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Logan should tell what she knows

The details surrounding the reported sexual assault on CBS reporter Lara Logan are scant and conflicting. One reporter who experienced something similar appeals to Logan to speak out

Agnes Rajacic , Thursday 10 Mar 2011
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We have heard in the past two weeks a lot of speculation about what happened to foreign female journalists in Tahrir Square on 11 February. There has been much Muslim bashing and victim blaming in the global blogosphere regarding the case of CBS correspondent Lara Logan. This writing will not be that, but instead a personal testimony.

Was I merely lucky to avoid what happened to Lara Logan, who suffered a “serious sexual assault and beating” and — according to some other sources — “had been raped” right after Mubarak resigned from the presidency? At the same time, and at the same place, where I had been walking for hours?

Foreign reporters did not have it easy in Egypt during the revolution. According to Committee to Protect Journalists, more than 140 journalists were harassed or banned through 8 February, and one Egyptian journalist was killed. These conditions were applied by state authorities and pro-Mubarak protesters before the resignation of the president.

Paranoia was undoubtedly growing, and I was myself, on two occasions, thought to be an Israeli spy and, on one occasion, confronted by a Hebrew speaking Palestinian woman, where I had to prove that my zero knowledge of Hebrew made me an unlikely foreign agent. Fortunately, the suspicions were dropped.

Attacks were not expected from civilians after the long-awaited resignation. The ambiance was indeed festive and celebratory on 11 February as, a few minutes after the speech of the vice-president, I headed towards Tahrir Square. I did not have any fear walking around the square with my camera and dictaphone for many hours. My Egyptian friends led me through the crowd and told me the “rules of the game” for women. If I wanted to speak to someone I had to first ask, a command that was, of course, almost impossible to comply with. Even so, I managed to speak to several dozen people. Men behaved in a polite and friendly manner, no one wanted to harass or harm me, even in the slightest.

The air became heavy on the avenue leading from Tahrir Square to the 6th of October Bridge, where we had to walk between a military tank and a stage. Men and women gathered there to listen to Shadia’s song, “My love, Egypt”. In the middle of that crowd I suddenly found hands in the intimate parts of my body. When I realised that this was not a one-off incident, but that many people were interested in touching me, I felt vulnerable and became angry.

In an instinctive response, I wanted to smack the molesters, but they disappeared fast. Touching and pulling went on for some minutes when people around me started to notice what was happening.

My Egyptian friends and other friendly Egyptians closed the space around me, and gave precise instructions: while I was pulled forward, they told me to finger point to those people who were molesting me. They looked different from the bright, celebrating faces. After taking me out of the crowd, my new bodyguards turned against the attackers. An awful quarrel started.

Sensibilities are different

While this incident was not agreeable, I did not consider it to be a serious case. Rather, I saw it as a necessarily evil, that one could face in any crowded European football stadium. I was more frightened to learn that Lara Logan, at the same time and same place, reported that she had been beaten, seriously assaulted and raped.

Was I lucky that, even as a suspected “Israeli spy”, I had not been beaten up on 11 February? Or was it my brown hair that protected me, even if it belongs to an obvious foreigner face? Was I saved because I was not reporting to a well-known American channel, but only to the Hungarian media? Or because I was guided through the crowd by my Egyptians friends?

Now that four weeks have passed, I still don’t know anything about my and Logan’s attackers, those people who tarnished the image of young revolutionaries in the Western media. This was obviously not in the interest of those youth who, the next morning, cleaned and painted the entire square. Having no evidence, and busy with new political developments, local agencies are hesitant about how to report the assault on Logan. Rayadab Ouawad, responsible for cultural issues at the AFP news agency, told me that he excludes that someone could have been raped in the middle of that crowd. Other Egyptian journalists I talked to seem to believe that at that place and time there was no opportunity to rape women.

Manal Agrama, managing editor of Radio & TV Magazine, a woman who spent 18 days in the square, did not know anything about the harassment. “Women were respected on the square; revolutionary men were very keen to protect us in the days before the resignation. Even if the NDP (National Democratic Party) harassed foreign journalists in hotels, they did not assault them sexually. On Friday, many people tried to go to the square, and mix with the revolutionaries, that can be the only explanation,” she said.

Ibrahim Kaoud, deputy chief editor of Akhbar El-Yom, can believe that the crime could have been committed, but “it was certainly an exceptional case.”

Recent reports about young Egyptians do reveal escalating social problems together with sexual frustration. But the question is whether, without showing evidence, we can suppose that young revolutionaries wanted to satisfy their sexual frustration at the same time as fighting and dying for freedom?

After three weeks of wondering about this dark episode of the Egyptian revolution, I think that there are many ways to become a victim. We have the option to turn in anger against the whole Egyptian youth. Or — in a perhaps more sophisticated approach — we can disclose the details of our assault, hence assisting the investigation regarding those particular people who committed them. I invite Lara Logan to join me in choosing the second option.

 

The writer is a Hungarian freelance journalist.

