May 12, 2006

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?!

Related post

[hat tip: Baheyya]
[picture courtesy of SM]
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At 3:22 PM, Blogger Natalia said...

This is so, so disgusting. And it's not the first time this has happened. Women perceived to be "dangerous" by these guys have been known to be attacked, sexually assaulted, and abused.

How do these people live with themselves?

At 4:34 PM, Blogger moi said...

Natalia --yes it is disgusting and unfortunate to say the least. They attacked men, women, and the elderly... Nobody was immune to this abuse.

At 5:09 PM, Anonymous Batir Wardam said...

It is disgusting to see how a free, civilised and national opposition movement is being treated. All arab regime say they are against terrorism and in favor of peacful and responsible opposition, and then go to violate the basic human rights. This is so shameful.

At 8:08 PM, Blogger moi said...

Batir --The Arab regimes can talk the talk but they definitely can't walk the walk.
Thanks for your input :)

At 3:15 AM, Anonymous wedad said...

I cant comment on this issue, but i can say in a loud voice OH MY GOD !!!!
so sad....

At 4:36 PM, Anonymous Maryam said...

Yeah, it is very sad. My brother moved to Egypt for 6 months and once was walking by the Nile and reading Quran and a secret service agent came up and threatended. He left him alone once he knew he was American though.

At 10:18 PM, Blogger moi said...

wedad -- sad indeed. Thanks for stopping by :)

maryam -- like I said before, nobody is immune to this kind of abuse and intimidation. Thanks for sharing that story.

At 7:21 PM, Blogger moi said...

FYI, the last anonymous comment was deleted because personal attacks are not tolerated on this blog. Thanks.


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