CAIRO -- The disdain that Egypt’s military rulers have for journalists and bloggers runs deep, at times resulting in arrests and beatings that have threatened freedom of expression since the revolution that last year deposed former President Hosni Mubarak.
The Committee to Protect Journalists says that 18 reporters were assaulted and arrested during last week’s clashes between protesters and soldiers around the Egyptian Defense Ministry in the capital. Two journalists working for the online Al-Badil -- Ahmed Ramadan and Islam Abu al-Ezz -- were reported to have been severely beaten.
"The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces must swiftly and thoroughly investigate” these allegations, said Mohamed Abdel Dayem, the committee's Middle East and North Africa program coordinator. "These reports depict an anything-goes atmosphere in which military authorities act with impunity. The council must send a clear message that it will not tolerate such a climate."
The journalists were arrested with hundreds of activists and protesters when soldiers and armored vehicles broke up a sit-in on Friday. The Paris-based Reporters Without Borders said 32 journalists were attacked during days of clashes, the Associated Press reported.
The Egyptian military has refined its skills at manipulating state media while suggesting that independent reporters and bloggers are enemies of the state often controlled by foreign interests. Such portrayals have turned the public, especially a large population of poor and uneducated, suspicious of journalists. Foreign reporters are often referred to as spies.
-- Jeffrey Fleishman
Photo: An injured Egyptian is taking away during battles between demonstrators and security forces near the the Defense Ministry in Cairo on Friday. Media groups say that at least 18 journalists were injured during last week's clashes. Credit: Khaled Elfiqi / EPA.