Egypt Erupts

After ousting President Mohammed Morsi, the Egyptian government installed by Gen. Abdel Fattah El Sisi has attempted to influence coverage of turmoil within the country by closing outlets that supported Morsi and accusing foreign journalists of bias and ignoring facts. Many journalists report being targeted. They have been forced to turn over photos and have been detained and attacked. Some have died.

Mick Deane, a veteran cameraman with the British broadcaster Sky News, was killed on the particularly bloody day of August 14 when security forces stormed protests camps in Cairo and hundreds of Morsi supporters died. A Sky News colleague said a sniper shot Deane as he lifted his camera. The Committee to Protect Journalists said Deane was the first Western reporter to die on assignment in Egypt since the group started keeping such records in the early 1990s.

OPC’s Freedom of the Press Committee wrote Sisi the next day:

“The blood on the streets and squares of Egypt have sent shock waves around the world. It is not the role of the Overseas Press Club of America (OPC) to express opprobrium for the politics and policies at the heart of your country’s current roils. However, we are appalled at the deaths of several journalists and persistent reports of the targeting of reporters tasked with gathering information about recent events,” the committee wrote in a letter signed by Howard Chua-Eoan, FOP chairman, and Michael Serrill, OPC president.

“We demand that the Egyptian military and security forces foreswear any new threats to journalists assigned to shed light on the crisis in your county,” the FOP letter went on to say. “Furthermore, we urge you to take specific efforts to protect these reporters and correspondents — regardless of nationality — as they pursue the complicated truths that have emerged during this time of troubles.

“It is critical that journalists be allowed to do their job.  Only with clarity can chaos be dissipated.  Only with a full airing of the plight of the Egyptian people — of all political allegiances — can disaster be averted.”

Chua-Eoan said at the OPC annual meeting that the committee will continue to monitor the situation in Egypt, especially as the new regime develops its visa regulations for journalists.

At least three other journalists died in Cairo August 14: Habiba Ahmed Abd Al-Aziz, a journalist with the Dubai-based weekly Xpress making a personal visit to Egypt, was hit in the head by a shot fired by a sniper; Mosab el-Shami, a photojournalist for Rassd news website, died of gunshot wounds; Ahmed Abdel Gawad, a reporter for the state-run Al Akhbar newspaper, died while covering the crackdown at Rabaah al-Adawiya mosque.

Journalists injured that day included Reuters photographer Asmaa Waguih, who was shot in her foot, and Tarek Abbas, a reporter for the Egyptian newspaper Al-Watan, who had gunshot injuries to an eye and a leg.

Al-Ahram newspaper correspondent Tamer Abdel-Raouf was shot dead on August 19 as he and a colleague passed a police checkpoint in the northern governorate of Beheira.

Two Egyptian journalists died during earlier protests this summer. Salah al-Din Hassan with independent news website Shaab Masr, was killed on June 29 by a homemade bomb thrown into a demonstration in Port Said. On July 8, a sniper killed Ahmed Assem el-Senousy, a photographer for the Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice newspaper, who was covering clashes in Cairo.