Egypt's journalists protest Mubarak's verdict, police treatment

Ahram Online , Tuesday 2 Dec 2014

Open stand by press syndicate to denounce acquittal of Hosni Mubarak, interior minister's heavy-handedness with journalists

Journalists protest outside the syndicate against Mubarak acquittal verdict on 2 December, 2014 (Photo: Mai Shaheen)

Tens of journalists organised a stand on Tuesday in front of downtown Cairo's Journalists Syndicate, criticising the acquittal of ousted president Hosni Mubarak and how police handled journalists who covered the resulting protests.

The stand, called for by the Front for the Protection of Journalists and Freedoms, commemorates the start of a week of journalists' protests against police attacks on journalists.

Journalists chanted slogans against Mubarak's verdict, which dropped charges of corruption and murdering protesters in the 2011 revolt that ended his 30-year rule. A handful of pro-government supporters verbally attacked the journalists and chanted pro-government slogans, but the event finished without clashes.

At least six journalists were arrested while covering protests held by Islamists on Friday to call for Islamic sharia law and separate protests on Saturday 29 to condemn Mubarak's acquittal earlier in the day.

The detained journalists were later released.

Al-Masry Al-Youm photojournalist Mohamed Kamal sustained an eye injury during his arrest, said the newspaper where he works.

Following the stand, the Front released a second statement on their Facebook page, saying they have detected a recent increase in security forces' assaults against journalists.

"[It] shows a tendency to undermine journalistic freedom and stop information from reaching millions of Egyptians," the statement said.

"The Front emphasises that the brutal treatment in [Tahrir] Square is a direct attack on freedom of opinion, and a restriction on the people's right to know what's happening on the ground," it continued.

The Front's statement added that by targeting journalists, the interior minister and his aides have made themselves top enemies of journalists and freedom of speech.

The Front said it will file legal complaints against those who attack journalists, asking all journalists to unite against the interior minister and his repressive policies.

Interior minister Mohamed Ibrahim has held office since he was appointed by ousted president Mohamed Morsi in January 2013.

In Reporters Without Borders' 2014 press freedom index, Egypt was ranked 159th out of 180 countries, while Egyptian NGOs say that more than eight journalists are currently imprisoned on the grounds of circulating false news or protesting and sabotaging public property.

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