“My job is to see what happens and to tell society what has happened,” said May Elshamy speaking to Daily News Egypt. Elshamy is the latest journalist in Egypt to sustain injuries at a march or demonstration. She was set upon by supporters of ousted President Mohamed Morsi last Friday while recording the march for Youm7’s Video7.
The pro-Morsi Anti-Coup Alliance began a week of marches last Friday under the banner “Massacre of the Century” to commemorate 100 days since the clearing of the Rabaa Al-Adaweya and Al-Nahda Square sit-ins.
One of the marches reached Lebanon Square in Mohandessin and the demonstrators began to block the road, according to Elshamy. “Some of the demonstrators blocked me and told me to stop filming,” said Elshamy.
She refused, insisting it was her right as a journalist to document the march, but the situation changed after she refused to stop filming. “Some began hitting me and they called me a liar and accused her of being a paid infiltrator,” she said. In the melee Elshamy’s camera was taken from her and her arm was broken.
After the crowd dispersed Elshamy was determined to recover her camera and one man told her that he would bring it to her, however she did not see it again.
Elshamy’s story is not an unfamiliar one in Egypt. Many rights groups such as Reporters Without Borders (RWB) and the International Federation for Human Rights have pointed out over the last few months the environment for working as a journalist in Egypt has become increasingly hostile. According to the Arab Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI) said on Sunday it had collated a total of “37 violations committed by the Muslim Brotherhood… between 26 June and 26 August.” The group also documented 51 violations committed by the authorities, 17 by unknown perpetrators and 7 by opponents of the deposed president.
ANHRI’s statement said that these figures indicate that “violence against journalists and violations of freedom of expression is not only done by the state but also by different sectors of Egyptian society.” The group pointed out that the violence at protests and the contention between political actors have created an unsafe environment for journalists to work in and this violence presents a “threat to the future of media freedoms in the country.”
The issue of freedom of the media and the press has been a continuous issue both before and after Morsi’s ouster. In December 2012 Egypt’s media held a strike to oppose the lack of freedoms allowed for in the now suspended constitution. In March this year there were attacks on at least 20 journalists according to the Association of Freedom of Thought and Expression. In September RWB reported that within two months of Morsi’s ouster five journalists had been killed and more than 80 were arrested.
Following her experience, ElShamy is defiant. “I am a still a journalist,” she said. “I will never stop my work, and the most important thing is to tell the truth.”