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At nonviolence rally in Cairo, attacks against the press

Thousands of Egyptians attended the rally organized by supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood. (AP/Khalil Hamra)

New York, June 24, 2013--Several journalists were attacked and threatened in Cairo this weekend at a "Say No to Violence" rally organized by supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood to call on opposition groups to ensure nonviolence on June 30, the day of planned demonstrations and strikes across the country.

"These participants apparently thought it was OK to say yes to violence against journalists," said Sherif Mansour, CPJ's Middle East and North Africa coordinator. "The attacks reflect the Muslim Brotherhood's inability to address the problem of anti-press aggression being committed by its supporters, even at a rally that was supposed to be about nonviolence."

Crews belonging to at least three private TV stations were attacked in Nasr City in Cairo on Friday while covering the rally, according to news reports. Protesters accused journalists affiliated with ONTV, CBC, and BBC Arabic of being "corrupted media" that aimed to undermine the "Islamic project." The crews were attacked with sticks and rods, and their cameras were smashed, the reports said. No injuries were reported.

During the rally, Abdul Rahman al-Bar, one of the leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood, accused independent journalists of corruption and of misleading the Egyptian people by spreading false news, according to news reports. Protesters called the media "thieves" and held several banners, one of which called for "purging the media gang" and included pictures of critical TV hosts being hanged with ropes. The pictures included Al-Nahar's Mahmoud Saad, Orbit's Amr Adib, and CBC's Lamis Hadidi, Bassem Youssef, and Khairy Ramadan.

On Saturday, Azza Mustafa, host of the private TV station Sada Al-Balad, received a death threat on air while hosting an opposition leader for a call-in talk show about the protests. The caller, who identified himself as "Mahmoud from Giza," said, "We will come to you and kill all of you by machine guns."

In an unrelated development, Egypt's prosecutor general referred Adel Hammouda, editor-in-chief of the weekly Al-Fajr, to state security on allegations of "conspiring against the Egyptian government," "insulting the president," and "spreading chaos in the country." The complaint was filed by a private lawyer after Al-Fajr published on June 19 stories about the demonstrations and strikes planned for June 30, news reports said.

  • For more data and analysis, visit CPJ's Egypt page.

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