More American Journalists Attacked as Egyptian Violence Intensifies
By John Mitchell Posted Feb 3rd 2011 11:08AM
As the violence between protesters supporting Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and those calling for the president's immediate removal from office continues to escalate in Egypt, several well-known journalists have come under attack. CNN's Anderson Cooper was punched in the face repeatedly by a pro-Mubarak mob, and now CBS's Katie Couric and ABC's Christiane Amanpour have also had frightening run-ins with angry protesters.
"They have really taken it out on the press, they're blaming the press, those pro-Mubarak supporters, for all their woes," Amanpour told ABC News' Diane Sawyer. "And they were very menacing, they told us not to go in when we tried to go in this afternoon or take our destiny into our own hands, they warned."
According to The New York Times, foreign journalists and human rights workers on the ground are being detained by Egyptian security forces and intimidated by protesters in an effort to limit reports on the increasing violence. U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs Philip J. Crowley has spoken out on the issue, condemning the attacks on reporters. "There is a concerted campaign to intimidate international journalists in Cairo and interfere with their reporting," he wrote on Twitter. "We condemn such actions."
The Washington Post is reporting that its Cairo Bureau Chief Leila Fadel and a photographer, Linda Davidson, were the among two dozen journalists arrested Thursday morning by the Egyptian Interior Ministry. "We understand that they are safe but in custody and we have made urgent protests to Egyptian authorities in Cairo and Washington," the paper reports. Amnesty International is saying one of its representatives, as well as delegate from Human Rights Watch, was detained by police after the Hisham Mubarak Law Centre in Cairo was taken over by military police.
"You want us to go?" Amanpour asked.
"Yes, I want you to go from here," one protester said. When Amanpour asked why, the man said, "Because we hate you. We hate America ... You are not a good person."
"We left that angry crowd and got into our car, they forced us into our car," Amanpour said. "And as we started to drive off, they hit the car with their fists over and over again and threw a rock through the front window. The glass is shattered all over our driver."
Couric managed to escape a similarly escalating situation before she or her crew were injured. As CBS News cameras rolled, shouting protesters began to surround the clearly unnerved anchor as she walked down a Cairo street.
Yesterday it was reported that Cooper "witnessed a huge crowd of Mubarak supporters surge across a no-man's land dividing them from the anti-Mubarak crowd and overturn a military vehicle on the street as a huge roar went up. A large cloud of smoke arose at the east entrance to Tahrir Square," CNN wrote. "Military vehicles were separating pro- and anti-Mubarak demonstrators, and several gasoline bombs had been tossed."
The anchor and his crew were physically assaulted by pro-Mubarak demonstrators. No major injuries were reported, and the anchor spoke to CNN's 'American Morning' early Wednesday about the attack. "My team were set upon by the crowd," Cooper said via satellite from a Cairo hotel. "There was no rhyme or reason to it -- it was just people looking for a fight, looking to make a point and punching us."
The Egyptian state news agency has asked all foreign press to evacuate hotels near Tahrir Square, the center of the violence in Cairo. Cooper is reportedly holed up in a hotel near the Square and is refusing CNN's request to leave Cairo as the network is unable to guarantee his security in the rapidly deteriorating situation.
Hadeel Al-Shalchi, correspondent for the Associated Press, issued an ominous message on Twitter today to journalists in Egypt, noting that they are targets, after a Greek journalist was stabbed with a screwdriver.
"The Egyptian government is employing a strategy of eliminating witnesses to their actions" in a "series of deliberate attacks on journalists," Mohamed Abdel Dayem of the Committee to Protect Journalists said Wednesday (via NY Times).
Major anti-government protests began in Egypt on Jan. 25 -- the "Day of Anger," also National Police Day -- and have escalated in size and violence since. Millions have turned out to demand President Mubarak and his regime's immediate removal from office amid allegations of abuse of power and corruption within his administration. More recently, however, supporters of the president have turned out to stage counter protests, resulting in extreme violence, with the two sides attacking each other with stones, bottles and Molotov cocktails (a generic name for a fire bomb).
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