Egypt journalists protest detention of colleagues during Abbasiya clashes

Ahram Online, Wednesday 9 May 2012

At protest outside press syndicate, Egyptian reporters demand release of detained fellow journalists, military apology 'to all media professionals harmed while performing their duties'

Journalists Syndicate
Egyptian journalists gag their mouths with tape during a protest in front of the Journalists Syndicate in Cairo (Photo: AP)

According to the Muslim Brotherhood's English-language website, Mohamed Abdel-Qudous, leading member of the Egyptian Journalists Syndicate, declared that the syndicate was "leaning towards" calling on members to refrain from reporting news related to Egypt's ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) pending the release of all journalists detained in last weekend's Abbassiya clashes.

The syndicate is also demanding "a clear apology from the SCAF to all media professionals who have been harmed while performing their duties."

Abdel-Qudous' statements came after six employees of the Misr 25 television channel were detained by the military and 20 journalists from Egyptian newspapers – including Al-Badeel, Al-Watan, Al-Masry Al-Youm and Al-Tahrir – were assaulted on Saturday while covering violent clashes in Abbasiya. Some of the detained journalists were released by authorities earlier this week.

On Wednesday, dozens of Misr 25 employees organised a demonstration outside syndicate headquarters to protest recent alleged violations against their news crews. Several shaved their heads to express solidarity with their detained colleagues.

Demonstrators declared that the dignity of their fellow newsmen must be safeguarded, stressing that SCAF heavy-handedness would not be enough to frighten them off of covering ongoing political events.

Misr 25 Manager Hazem Ghorab kicked off the protest by demanding an apology from the SCAF. "We will not accept these journalists' detention without charge," he said. "Is doing one's duty – by holding a microphone and a camera – a crime?" he asked. "And if it is, what law is it based on?"

Syndicate Deputy Abeer El-Saadi, who participated in Wednesday's protest, stated that the syndicate had drawn up a legal committee to defend the roughly 30 journalists allegedly mistreated in the Abbassiya clashes. El-Saadi went on to declare that the syndicate "would not rely on Egypt's public prosecutor, who has repeatedly let down journalists from last year's revolution to this weekend's violence in Abbasiya."

"Freedom for the media," protesters chanted. "We insist on reporting the truth." Others cried, "Down, down with military rule."

Former syndicate chief Salah Abdel-Maqsoud and Adel El-Ansary, editor-in-chief of the Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice newspaper, also attended Wednesday's protest.

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