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19



Barbara Taylor
25-03-2015 09:02pm
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Yes, Violence Happened. But No Blame for Innocent Egyptians
Are this journalist and all the other journalists who write similar demands that Ms Logan provide the details unaware that she was in the hospital, and would they be immediately able to go in the public eye after such a physically and emotionally traumatic assault? Would her doctors have even allowed it? I agree she should have when she recovered physically and emotionally sufficiently to do so, and it was a little slow coming, but she did when she was ready. It makes no sense that a rape and brutality would be made up, and I don't think she would have been hospitalized for days for no reason. I believe something violent happened that day, but that does not mean that I or the rest of the world blame all young Egyptian men for what a few did. I also remember, even from Logan's testimony, that young Egyptian soldiers saved her.
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18



Passerby
17-03-2013 07:30am
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We will never know but...
Maybe you were just lucky. Some tourists who have tried going through the Republic of the Congo have disappeared, and some have succeeded. I don't think we can find any logical reason for that. Those who have disappeared were there in the wrong place at the wrong time as we can assign it to some rape cases all over the world. If she made up the rape, that would be horrible, because it has led to more sexaul assaults on white women, such as British and Duch, in Tahrir Square. There are so many opportunists in our society, and she just woke their sexual desire up.
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17



caliharleyboy
27-09-2011 08:09pm
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she got escorted to the army
that was it, no one touched her. let me say it again, not one Egyptian touched her. her shirt looked a little uneven, that was it. I was standing around her from the moment the panic broke out. dudes were saying she was an Israeli spy and they should take her to the army. she walked over with her people willingly, no one even laid a hand on her. her story is 100% hasbara, she prob got a raise from her Zionist boss. yes. when i came back to the sates and heard this I just awed. amazing and just to clear one thing up. Egyptian women do get harassed sometimes, not as much as American women in the south do, but white women are NEVER messed with, even in extreme situations, ask an blonde hair blue eyed Israeli's who visit sharm el shiek.
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16



ST
14-09-2011 08:00am
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Agnes, you're an idiot.
Sexual assault and harassment in Egypt is VERY common, for both native Egyptians and foreigners. Why should a raped woman have to come forward with brutal details about her rape from men who were strangers? The Egyptian government didn;t even have the decency to make a public statement condemning the attacks! This constant harassment on the streets is just accepted and its disgusting and exhausting...further the "Shit happens" theme/thesis of your article is even more reprehensible. As a woman and a journalist, you should be ashamed of this piece you wrote. Rape has nothing to do with religion --- it's a violent act committed by people who think they have the power to do it...and as long as governments (Christian, Muslim, Hindu, Jewish, whatever) accept it as a "shit happens" fact of womanhood, it will continue...
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15



john
25-03-2011 10:22pm
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crippled lara
It was the GIS who tracked her down and maimed her. All partipants either informed on her whereabouts or actively or passively participated in Mukhabarat "Justice!" They were humiliated by a woman's narrative of her previous captivity. This is the least of her ordeal. To make nice with the new regime tremendous pressure is being exerted on Mme Logan to take her lumps in silence. I'm sure her patriotism is being invoked. I surely hope that Mme Logan will overcome this last cut from her very own Government. Realpolitik is more than contemptible especially coming from her country. I am a far left, born in 1933, FDR/Norman Thomas Socialist. A such Mme Logan is not exactly my cup of tea but I do have to look in the mirror every morning. Mme Logan you do deserve full military honors not hypocritical concealment.
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14



G. Seim
14-03-2011 08:42pm
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You can't be serious.
The woman was sexually assulted by a mob very recently. Even if she did know who was involved (which you can't seriously expect she knows any more than we do...she was ambushed and attacked very unexpectedly, there is no reason to think that she knows why this happened anymore than we do), it is none of our concern. The public simply does not need to know these details. Logan will undoubtedly work with the proper authorities to seek out her own justice as she is able to, as she continues on the healing process. Putting pressure on her to suck it up and get over her PTSD and perform for us is heartless, ignorant and ugly. To the poster who complained about the lack of video evidence: download your own porn, you disgusting freak. The fact of the matter is, Logan's rape is Logan's business alone. She will decide how she wants to go about recovering from what happened to her. We know everything we need to know: that violating women is a violent crime, that violent, perverted criminals are
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13



EB
14-03-2011 05:26am
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Good Point Syndicate
Government has sat on this. No pics or video of any kind means it has been suppressed. CBS held the story, sent out a vague response and to let Ms. Logan make the call. It may be easier for her to come back limiting the details. They are very concerned with image and want to limit the mental-images that come up when people see her in the future, wanted it to be her call. Hilary got the call and was not happy, the US has significant technology to suppress this, and probably rightly so for Ms. Logan's sake.
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12



W
13-03-2011 06:32am
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A MONTH?
The CBS Chief Foreign Affairs Correspondent and all-around pervasive media presence Lara Logan has now been completely out-of-sight for a month, after spending 4-5 days in a hospital. No rape is possible. But clearly it was something profoundly serious.
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11



Octopius
13-03-2011 12:34am
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Agnes Rajacic on Lara Logan
I fail to comprehend why it is you chose to be obfuscating about how and where you were molested. A phrase such as, “found hands in the intimate parts of my body” doesn’t really explain a great deal. Surely, as a journalist, you are mature enough to make reference to the intimate parts of a woman’s body by name such as breasts, crotch or buttocks without the need to afterwards hibernate for six months in attempt of warding off the shame. Whilst neither is appropriate, there is a vast difference between having anonymous hands fleetingly glance contact with a woman’s breasts or buttocks or glaze momentarily along her crotch, in a thick swirling crowd and on the pretence of a cheap thrill, than it is to be accosted and groped with deliberate intent and physical force by a person or persons standing immobile and confrontationally before you.
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10



kenny victor
12-03-2011 10:00pm
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Lara Logan AttaCK
Something is not right. The only information we have is information released by CBS. Where are the eye witnesses, especially according to other accounts the "group" of men and women who "saved/rescued her" There are many details but one important one is how she got separated from her associates and security guards. She and the attackers seem to be the only people who know what happen and the attackers, if any, are not coming forward. This article was written with utmost care and concern but the author is basically asking the same thing. It will be interesting to see where and when Lara Logan first appears. She has personally on the air described her compulsion to be on the front lines.
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