Middle Eastern and western media is widely reporting on the suspension of a satellite TV station based in London with ties to the Muslim Brotherhood. According to one report:
Egyptian satellite operator Nilesat has yanked London-based Arab news channel Al-Hiwar off the air. Human rights and media groups have criticized the move, which comes just weeks after a new charter, dubbed “Principles for Regulating Satellite TV in the Arab World,” was nearly unanimously adopted following a meeting of information ministers from the Arab League in Cairo Feb. 12. As the charter was put forward by Saudi Arabia and Egypt, some local commentators have linked the decision to nix Al-Hiwar with the channel’s past criticism of Egyptian government policy. Al-Hiwar was founded in 2006 by managing editor Azzam Al-Tamimi.
While the official spokesman for the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood denied any connection between Al-Hiwar and the Muslim Brotherhood, Azzam Tamimi is a long time member of the Muslim Association of Britain (MAB) and recently switched allegiance to the British Muslim Initiative (BMI), both organizations being part of the Muslim Brotherhood in the U.K. He is the director of the Institute of Islamic Political Thought (IPT), whose Advisory board has included global Muslim Brotherhood leader Youssef Qaradawi as well as long-time Brotherhood supporter Professor John Esposito of Georgetown University. While stating that he “abors violence”, Tamimi is the author of books on Hamas and in a 2004 TV interview, he expressed his willingness to be a suicide bomber. A knowledgeable source who specializes in Arabic translation and media, provides further detail on the connections of Al-Hiwar to the global Muslim Brotherhood:
Founded in the second part of 2006 by Dr. Azzam Tamimi, al-Hiwar Channel is a London based Arab channel which mainly appeals to the Arabs in Europe. The channel mainly concentrates on studio interviews and debates, and actually serves as a mouthpiece for the Muslim Brotherhood around the world. On the channel, Tamimi hosts a program named Revisions [muraja’at] in which he interviews various Arab leaders with background in “militant struggle, ideology or politics” from all ideological spectrum. This program hosted many past and present Muslim Brotherhood leaders from around the world; Zaher / Zahir Birawi, head of programs of the channel usually leads the Palestinian focused programs and Anas Altikriti, who also seems to be a senior figure concentrates on creating bridges and dialogue with Western figures. All three were previously related with the MAB / BMI. From time to time they have an open fatwa program to which viewers from around the world call. More than once the scholar in the studio was Sheikh Salem al-Sheikhi, Chairman of the Fatwa Committee of Great Britain, said to be some kind of a semi-official body subordinated to the European Council for Fatwa and Research, headed by Youssef Qaradawi, and member of the International Union for Muslim Scholars also headed by Qaradawi. It is worth while noting that Abdul Mun’im Mahmoud, an Egyptian al-Hiwar reporter and Muslim Brotherhood blogger has been held in custody by the Egyptian authorities.
Another Arab media report cites comments by Al-Tamimi on the controversy:
“Dr Azzam Al-Tamimi, one of the founders of the channel in London, confirmed to Asharq al-Awsat that the decision to stop the channel from broadcasting went into effect on April 1 and that the channel was informed a few days after the ratification of the Arab media document that Nilesat wants to stop broadcasting it, by the company with which it deals in London. He added that no reason was given for this decision and that an agreement was reached with Nilesat about prolonging the deadline to the end of April but Nilesat did not commit to this agreement. He announced: “We are continuing to broadcast over other satellites and we are discussing the posiiblity of broadcasting over Arabsat. Our lawyers are also looking into the idea of starting legal proceedings against Nilesat”. “While some news reports mentioned that Nilesat’s decision to stop the television channel from broadcasting came as a result of a request submitted by the Egyptian authorities, Al-Tamimi announced that the channel has never received any official complaint by any Arab country except for a few objections from Tunisia. Concerning the belief that the channel is the spokesman for the Muslim Brotherhood group, he announced: “We are the voice of the oppressed throughout the world”.