New York, February 6, 2012–The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns official attacks on journalists covering political unrest in Egypt this weekend. At least two journalists were shot by security forces in the past three days, and a third journalist was assaulted in police custody, according to news reports.
“Egyptian authorities have an obligation to enforce the law and should demonstrate that attacks on journalists will not go unpunished,” said Mohamed Abdel Dayem, CPJ’s Middle East and North Africa program coordinator. “These attacks show how tenuous the situation is for journalists in Egypt. Authorities must ensure journalists are able to carry out their work unharmed.”
Mahmoud al-Ghazali, a correspondent for the state-owned Nile TV, was shot with pellets early on Saturday morning as he reported on clashes between protesters and security forces in downtown Cairo, the journalist said in an interview. A pellet, fired by a member of Egypt’s Central Security Forces, entered the journalist’s eye, causing extensive eye injuries, according to news reports. Al-Ghazali remains in the hospital, news reports said.
Online journalist Salma Said was shot around 1 a.m. on Monday by security forces while she filmed clashes in Bab Al-Louq neighborhood in central Cairo, news reports said. In an interview with the daily Al-Wafd, Said said three pellets hit her in the face, along with dozens more in her legs and stomach. The journalist is recovering in a hospital, news reports said. Several images of her injuries have been circulated over the Internet, particularly on the social networking site Twitter.
Said writes a blog and works for Mosireen, a nonprofit collective of citizen journalists who shoot footage of clashes between protesters and security forces. Mosireen’s footage is frequently used by mainstream news outlets, CPJ research shows. Said was filming the clashes for Mosireen when she was shot, Omar Robert Hamilton, a founding member of Mosireen, told CPJ.
A journalist was also detained for a short time today, according to news reports. Mohamed Rabee, a correspondent for the online independent daily Al-Badil, was forcibly detained in downtown Cairo by men in plainclothes as he dictated a news story to his colleague over his mobile phone, his editor, Khaled al-Balshi, told CPJ. Rabee was released one hour later, after being beaten by police officers and verbally abused by a government official, the editor told CPJ.
Clashes in downtown Cairo and the city of Suez between security forces and protesters calling for an immediate end to military rule have left more than a dozen dead and thousands injured, news reports said. CPJ continues to investigate at least 10 cases of journalists who were shot at or otherwise attacked in the past few days.
This latest round of attacks comes on the heels of intense clashes in December and November between protesters and security forces in Cairo and Alexandria. CPJ documented 50 cases of journalists who were shot at, sexually assaulted, beaten, or detained over the two-month period.