New York, April 7, 2010—Uniform and plainclothes Egyptian security forces assaulted and obstructed journalists trying to cover protests in Cairo on Tuesday, according to news accounts and interviews. The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns the actions and calls for authorities to stop harassing journalists reporting from the scene of news events.
Several journalists reported that police prevented them from covering clashes between security forces and protesters calling for constitutional reforms and the end of the state of emergency, which has been in place since 1981. Among those obstructed were Samir Amr, an Al-Jazeera correspondent; Ibrahim Kamal Eddin, a reporter for the independent daily Nahdat Misr; Imad Fawaz, a reporter with the opposition daily Al-Karama; Mohamed Hussam Eldeen, a photographer with the independent daily Al-Masry al-Youm; and a Dream TV crew.
Authorities had refused permission for the demonstrations, organized by the April 6 Youth Movement, a two-year-old, reform-minded group that takes its name from the date of a labor strike in 2008.
Amr told CPJ that several journalists were roughed up while trying to cover the unauthorized strike. “Security officers surrounded us, seized our cameras and ordered us to leave the scene,” he told CPJ. “I saw some of my colleagues beaten up, insulted and violently taken away from the scene.”
Kamal Eldeen told CPJ that two police officers grabbed him by the neck and pushed him violently. “I showed them my journalist credentials, but they told me they didn't care who I was,” he said.
Egyptian authorities routinely resort to intimidation tactics and have periodically resorted to violence in their efforts to limit reporting and photographic evidence of police brutality against peaceful demonstrators, CPJ research shows.
“These attacks on reporters are part of a disturbing trend of suppressing coverage of political demonstrations and public gatherings in Egypt,” said CPJ Middle East and North Africa Coordinator, Mohamed Abdel Dayem. “We call on the government to end this heavy-handed censorship immediately and issue clear, public instructions to all security forces that interfering with the work of journalists will no longer be tolerated.”