New York, February 8, 2012–Journalists covering political unrest in the Egyptian port city of Suez have been subjected to at least 10 attacks over a four-day period, according to news reports. One journalist was chased, fired upon, and threatened in four separate incidents, CPJ research shows.
Clashes between protesters and security forces intensified over the weekend after more than 70 people died in the neighboring city of Port Said, according to news reports. On Tuesday, the Egyptian Ministry of Health announced that at least 15 people had died since the weekend, news reports said.
“The authorities in Suez are standing aside while thugs are attacking journalists trying to cover political unrest,” said Mohamed Abdel Dayem, CPJ’s Middle East and North Africa program coordinator. “Authorities have a duty to prevent this violence, to investigate all reported attacks, and to bring the perpetrators to justice. They need to start doing their jobs now.”
Three attacks on journalists took place on Saturday. Sayed Shakir, a photographer for the independent daily Al-Masry al-Youm, was filming protests in Suez when he was chased by unidentified men who broke his camera, news reports said. Hossam Saleh, a reporter for the government-owned daily Al-Akhbar, was also filming when he was assaulted by unknown men who seized his camera, news reports said. Journalists from the Egyptian broadcaster CBC, who were filming from the top of a tower, were attacked by men in plainclothes who destroyed their cameras, news reports said.
On Sunday, Ahmed Khair, a reporter for the online news website Al-Bawaba, was beaten by unidentified men in Suez, news reports said. The men stabbed the journalist in the right hand and smashed his camera, according to news reports.
Three more journalists were attacked on Sunday. Mohamed Kamel, a reporter for the privately owned broadcaster ONTV, and his cameraman, Mohamed al-Said, were beaten by unknown men who seized their equipment and personal belongings, according to news reports. Karim Anwar, a reporter for the online radio station Horytna, was fired upon by unidentified gunmen in a car, news reports said. When the journalist tried to report the incident at the security directorate, he was turned away, news reports said.
Also on Sunday, Sayed Abdelah, who writes for several online publications including the independent Al-Badil and news websites Masr al-Gadida and Hoqook, was filming clashes next to the security directorate when he was chased by unidentified men with knives who broke his camera, the journalist told CPJ. Later that day, the journalist was shot at by four men in a white pickup truck on the street, he said. Abdelah then received a phone call from the Suez head of security who told him that if he stopped filming in the area and did not publish news of his attack, he would be sent bodyguards for protection, the journalist said. The next day, Abdelah received a death threat via a Facebook personal message from an anonymous sender with the alias “Suez,” the journalist told CPJ. The message said that he would be killed if he didn’t stop reporting incidents that painted the Suez security forces in a negative light, he said.
CPJ has documented assaults on two journalists and the detention of another in Cairo during the same period as the Suez attacks. The violations over the past week follow a series of intense clashes in December and November between protesters and security forces in Egypt, during which CPJ documented 50 anti-press attacks.