Reporters Without Borders unreservedly condemns today’s shocking attacks on BBC, Al Jazeera, CNN, Al-Arabiya and ABC News journalists by Mubarak supporters who were reportedly accompanied by plainclothes police. The attacks took place during clashes in central Cairo’s Tahrir Square between supporters of the president and demonstrators calling for his resignation.
“The use of violence against media personnel is especially shocking,” Reporters Without Borders secretary-general Jean-François Julliard said. “Several were directly targeted by the president’s supporters and infiltrated policemen. Several were beaten and their equipment was stolen.
“We remind all parties that journalists are external observers who under no circumstances should be identified with one side or the other. These attacks seem to have been acts of revenge against the international media for relaying the protests calling for President Mubarak’s resigning. They are also designed to silence journalists and gag news media.
“We urge the international community to react strongly to these excesses,” Julliard added. “And we remind the Egyptian government that it has a duty to apply the law and to urgently restore security for everyone, including media personnel.”
Because of the confusion surrounding today’s protests, it is still hard to obtain precise details about the violence against the media. Initial reports indicate that Anderson Cooper of CNN, Jerome Boehm of the BBC and Lara Setrakian of Bloomberg were among those who were attacked by Mubarak supporters.
Several of the journalists who described today’s incidents asked not to be identified for fear of reprisals. “As soon as they see a camera, they hurl themselves at it,” said a journalist who had stones thrown at him during the protests. Another said he was kicked and his camera was ripped from his hands.