Columnist for opposition weekly is beaten, threatened

New York, November 4, 2004—The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns Tuesday’s vicious attack on Abdel Halim Kandil, an editor and columnist at the opposition weekly Al-Arabi.

The attack occurred just before dawn on November 2, after Kandil’s colleagues dropped him off near his home in Cairo, according to local sources and press reports. Before entering his apartment building, Kandil was confronted by four men who beat, blindfolded and forced him into a car, sources told CPJ.

The attackers, armed with knives, confiscated his mobile telephone and his glasses before dumping him in the middle of a desert road, stripped to his underwear, with a warning to stop writing about “important people,” the sources said. The Associated Press reported that the attackers threatened to kill Kandil.

“We condemn this outrageous attack, which sends a chilling message to Egyptian journalists,” said CPJ’s Executive Director Ann Cooper. “Authorities must pursue a credible, independent investigation into this attack and make their findings public. The perpetrators must be brought to justice.”

Local journalists described Kandil as a bold critic of President Hosni Mubarak’s regime, in print and in appearances on Arab satellite channels. Al-Arabi has published several critical columns about the political future of Mubarak’s son, Gamal, who many believe is being groomed as the next president. Kandil’s last column, published a few days before the attack, criticized the Ministry of Interior’s handling of the October 7 terrorist attacks in the Sinai, which claimed the lives of 34 people, mostly Israeli tourists.