Islamist protesters besiege TV stars at Egypt media city

Ahram Online , Monday 25 Mar 2013

TV stars and political figures verbally abused and have car windows smashed by protesters angered by perceived media bias at Media Production City in Sixth October City

Protesters at Egypt's Media Production City (Photo: Al-Ahram)

Several media figures were reportedly assaulted by Islamist protesters at the Media Production City (MPC) in Sixth October City on Sunday.

The protesters had gathered earlier in the day to condemn perceived anti-Islamist bias in the Egyptian media.

TV anchor Reham El-Sehly was verbally abused by protesters on her way out of the MPC and the window of her car was partially smashed, Al-Ahram Arabic news website reported.

Hafez Abou Seada, head of the Egyptian Institute for Human Rights, was prevented by protesters from entering the MPC for an interview with TV host Mona El-Shazly.

“The weird thing is that they almost destroyed us. They said this is Abou Seada the human rights guy and tried to drag me out of the car but others told the driver to leave,” Abou Seada said, adding that his car window was smashed.

Mona El-Shazly condemned the “besieging of the MPC” via her daily show, Gomla Mofida, adding that all the MPC's doors had been locked.

“Everyone working here [at the MPC] is besieged except for those who hold IDs of Al-Nas and Al-Hafez [Islamic channels], this is their passport to exist in the media city,” El-Shazly added.

Meanwhile, reports circulated that Mohamed Abou El-Ghar, head of the Egyptian Social Democratic Party, had been assaulted. But Abou El-Ghar refuted the claims in an interview with Al-Ahram.

“Some Sunni [Muslim] youth told my driver they wanted to speak with me for few minutes. I spoke with them for three or four minutes and then I left,” he said, stressing the young men were very decent.

Following the reported assaults, Interior Minister Mohamed Ibrahim went to the MPC after midnight in an attempt to convince the protesters to end their sit-in and allow the besieged staff to leave.

Ibrahim, whose presence was met with chants against the interior ministry, failed to convince the protesters to leave and some insisted they would not leave until their demands of “purging the media” were met.

On Saturday, several Islamist groups began issuing calls for a protest outside the MPC due to what they described as biased coverage of the clashes at the Muslim Brotherhood headquarters in Cairo's Moqattam district on Friday.

Around 200 people were injured in nationwide clashes on Friday between supporters and opponents of the Muslim Brotherhood.

A number of Brotherhood members proposed joining Sunday's planned demonstration at the MPC. The group's leadership distanced itself from the calls but said group members had the right to protest on an individual basis.

In a televised press conference on Saturday, Muslim Brotherhood Secretary-General Mahmoud Hussein said the group had not called for demonstrations despite the decision by some members to join the rally outside the MPC.

Hussein condemned the "bias and inaccuracy of certain media figures who presented the clashes [on Friday] as a war between two sides rather than as one side assaulting the other."

Last December, following an appeal by Salafist former presidential candidate Hazem Salah Abu-Ismail, Islamist supporters of President Mohamed Morsi staged an almost week-long sit-in outside the MPC to demand the "purge" of media elements "who are misleading the public and inciting violence."

Most private Egyptian TV and radio stations air their programmes from Media Production City in Sixth October City, a satellite city on the outskirts of Cairo.

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