Egypt Journalists' Syndicate warns police against crackdown on members

Ahram Online , Tuesday 28 Jan 2014

Press organisation issues statement condemning police for assaulting journalists, vows to resist Mubarak-era practices

In this March 19, 2013 file photo, Dozens of Egyptian photojournalists take part in a demonstration to condemn violence against them and to defend their right to cover the news, in front of the Shura Council in Cairo, Egypt, (Photo: AP).

Egypt's Journalists' Syndicate has issued a strong-worded statement against the interior ministry after receiving complaints by reporters who were attacked by police while covering Saturday's protests in Cairo.

The statement said 19 journalists were arrested while covering the third anniversary of the 25 January 2011 revolution. Other journalists – Egyptian and foreign – were assaulted while on duty and even shot at by security forces.

Journalists were targeted with live bullets, the statement said, resulting in the severe injury of Mohamed Fawzy, a photographer for the Al-Wafd daily paper, who remains in hospital in critical condition.

"Security forces are still repressing journalists," the statement continued, in an "unprecedented manner" that is marked by a desperation to "silence their voices and stand in the way of their right to obtain information and access locations where events unfold."

Many journalists were either arrested or assaulted on Saturday irrespective of which newspaper or broadcaster they belonged to. Another photographer for online news website Al-Badil was also shot by security forces in downtown Cairo while reporting on the protests.

The syndicate warned the interior minister and senior police officials of the dangers of giving their officers and personnel a free rein against journalists, and vowed to take the necessary legal procedures against anyone involved in inciting against or assaulting journalists.

The statement insisted that attacks against journalists from political groups must also be stopped, and warned the interior minister of inciting citizens against journalists through "lies" claiming they belong to unpopular news outlets.

The syndicate also vowed to expose repressive practices that would "bring [Egypt] back to the era of ousted president Hosni Mubarak or deposed president Mohamed Morsi."

Concluding the statement, the syndicate said it "will not hesitate to come after anyone who dares to target journalists or detain them or prevent them from practicing their job or assaulting them, whether the perpetrator of such acts comes from the police or any political current."

Saturday's events across Cairo saw journalists also being attacked by civilian demonstrators in support of Morsi or army chief Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi, who removed Morsi from power on 3 July after mass protests against his rule.

Rights groups documented 36 violations on Saturday, ranging from journalists being banned, assaulted and arrested, as well as having their equipment seized.


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