Renowned Egyptian American columnist Mona El-Tahawy says she was subjected to physical and sexual assault at the hands of the Central Security Forces (CSF) after being arrested at Mohamed Mahmoud Street on Wednesday night. El-Tahawy is a New York-based columnist for Canada's Toronto Star, Israel's The Jerusalem Report and Denmark's Politiken.
El-Tahawy’s arrest was first known Wednesday night when she sent a tweet saying that she was beaten and detained. After several hours of silence, El-Tahawy tweeted again “I am free” and then began to speak of her terrible experience.
After arrest, El-Tahawy was moved to the Ministry of Interior’s where she waited for three hours before being interrogated by military intelligence officers while she was blindfolded. It was at this time that El-Tahawy was also sexually assaulted: “5 or 6 surrounded me, groped and prodded my breasts, grabbed my genital area and I lost count how many hands tried to get into my trousers.”
Mona said that she had to answer questions at first because she had no passport with her, but later refused to cooperate with the military intelligence as a civilian.
The military intelligence apologised for what CSF forces did to El-Tahawy, even recording her statement about the assault and taking photographs of her bruises before releasing her.
El-Tahawy shared a photo of her swollen hand and said that she was going to hospital for a checkup. According to x-rays, both her left arm and right hand are broken. El-Tahawy attacked the CSF on her Twitter account, calling them "bastards" and promising to write an article about her terrifying experience.
The El-Tahawy incident is not the first involving a journalist during the latest clashes in Tahrir Square. Many Egyptian and foreign journalists reported attacks by the security forces. Two reporters lost an eye, including Al-Masry Al-Youm photojournalist Ahmed Abdel Fatah.
Two days ago, Al-Akhbar Daily newspaper’s correspondent Sarhan Sanara in Alexandria was arrested by security forces during his coverage for clashes in front of the Alexandria security directorate and was badly tortured for hours there before being released.
The Journalists’ Syndicate issued a strong-worded a couple of days ago condemning the attacks on journalists and accusing the Ministry of Interior of targeting the media. The syndicate threatened to sue the ministry in case of any further attacks on journalists.