spoke to Daily News Egypt on condition of anonymity said that the ban was decided upon by the channel’s administration and Al-Demerdash has not officially resigned.
The source also denied that the ban was issued by a sovereign authority and said the ban was the result of apprehension towards discussing Geneina’s case while it is still in court.
The source continued that current political circumstances were taken into consideration, and noted that the decision to ban the episode was a collective choice between the programme’s staff and administration.
Al-Demerdash previously worked for Al-Mehwar five years ago when the 25 January Revolution broke out; however, his resignation was thought to be as a result of the difference in viewpoints between Al-Demerdash and the TV channel regarding the revolution. He then moved to the privately-owned Al-Hayah TV channel, followed by MBC Masr, and recently announced that he would sign a contract with Al-Mehwar.
Geneina, who is the former head of the Central Auditing Organisation, was sacked from his position by Al-Sisi in March 2016. In July 2015, Al-Sisi issued a decree giving him the power to dismiss, appoint, and replace heads of regulatory bodies. This decree contradicted the constitution stipulating that these bodies are independent from the state’s executive bodies.
Geneina faces charges of spreading false information and disrupting security and public order, after he claimed that public funds amounting to EGP 600bn were wasted in 2015 as a result of corruption.