Turkey orders Muslim Brotherhood TV channels to halt anti-Egypt rhetoric

Turkey has ordered Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated television channels based in Istanbul to halt criticism of Egypt as the two countries move closer to a rapprochement, Saudi news outlet Al Arabiya said on Thursday.

Turkey has provided a haven for the Muslim Brotherhood in the face of hostility from countries including Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates.

As many as 20,000 members of the group live in Turkey, many of whom fled Egypt after the military ousted the Muslim Brotherhood administration headed by former President Mohamed Morsi in 2013, according to a recent report by U.S. think tank the Century Foundation.

The Turkish government’s affinity for the Muslim Brotherhood has been a key source of tensions with Egypt ever since, including over regional issues such as the Libyan conflict, where Ankara and Cairo have backed opposite sides.

But Turkey has recently indicated a willingness to rebuild relations with Egypt as it seeks a wider reset with Arab countries. 

Earlier this month, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said a deal could be reached with Cairo over disputed maritime borders in the eastern Mediterranean, another long-standing dispute between the two sides.     

However, the Muslim Brotherhood remains a touchstone issue for Egypt and its regional allies, with the UAE and others insisting Turkey halt support for the group as a prerequisite for normalisation.   

Al Arabiya said three pro-Muslim Brotherhood channels broadcasting in Arabic from Istanbul have now been ordered by Turkish authorities to immediately end political programming and criticism of Egypt.

El Sharq TV, Watan TV, Mekameleen were threatened with fines for non-compliance, the news outlet said.