Journalists Beaten and Detained, Websites Blocked, Amidst Massive Protests in Egypt

For Immediate Release

Committee to Protect Journalists
Contact: 

Mohamed Abdel Dayem, program coordinator.
Phone: (212) 465-1004, x103;
E-mail: m.abdel.dayem@cpj.org

Journalists Beaten and Detained, Websites Blocked, Amidst Massive Protests in Egypt

NEW YORK - The
Committee to Protect Journalists condemns the violence against
journalists covering demonstrations in Egypt. Plainclothes and uniformed
security personnel have beaten at least 10 journalists between Tuesday
and today and detained others. Egyptian authorities have also shut down
the websites of two popular independent newspapers and a number of
social media sites.

The
protests began on Tuesday after an Internet campaign called for a
national "Day of Anger" through anti-government protests, according to
news reports. The demonstrations are the largest since the January 1977
bread riots.

"We
call on Cairo to bring to an immediate end all forms of violence
against the media, release all detained journalists, and lift online
censorship," said Mohamed Abdel Dayem, CPJ's Middle East and North
Africa program coordinator.

Egyptian authorities have blocked access to at least two websites of local online newspapers: Al-Dustour and El-Badil,
local journalists told CPJ. The government has also blocked domestic
access to social networking sites Twitter and Facebook, as well as
Bambuser, a video-streaming website, according to multiple news reports,
although sources on the ground tell CPJ that access to Facebook is
intermittent. "It is an attempt to black out information and to stop the
use of social media and communication to block those who are demanding
democracy," Gamal Eid, executive director of the Cairo-based Arabic
Network for Human Rights Information, told CPJ.

Local and international journalists have been widely targeted during the demonstrations. At least six journalists working for Al-Masry al-Youm were
assaulted by security forces: Ahmad al-Howari, Mustafa al-Mursafawi,
Nashwa al-Houfi, Hisham Omar Abdel Halim, and Maha al-Bahnasawi, the
independent daily reported. Lina Attalah, the managing editor of Al-Masry al-Youm's
English edition was also attacked. Attalah was covering the
demonstrations in downtown Cairo when police blasted water cannons and
tear gas. "I started running but four policemen pulled me by my hair and
kicked me in my face and back," Attalah told CPJ via phone. "I tried
telling them that I'm a journalist but they were too busy kicking me."
Her glasses were broken and police confiscated two cell phones.

Al-Jazeera
correspondent Mustafa Kafafi was also beaten. "I fell on the street and
I started screaming 'Let me go, I'm a journalist,' but they didn't
care," Kafafi told CPJ today. "Only after they found out that I'm with
Al-Jazeera did they leave me alone." Two journalists, Mohamed Abdel
Qudous and Yahya Qalash, both members of the Egyptian Journalists'
Syndicate, were also attacked and arrested today, according to local news reports.
They were among seven or eight journalists rounded up from the front
steps of the syndicate. Al-Jazeera reported that among them was veteran
journalist Karem Yehya.

Al-Hayat
television reported today that station journalist Ahmad Hassan Kamel
has not been heard from since covering the demonstrations in Cairo
Tuesday night, and believes he has been detained.

Among journalists from international media outlets who have been attacked and beaten was Jack Shenker, the U.K. Guardian's correspondent in Cairo, who was arrested then released on Tuesday, the paper reported.
The Associated Press reported that Egyptian police have detained an AP
cameraman and his assistant-Haridi Hussein Haridi and Haitham
Badry-while they were covering the demonstrations in Cairo today.

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CPJ is a New York-based, independent, nonprofit organization that works to safeguard press freedom worldwide.

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