Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Egypt: Journalists and media ensnared in political polarisation in Egypt


Reporters Without Borders

Reporters Without Borders condemns the continuing abusive treatment and acts of violence against journalists during the past week.

Mohamed Bader, a photographer, has been held since 15 July 2013, when he was arrested in Cairo's Ramses Square while covering clashes between police and former President Mohamed Morsi's supporters in which seven people were killed and at least 260 were injured. He was one of more than 400 people arrested in connection with the 15 July clashes. After Bader was charged on 18 July with possessing a firearm, endangering national security and insulting the police, the prosecutor-general's office ordered him held for another two weeks.

Reporters Without Borders condemns the arbitrary nature of his detention and calls for his immediate and unconditional release and the withdrawal of all the charges against him.

Reporters Without Borders also condemns the violence against journalists by pro-Morsi demonstrators, who threw stones at Sky News and ONTV crews in Ramses Square and beat them with sticks.

There was more violence against journalists at pro-Morsi demonstrations during the weekend of 19-21 July.

A demonstrator hit Mena Alaa, a journalist with Al-Masry Al-Youm TV, in the face and took her camera as she was filming an attack on a vehicle during a pro-Morsi march near Republican Guard headquarters in Cairo on 19 July.

Nada Khouwali, an editor with the newspaper Al-Shourouq, took out her camera when she saw clashes between Morsi supporters and opponents while on her way home on 20 July and was immediately attacked by armed young men, who threw her to the ground and accused her of being a Muslim Brotherhood supporter.

Police raided the Cairo bureau of the Iranian TV station Al-Alam on 20 July and confiscated equipment. At first they gave no explanation, then they said the station did not have a permit to broadcast. This was denied by bureau chief Ahmad Al-Sioufi, who was held for 24 hours and then freed on bail of 10,000 Egyptian pounds (1,085 euros).

"It is unacceptable that journalists keep on being targeted by the various protagonists," said Reporters Without Borders. "Egypt's provisional government must take whatever steps are necessary to protect media personnel and media freedom."

Bader's arbitrary detention and the attacks on the various news media come amid continuing political tension since President Morsi's removal from office. News media that support the Muslim Brotherhood have been the target of harsh measures by the police and armed forces, while Morsi supporters are quick to attack media and journalists that do not share their views.