Egypt (SAT7/MNN) — Some disconcerting news just broke for SAT-7 Arabic in Cairo, Egypt. On Saturday 10th October, President of SAT-7 USA, Rex Rogers explains, “The authorities in Cairo came unannounced to SAT-7’s offices with search warrants.” These were officers from Egypt’s Censorship Department, he says, adding, “They took equipment, they took materials, and they took the executive director and detained him, suggesting that we didn’t have a series of licenses to operate the facility.”
The Office Director, Mr. Farid Samir, was detained for 6 hours but then released after an 11 October hearing at the Public Prosecutor’s Office. “He has to return, however, because there are still some legal issues that have to be worked through.” Rogers says Samir faces four charges relating to operating a satellite TV channel without the necessary licenses, although the SAT-7 Egypt office is a program production facility and not a satellite broadcast center for any of the SAT-7 channels.
”We can say ‘Praise God!’ Through our local protestant Church under which we operate there in Cairo, we had an appropriate attorney. In fact, there were three attorneys present,” notes Rogers, adding that the attorneys were able to answer almost all of the charges. (The work of SAT-7 Egypt is carried out under the legal umbrella of the Coptic Evangelical Church, but its services are in support of all the Church denominations in Egypt.) According to information released through SAT-7 International, throughout the course of the hearing, it soon became clear that all charges are based on a lack of and/or incorrect information.
A decision will be taken by the Public Prosecutor in the next few days concerning whether this case will go to court. Rogers says, “As far as we know, we’ve done absolutely nothing wrong. We have the appropriate licensures and approvals. This is a misunderstanding, but unfortunately, it could cost us.”
In the meantime, the confiscated equipment remains in police custody. What’s happening to the normal activities of SAT-7 in Egypt? “They shut it down. One of the charges was that we didn’t have a license to do editing kinds of things, so they took equipment. We were not able to go on the air Saturday evening with a very important program.” That’s not to say SAT-7 is totally offline in Cairo. The team is still producing programming in through SAT-7’s Beirut studios, rather than through the SAT-7 Egypt offices, and the Arabic channels are still broadcasting. Rogers says, “People can pray that this will be resolved. SAT-7 or our director could incur a fine.”
Though facing challenges, the SAT-7 team in Egypt remains encouraged by the love and support they have received over this difficult weekend. Of Samir, Rogers says, “This is not resolved. It’s not over. Pray for them on a very personal level.” The situation has been stressful for the young family. Pray for SAT-7, that God would protect His ministry and its resources. In the period following his hearing, Samir invited the body of Christ to “unite with us in prayer so that we can complete our ministry – one based on love and which aims to serve our beloved country [Egypt]”.