Journalists under threat in Egypt
From The Guardian.
Press freedom groups have warned that an “unprecedented” number of journalists are being targeted by Egyptian forces during the violent crackdown on Muslim Brotherhood supporters.
The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) said it was “deeply disturbed” after several reporters for international media groups, including the Guardian, were assaulted or briefly detained in Cairo over the weekend.
A French television crew were held for about 10 hours on Saturday after they covered a siege by security forces on Fateh mosque, in Ramses Square, in the Egyptian capital. The Guardian’s Egypt correspondent, Patrick Kingsley, was detained twice on Saturday while reporting from the square.
The incidents followed the fatal shootings of a Sky News cameraman and a reporter for a Gulf newspaper last week as part of days of widespread bloodshed across Egypt.
Sherif Mansour, the CPJ’s Middle East and North Africa orogramme co-ordinator, raised the alarm about the apparent crackdown on journalists in the politically-torn country. “The unprecedented number of killings and harassment of journalists in Egypt last week are ominous signs for the Egyptian press,” he said.
“A free press is fundamental to the restoration of democracy and to the inclusion of disparate voices in public discourse. Safeguarding press freedom, as promised by the Egyptian interim government, is a key step in that direction and direly needed right now.”
The weekend incidents came as Egypt’s government-run State Information Service accused international media in a statement of “conveying a distorted image that is very much far from the facts.”
Mansour said he believed the statement appeared to be “the basis for several civilian attacks on journalists”. “Recent statements by Egyptian authorities against the foreign media are deeply disturbing. Having successfully silenced many critical local news outlets, the government is now trying to harangue, harass, and intimidate international journalists into toeing the line,” he added.
Separately, Sky News called on Egyptian forces to undertake an urgent investigation into the circumstances of the fatal shooting last week of Mick Deane, a long-serving cameraman employed by the broadcaster. A spokeswoman for Sky News said: “Mick Deane was killed while carrying out his legitimate role filming events in Cairo. Sky News has expressed its immense concern about Mick’s death to the Egyptian authorities and called for an urgent and thorough investigation.”
Mona Eltahawy, a freelance Egyptian-American journalist, said she does not feel as vulnerable as local journalists. Speaking from Cairo on Tuesday, she said that “even though we’re still Egyptian, and we could still be treated as Egyptians under the emergency law and could still be interrogated under state security, having a foreign nationality offers some protection. I know other journalists are in worse danger.”
Only one of the seven journalists killed in Egypt since 1992 has held a foreign nationality. That individual was also the only journalist to have been working for a local, rather than an international, media organisation. Read more in The Guardian.