Thursday, February 3, 2011

A Dark Day for Journalism

Last night the forces of the uprising managed, valiantly, to hold onto Tahrir Square against the deadly, vicious attacks of Mubarak's thugs. Today, though, numerous news venues are reporting that dozens of journalists, as well as human rights workers and bloggers, have been detained, beaten, carjacked, hunted down, and otherwise intimidated by the Mubarak government. Security personnel in the Hilton hotel have systematically removed photographers' equipment. Mubarak's thugs have dismantled satellite dishes and destroyed equipment at the television studios of non-State Egyptian stations. Perhaps of all, the live feeds from Tahrir Square have ceased. As the New York Times's Nick Kristof tweeted earlier today, "Govt is trying to round up journalists. I worry about what it is they're planning that they don't want us to see."

Here are some links:

Committee to Protect Journalists, Mubarak Intensifies Press Attacks with Assaults, Detentions
The New York Times, Gangs Hunt Journalists and Rights Workers
The Guardian, Egypt Cracks Down on Foreign Journalists
ABC News, List of Journalists Who have Been Threatened, Detained, or Attacked While Reporting in Egypt
Huffington Post, Human Rights Watch Researcher Detained
Huffington Post, Dozens of Journalists Detained, Clash with Pro-Mubarak Forces

The article at the Committee to Protect Journalist site observes:
"This is a dark day for Egypt and a dark day for journalism," said CPJ Executive Director Joel Simon. "The systematic and sustained attacks documented by CPJ leave no doubt that a government-orchestrated effort to target the media and suppress the news is well under way. With this turn of events, Egypt is seeking to create an information vacuum that puts it in the company of the world's worst oppressors, countries such as Burma, Iran and Cuba.

"We hold President Mubarak personally responsible for this unprecedented action," said Simon, "and call on the Egyptian government to reverse course immediately."
Government officials, pro-government journalists, and commentators loyal to Mubarak have for the past two days been engaged in a systematic campaign to present foreigners, and particularly foreign journalists, as spies. CPJ has documented at least seven instances on state-owned television or on private stations owned by businessmen loyal to Mubarak in which individuals described elaborate foreign plots to destabilize Egypt that centered on foreign provocateurs, including journalists. In several instances, they were described as "Israeli spies." In one instance, a woman whose face was obscured "confessed" to having been trained by "Americans and Israelis." She went on to say that the alleged training took place in Qatar, where Al-Jazeera is based.
I'd like to recommend Professor Juan Cole's blog, which has been running a series of posts providing background and analysis as the uprising continues. It is particularly instructive to read his Why Egypt 2011 Is Not Iran 1979, in which he spells out the immense, particular differences between Iran in 1979 and Egypt in 2011.


Josh said...

Dr. Cole's analysis is invaluable, but I get all my news from Aaron Bady at this point. The photos and video he posts really capture the passion and joy of the protests.

Nancy Jane Moore said...

I note that Al-Jazeera is a significant target of the Egyptian attacks on journalists -- apparently Mubarak is more afraid of them than of US and European journalists. It's a shame Al-Jazeera is not more widely available in the US; perhaps we would become better educated about what is going on in the Middle East if it were.

Josh said...

From your mouth to Frank Rich's column, Nancy!