Al-Monitor

As elections draw near, Egypt’s media faces further restrictions

Egypt’s top prosecutor has called on his staff to monitor for "fake news," warning against "forces of evil" as this month’s presidential elections approach.

People walk by a poster of Egypt's President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi for the upcoming presidential election, in Cairo, Egypt, March 1, 2018. REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh

Egypt’s Public Prosecutor Nabil Sadek has instructed his staff to monitor news and social media outlets and take legal action against those deemed to be "undermining the country's security."

Branding them "forces of evil," Sadek accused media outlets of spreading false news “to disturb the public order and terrorize society.” The term "evil forces" was used by President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi in January to refer to political opponents who had called for a boycott of the March 26-28 presidential election. Sadek 's comments, meanwhile, appeared directed at foreign media, which unlike most Egyptian mainstream outlets have not been toeing the official government line.

The call on prosecutors to punish government critics came against the backdrop of a with the BBC over a damning" and broadcast Feb. 23, has been slammed by the government as "." This came after a mother told the BBC that her daughter Zuebeida had been "forcibly disappeared"; however, the young woman then appeared on a talk show on the privately owned Egyptian ONTV to .

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