Egyptian and British activists rise in support of Egyptian journalists
By Daily Star Egypt staff
CAIRO: After organizing worldwide protests for the judges’ cause, Egyptians residing in London, with the help of British activists, rose in support of two female Egyptian journalists who were assaulted by police in Egypt.
Around 30 protestors from organizations including the National Union of Journalists (NUJ), the London-based Stop the War Coalition, Global Resistance, the Cairo Conference group, Media Workers Against War, the recently launched Committee in Support of the Egyptian Judges and the Broadcasting Entertainment Cinematograph and Theater Union, all staged a protest in central London in front of the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) building. The protest also attracted Arab journalists and journalists working for the BBC Arabic service.
The protest was raised in solidarity with two journalists, Dina Samak and Dina Gamil, who had been covering a downtown protest in support of two prosecuted judges and against the detainment of pro-reform activists. On their way home from the protest, their car was attacked by plainclothes security police. The car’s windshield and a side window were smashed. Reportedly, the two journalists were then dragged out of the car onto the ground. Samak, who is six months pregnant, was injured and bruised as a result. Two activists accompanying the journalists were also dragged, blindfolded and carried away to a nearby police station, where they claim to have suffered torture and sexual harassment.
According to the journalists, police at a nearby station rejected a complaint they had attempted to file.
According to protest organizer Ahmad Zahran, the assaulted journalists are members of NUJ in the United Kingdom, “so the demonstration is not simply a stand in support of fellow journalists, but it is in fact a stand against an attack on the NUJ itself. One of the journalists is also a BBC correspondent.
“We want to have our voices heard and to publicize the abuses and attacks on journalists, and of course to condemn them, Arwa Assem, journalist and protest organizer, tells The Daily Star Egypt. “The main aim was to make it clear that it is not acceptable to attack journalists who are just doing their job.
During the protest, several activists gave speeches and chanted slogans in support of the journalists. British activist Chris Nineham criticized the support the United States government “is giving to dictatorships even though the country says it supports democracy. Some of the speeches highlighted “the brutality with which the Egyptian police have dealt with the recent peaceful demonstrations.
NUJ also filed a report condemning the attacks and saying that they are alarmed by the increasing attacks against journalists. “This is not the first time that a BBC correspondent in Egypt has been attacked, read the report, adding that another BBC reporter, Mohamed Taha, was attacked while covering parliamentary elections and that Samak s husband, also a journalist, was arrested around a month ago and is still being held without charge.
“A number of journalists are still in detention after being arrested while covering or taking part in the demonstrations in solidarity with reformist judges, said the report.
NUJ also said that their protest was an expression of solidarity with and support for Egyptian journalists. However, they also called on Egyptian authorities “to show respect for human rights, for freedom of press and freedom of speech.
“Journalists are being increasingly targeted in Egypt by plainclothes and uniformed police, because of the very fact that they are journalists, regardless of their political orientation.