The Arabist

The Arabist

By Issandr El Amrani and friends.

Another Egyptian journalist roughed up

I've just received the following message via email:

Egyptian journalist Abdou Al Maghrabi, who works for the Sout Al Umma ('Voice of the Nation') broadsheet, faced a violent attack by a police officer in Abd el Moneim Riad square, next to Cairo's main square, Midan Al Tahrir, on Saturday night. The area was tightly guarded as Gamal Mubarak, son of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, was due to pass by the area, and as passage of pedestrians was being checked and double-checked, by the time Al Maghrabi came to pass in front of the police, one officer grabbed him by the neck - unprovoked, and without confirmation of his identity - beat him, and threw him to the ground. All the while, the reporter was repeating the words "I am a journalist!", in the hope that the officer would stop. The officer went on unaltered.

Al Maghrabi went to register a complaint at the nearest police station, and made his way to the hospital.

From Sunday morning onwards, Al Maghrabi has staged a sit-in at the journalists' syndicate. He also organised an unannounced protest during which the lack of safety for all Egyptian citizens, including lawyers and journalists, was denounced. In particular, the protest condemned Gamal Mubarak as potential leader of Egypt - note that the Western press paints him out to be far more lenient and democratic than his father, but factors on the ground do not seem to indicate that this is true. Gamal Mubarak is being 'groomed' for the presidency.

On Monday morning, posters in the press syndicate annoucing Al MAghrabi's sit-in - which included a slogan "defend journalists' dignity" - were torn down. It is as yet unconfirmed whether central security was responsible.

The sit-in is still going on.

This comes quite soon after Abdel Halim Qandil, the editor of Al Arabi, was taken to the desert outside Cairo, stripped and beaten up by unknown assailants who told him to stop writing about powerful people. It sounds like this latest case was not a targeted operation, but is telling of the lack of discipline and brutality of Egyptian police.