Journalists in Egypt attacked amid street violence

At least four local Egyptian journalists were physically attacked during a weekend of street violence that began April 5, 2013, according to news reports. The reports said an international journalist was also briefly detained.

On April 5, 2013, Mohammed Sheikhibrahim, the Egypt correspondent for the international news channel EuroNews, was attacked by a group of conservative Muslims called Salafis who were protesting against improving ties between Egypt and Iran, news reports said. The demonstrators surrounded Iran’s interest section in Cairo and accused the Iranian government of trying to infiltrate the majority-Sunni Egyptian society. Sheikhibrahim told EuroNews that the attack began because the

The following Sunday, April 7, 2013, at least three journalists were attacked when unidentified assailants attended a funeral of Coptic Egyptians killed in sectarian clashes that week. The journalists were covering the funeral, which was held near the Orthodox Cathedral Church in Abbasiya, Cairo.

Bashoy Wasfy, a reporter for the daily Al-Shorouk, was hospitalized after sustaining injuries on his neck and shoulder from a homemade bomb that exploded outside the cathedral. Bashoy told Al-Shorouk that the assailants threw the bomb from the rooftop of a neighboring building.

Unknown assailants shot Mohammed al-Shamy, a photographer for the daily Al-Masry Al-Youm, and Emad al-Gebaly, a photographer for the daily Al-Tahrir, with rubber bullets while the journalists covered the funeral, news reports said. Al-Gebaly told Al-Tahrir that the gunmen climbed the fence of the cathedral to shoot him and his colleagues.

In an unrelated case, an international journalist was arrested on April 8, 2013, and spent a night in jail, news reports said. Rena Netjes, a Dutch journalist based in Egypt, was taken under citizen’s arrest by a café owner who accused her of espionage because she was interviewing a group of youths in his café about unemployment, the reports said. In March 2013, an official from the prosecutor’s office encouraged Egyptian citizens to arrest lawbreakers and bring them to their local police station.

Police interrogated Nejtes about texts messages she received that called for protests against the government. A spokesman of the Dutch embassy in Cairo told CPJ that the Egyptian prosecutor ordered Netjes’s release after asking her to renew her expired Egyptian press credentials.

In another unrelated case, an arrest order was issued on March 27, 2013, for a blogger who was accused of insulting the Ministry of Interior, news reports said. Egypt’s Prosecutor General referred Ahmed Anwar to court after he posted a video on his personal YouTube account in 2012 that mocked the police for honoring artists and belly dancers while neglecting deteriorating security around the country. Anwar has posted several videos critical of Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood on his YouTube channel.

Local human rights groups like the Arab Network for Human Rights Information and the Association for Freedom of Thought and Expression condemned the charges against Anwar, and said it was one example of how the government uses restrictive communication laws to silence critics. The journalist has not yet been taken into custody.