An Egyptian Reporter's Account of Abuse & Sexual Assault at the Protests
Before she could even begin to see the crowds, snap pictures, make notes, or talk to protestors, Egyptian reporter Abeer Al-Askary (also Abir al-Askari) was attacked by plain clothes policemen as soon as she stepped out of a taxi cab on Thursday. The men dragged her to a minibus close by, put her inside, and proceeded to beat her and hurl insults and threats at her.
She tried to yell and scream and attract people walking by as she was removed from the bus and into the station, but anytime someone tried to approach the men and defend her, the plainclothes policemen told them to leave her alone because she was "this and that" and did "this and that" (in other words, they made it seem that they were arresting an adulteress so that nobody would come near them).
An officer then came to take the reporter to a nearby police station, where she was taken to a filthy room and the beating continued.
The police officers kicked her, beat her, spit on her, ripped off her clothes and her hijab (headscarf), and threatened to rape her adding that they had done the same to her journalist friends who were now in jail. They told her she would not see the light of day again. When her cell phone rang, they grabbed it and turned it off. She told them, "now my friends will know that I've been arrested."
At this point the officers decided it would be better to release her somewhere further from the center of Cairo. They allowed her to put whatever was left of her clothes, and wrap whatever was left of her scarf back on her head, and dragged her away and left her on the street. She found a small convenience store and sought the help of the owner who gave her a prayer rug so she could cover herself as he saw her clothes were torn. The men then came back and threatened the store owner, so the latter was forced to ask her to leave.
She walked further and hid behind an electric post, crying on the street, and waiting for her friends from the newspaper to come rescue her.
This account is a brief summary and translation of the sources I found on this story, most of which are in Arabic (Kifaya website, Elaph, Alquds Alarabi, Reuters).
The only English information I found on this is a news alert from the Committee to Protect Journalists and a mention from the Daily Star in an article about the protests.
If this is what the individuals who are responsible for maintaining law and order are doing, then why should any Egyptian feel safe in their own home, not to mention on the street?!
This is not an isolated incident. The attacks on journalists by the Mubarak regime are consistent, systematic, and deliberate.
Rest assured, however, that the actions of these thugs and their leaders cannot be hidden forever. We do not live in the stone age. A simple click of a camera, or a personal account on a blog is enough to get the word out.
Now that the word is out, what will we do?!
[hat tip: Baheyya]
[picture courtesy of SM]
[technorati tags: Egypt, politics, police state, violence, press freedom, media]