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Democracy in Action? Egyptian Court Orders Newspaper Critical of Islamist Pres. Morsi Confiscated

"Harming the president through phrases and wording punishable by law"

(Photo: Getty Images)

(The Blaze/AP) -- An Egyptian court has ordered the Saturday editions of a newspaper confiscated over allegations that it insulted Islamist president Mohammed Morsi and instigated sectarian discord, Egypt's official news agency said.

Editions of Al-Dustour, a privately owned daily, were seized after several individuals filed lawsuits accusing it of "fueling sedition" and "harming the president through phrases and wording punishable by law," MENA reported.

It was not clear whether the paper was barred from publishing completely, but the Egyptian newspaper al-Masry al-Youm said authorities have removed al-Dustour from newsstands.

Owned by a Christian businessman, the paper has been fiercely critical of Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood while showing strong support for the military council, which took power after the ouster of Hosni Mubarak in last year's uprising.

(Related: 'If You Don't Leave...You Will All Die': Christians Flee Egyptian Town After Deadly Riot)

Saturday's edition featured a lengthy front-page article warning of a Brotherhood "emirate" seizing Egypt while calling on Egyptians to join ranks with the military to confront Islamists.

The lawsuits also accuse the paper of "inflammatory" coverage of recent sectarian violence.

Several days earlier, a TV network was ordered off the air over allegations that it suggested the killing of Morsi. The network, el-Faraeen, broadcasts populist talk show host Tawfiq Okasha, a former Mubarak loyalist who regularly expresses enmity toward the revolution and the Muslim Brotherhood on his show.

According to Egyptian news agencies, the channel could have its license revoked, will remain off air for at least one month, and both the channel's owner and one of its anchors are under investigation by the country’s State Security prosecutors for “inciting violence.”

Several people were reportedly attacked while protesting the suspension of the program, including the editor-in-chief of another Egyptian daily newspaper.  After the protest, the man accused the Muslim Brotherhood of assaulting him and attempting to smash his car.

"We welcome news that some journalists have filed reports about the incident," the organization's Secretary-General Mahmoud Hussein replied, denying any responsibility.

He added: "We were surprised to hear we were even accused of involvement."

However, the Muslim Brotherhood has reportedly moved to replace chief editors of Egypt's state-run newspapers, the Associated Press related.

On Thursday, journalists staged small protests and columnists left their columns blank to protest the government's efforts to control the media.

Regardless of whether their actions influence the Muslim Brotherhood, one thing is clear-- a free press may not be welcome in the new "democratic" Egypt.


One last thing…
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