Turkish authorities have obligated three Muslim Brotherhood TV channels broadcasting from Istanbul to avoid attacks against Egypt. Image Credit: Supplied

Abu Dhabi: Turkish authorities have obligated the Muslim Brotherhood TV channels, broadcasting from Istanbul, to adhere to the press and media honor code, avoid political affairs, attacks and insults against Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al Sisi and the Egyptian government, and abandon incitement and offense to the Egyptian state and the Gulf states, officials said.

The move is the first practical step that translates successive statements over the past weeks about Turkey’s desire to open a new page in relations with Egypt.

The three Muslim Brotherhood channels (Al Sharq, Mkamleen and Watan) changed the map of their programmes and canceled the broadcast of some political programmes, characterised by severe rhetoric towards the Egyptian government, Thursday night, after a meeting held by officials in the Turkish Foreign Ministry in Ankara with the heads of the three channels, during which they asked it to change the editorial policy of the channels, to fit the new stage, in which Ankara is working on rapprochement with Cairo.

Limit coverage

The Turkish authorities instructed to limit the coverage of the three channels to social and cultural issues, and to stay away from political issues that constitute interference in Egypt’s internal affairs, officials added.

Yassin Aktay, advisor to the head of the ruling Justice and Development Party, said the step taken by the Turkish government came to control the performance of these channels, within the framework of the current trend to improve relations with Egypt, after it noticed that there was inappropriate political content that contravenes the media code of honour.

Aktay, who represents the link between the Turkish authorities, the Brotherhood, and members of other political Islam currents from various Arab countries, claimed that the Turkish authorities did not follow up on what these channels broadcast, until they were briefed by the Egyptian government that there were transgressions in their programmes.

Turkish media reported that the authorities imposed house arrest on Brotherhood leaders and media professionals working in these channels, and demanded 30 leaders to remain silent and not make political statements, indicating that the coming days may witness auditing the accounts of some leaders and media professionals in banks, and deportation Some of them, and the extradition of numbers of people wanted by the Egyptian authorities for being convicted of crimes in Egypt.

But Aktay denied that there is a tendency to extradite any of the elements living on Turkish territory.

“There is only a demand to reconsider the media discourse directed at Egypt, and to control speeches, under the media laws,” he said, denying rumors of placing journalists in the Brotherhood’s channels under house arrest.

Sources in those channels revealed that the Turkish side’s instructions were clear, to change the editorial policy of these channels in line with the journalist and media honor charter, and to stop incitement and offending campaigns, with a warning to close down channels that do not comply, and deport media professionals, who do not respond to the new rules of work.

The Chairman of the Board of Directors of Al Sharq channel, Ayman Nour, ruled out that the channels’ content would be completely devoid of political programmess, but he admitted that the political rapprochement between Egypt and Turkey might have some repercussions.

Move welcomed

Nour said on his Twitter account there was a restriction on the part of the Turkish authorities on the channels broadcasting from Istanbul.

However, he added he believes that Turkey will not take the step of closing any channel, pointing out that there is a request from the authorities to adhere to the “media code of honour”.

The Turkish move, which came after a series of statements by the Turkish president and a number of his ministers about the importance of returning relations with Egypt to normal, was welcomed by the Egyptian Minister of State for Information Osama Haykal.

“The Turkish move is a good gesture from the Turkish side that creates an appropriate atmosphere for discussing the contentious issues between the two countries, over the past years,” Haykal said.

Last Sunday, Egyptian Foreign Minister, Sameh Shoukry, said, “If we find that there is a change in the Turkish policy towards Egypt, non-interference in internal affairs, and the adoption of regional policies that are compatible with the Egyptian policy, this may be a ground and a starting point for restoring normal relations, ”indicating that Ankara must translate words into actions.”