Egypt’s new regime may harass us, but al-Jazeera will carry on reporting | Abdelfattah Fayed

If you want to restrict the flow of information, you try to restrict al-Jazeera. So we’ve faced special intimidation in recent days

It was highly symbolic that the first act of last week’s change of government in Egypt was the takeover of state TV. What has followed has been a dark week for media freedom in Cairo.

Systematic intimidation of journalists has followed for those who have not come under regime control. ITN and CNN crews have been rounded up and detained. A CNN reporter tweeted that he was not venturing into crowds due to anti-CNN and anti-American sentiment. Jeremy Bowen of the BBC was wounded by pellets.

There is no doubt though that al-Jazeera has been singled out for extra special treatment. In the hours after the change of government, 28 of our staff were rounded up and detained. Journalists from other outlets talked about being approached on the whereabouts of al-Jazeera reporters as a manhunt was under way around Cairo.

Associated Press Television News was ordered to prevent us from using live feeds from their cameras. The feeds from our correspondents in Cairo to our studios in Doha are being cut 10 times a day.

Personally, I was hounded away from a military press conference by supposed follow journalists. The astonishing press conference ended with the assembled media offering the spokesman a round of applause. Beforehand, I had to “turn myself in” to the authorities on the ludicrous accusation of “endangering national security”.

Leaflets have been distributed outside our offices, and posters erected, depicting the al-Jazeera logo formed from blood. Our Egyptian staff have been receiving calls from shadowy figures, subtly and not-so-subtly telling them that their futures are best served by being away from al-Jazeera. Most of them are new to the dedicated al-Jazeera Egypt channel since they have only been building the channel there in recent times. It’s understandable given these pressures that some have considered their position, in the best interests of their careers and families.

This campaign of intimidation has been constructed against al-Jazeera because we attract the most eyeballs in the Arab region. If you want to restrict the flow of information, you try to restrict al-Jazeera. The playbook isn’t new, we’ve been through it at the hands of various regimes since we were established in 1996. This was the case during the January 25 revolution, when our correspondents were hounded and our broadcast signal jammed.

The allegation currently is that we favour the Muslim Brotherhood. The fact is that al-Jazeera is the only regional outlet that gives fair airtime to the organisation. We also give time to secularists, liberals, supporters of the Mubarak regime, Tamarod, the National Salvation Front and more. The Muslim Brotherhood were elected in free elections, and depriving them of a platform, as many other outlets do, would be unfair and biased.

It’s therefore disappointing to see outlets from outside Egypt uncritically reporting these accusations of bias. It’s no doubt jarring for opponents of the Brotherhood to hear their opinions, but that’s no reason for them to be censored. Their views are essential to understanding what is going on in Egypt. Our mantra of airing “The opinion and other opinion” is why we remain the most-watched news network in the region by some considerable margin.

It’s also why we have never fallen in line with the bargain presented to us of complying with the diktats of governments in return for an easy life. If harassment is the price to be paid for serving our viewers with the credible news they expect, then it’s a price our journalists have always been ready to pay.

As the leaflet distributed outside our Cairo bureau said: “A bullet may kill a person, a lying camera kills a nation.” We couldn’t agree more. © 2013 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds