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Tuesday, 10 December 2019

Satellite channel attacked during Maspero clashes to resume transmission on Thursday

25TV CEO tells how Central Security Forces singled out Christians for beatings during attack on studio and vows channel's editorial policy will not be affected

Nada Hussein Rashwan, Tuesday 18 Oct 2011
Maspero clashes
Egyptian Christians clash with soldiers and riot police during a protest against an attack on a church in southern Egypt, in Cairo (Photo: REuters)
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Private satellite television channel 25TV will resume transmission on Thursday, announced its CEO Mohamed Gohar at a press conference on Tuesday.

The channel had been closed since Sunday 9 October when security forces broke into the channel’s studio during its live transmission of the pro-Coptic protest at Maspero.

“What happened is against human rights and international agreements,” said Gohar.

“As members of the armed forces were destroying the office and harassing the employees of 25TV, the reports coming from our studios were uninterrupted and they maintained the same momentum as events being reported on the streets,” stated a press release.

The press release, written in first person in the name of the CEO, also stated that “Moving on in the future, I do not expect the 25TV team to carry out any vendettas whatsoever, no biased reporting based on last week’s incident.”

Gohar reiterated during the press conference that the channel’s editorial policy will not be affected in any way by the incident. 25TV and Alhurra channels, both located in the same building in the Maspero area, were broken into by central security forces and military police soldiers during the clashes that left at least 26 dead, mostly civilians, and around 300 injured.

Sherine El-Sayyad, the presenter covering the protest live from the channel’s studio, gave her testimony on the moment security forces broke into the studio during live transmission. “There was only one soldier from the military police, but he was in a hysterical state. The rest of the soldiers were from central security, accompanied by one officer. When they broke into the studio, the hysterical soldier was shouting ‘my friends were killed’ and he came to stand in front of me, raising his rifle to my face, but the other soldiers tried to pull him away. I then ran to the sound studio to hide, and when it was over they [the central security officers] actually offered to take me home. I don’t think they were here because of our transmission. They appeared to be looking for someone,” continued El-Sayyad.

Gohar said central security forces asked everyone for their ID. “They were only looking at the religion on the ID cards, and they beat up those who turned out to be Christian. Some of our Christian colleagues showed them Muslim ID cards to avoid the beating.”

“One of our cameramen was kicked in the face by the military police soldier as soon as he found out he was Christian,” said Hossam Haddad, a presenter at the channel and an eyewitness to the incident. Haddad also spoke at the Maspero protest eyewitnesses press conference last Thursday, where he said soldiers had claimed they were looking for “rioters,” whereby he asked, “How is that possible when we’re on the 11th floor?”

The channel has not received any form of contact from the authorities since the incident.

Notably, members of Egyptian state television attended the press conference. State television has been facing fierce criticism over its coverage of the Maspero clashes, during which it was accused of inciting against protesters, claiming they were shooting at army soldiers and issuing unverified news about the deaths.

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