The Arab Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI) released a statement Monday condemning an assault on journalists that were covering clashes between supporters and opponents of Hamdeen Sabahi at the Press Syndicate headquarters on 4 March.
The clashes erupted during a meeting held by the Karama party to elect a new president and supreme body for the party. Supporters of the Popular Current leader and presidential hopeful allegedly attacked and detained journalists who were recording the transpiring clashes.
“The photographers and media professionals shot the clashes between the two sides, and as a result Sabahi’s supporters started to attack them. Moreover, they held Al-Badil cameraman Ahmed Abdel Gawad for half an hour; besides seizing his camera’s memory card that he managed to regain before his departure,” the statement read.
ANHRI said the attack and detainment of journalists “constitute a clear violation of freedom of expression, and obstruction of journalists and media professionals’ assigned job, which is to convey the truth.”
The group added that although Sabahi apologised for his supporters’ actions, “such an incident is still strongly considered as a sort of abuse committed against media professionals by citizens, which is equal to the abuse committed by the authority against them.”
“ANHRI demands to respect press and media freedoms, and to provide an appropriate climate for journalists and media professionals. As well, it calls for not impeding them doing their work of transferring the complete truth,” the statement concludes.
Sabahi supporters have been under threat of abuse as well. In February, four Popular Current supporters were taken into custody for displaying a poster of Sabahi from the rear windshield of their car.
The detained, three members of Sabahi’s party and an imam who were in Cairo for a party meeting, were held from 12 to 6a.m. at the Qasr Al-Nil police station. They were released after questioning.