Qatar: Al Jazeera Cairo Office Burnt by Thugs, Arabic Website Hacked

This post is part of our special coverage of Egypt Protests 2011.

UPDATE: Al Jazeera reported that their office in Cairo has been stormed by “gangs of thugs” today. The office has been burned along with the equipment inside it. In the last week its bureau was forcibly closed, all its journalists had press credentials revoked, and nine journalists were detained at various stages. Al Jazeera has also faced unprecedented levels of interference in its broadcast signal as well as persistent and repeated attempts to bring down its websites, said a Press statement released by the network.

Qatar-based Al Jazeera's Arabic news website was reportedly hacked earlier today, by what the news network described as “opponents of the pro-democracy movement in Egypt.”

A Medecins Sans Frontieres advertisement was replaced with an image which showed a picture of president Hosni Mubarak, with the message: “Together we will bring Egypt down.”

According to a Press release sent to Global Voices Online, the network said:

For two hours this morning (from 6:30am – 8:30am Doha time), a banner advertisement was taken over and replaced with a slogan of “Together for the collapse of Egypt” which linked to a page criticizing Al Jazeera.

A spokesman for Al Jazeera said that their engineers moved quickly to solve the problem.

The hacking follows an open battle between Al Jazeera, which has been instrumental in covering the protests of Egyptians against the 30-year rule of Hosni Mubarak and his regime, and the Egyptian government, which has been trying to take it off the air since the protests started on January 25.

An adamant Al Jazeera vowed to continue its work on the ground, and cover the protests, despite the targeted warfare waged by the Egyptian regime, which included the closing of its Cairo bureau, interference with its broadcast signal, taking it off the air, booting it out of the Nilesat satellite, and the harassment and arrest of its journalists, and the confiscation of its equipment.

The story was quickly picked up by netizens around the world, some of whom expressed outrage at the attack.

Iraqi blogger Raed Jarrar has posted screen shots of the hacked advertisement, and the message it was replaced with by the hackers.

Tweeting from the UAE, Sultan Al Qassemi quotes Al Jazeera saying that the “website was hacked by those unhappy with its coverage of the events in Egypt.”

Deena Adel adds:

Al Jazeera website has been hacked – an attempt to tarnish the network's image and obstruct the coverage of #Egypt's #Jan25 protests.

And Sunny Singh notes:

Overnight regime hacked activists, bloggers, protester's accounts. Even Al Jazeera. Apparently they havent figure out how to tweet. #jan25

Meanwhile, others are enjoying the face-off between Al Jazeera and Egypt.

Love this online war. Al jazeera website got hacked for awhile. #Egypt #jan25

This post is part of our special coverage of Egypt Protests 2011.

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