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Wednesday, 14 August 2013

IPI calls for safety of journalists as Egypt roils

At least two media workers killed, more wounded as security forces crack down on Muslim Brotherhood 

Riot police gather during clashes with members of the Muslim Brotherhood and supporters of deposed Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi, around Cairo University and Nahdet Misr Square, where they were camping in Giza, south of Cairo on Aug. 14, 2013. Egyptian security forces killed at least 30 people when they cleared a camp of Cairo protesters who were demanding the reinstatement of Mursi, his Muslim Brotherhood movement said. REUTERS/Mohamed Abd El Ghany

VIENNA, Aug 14 2013 – The International Press Institute today urged Egyptian security forces and supporters of ousted president Mohamed Morsi to refrain from targeting journalists amid reports that at least two media workers were killed and many more wounded during violent clashes between the authorities and the opposition.

Michael Deane, 59, a cameraman for Britain’s Sky News, was shot dead while covering a police crackdown in Cairo, while the Gulf News in the United Arab Emirates reported that Habiba Ahmed Abd Elaziz, 26, a reporter for its sister publication the Xpress, was shot and killed in Cairo, where early news reports said dozens of people were killed in clashes with security forces.

That would bring to a least three the number of journalists killed in Egypt this year.

In Aswan, Mahmoud El-Mola of the independent daily ElMasry ElYoum, was among several journalists wounded and hospitalised after government forces moved in to remove protesters from a government building in the southern city, the Egypt coordinator for the London-based Media Diversity Institute told IPI.

Witnesses told IPI that reporters and photojournalists appeared to be targeted by both sides during the clashes.

“Journalists are neutral parties in conflicts and should not be the target of violence, regardless of who is perpetrating it,” IPI Executive Director Alison Bethel McKenzie said. “We fully support the right of the Muslim Brotherhood and any other political group in Egypt to peacefully express their grievances, but we implore them and the government to refrain from attacking innocent civilians and journalists.”

She added: “The Egyptian government must also be held accountable by the international community for any deaths or attacks that deliberately targeted media workers.”

There were earlier reports that El-Mola had been kidnapped by supporters of Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood. But Doaa Kassem of the Media Diversity Institute, who had spoken with the journalist, said he dropped his mobile phone during the mayhem and a demonstrator who had answered the phone claimed the journalist was being held. El-Mola was among several journalists hospitalised with wounds sustained covering clashes between the police and demonstrators, Kassem told IPI by telephone.

Security forces began clearing the demonstrators’ camps on Wednesday, sparking violent clashes with pro-Morsi supporters who have been at the camps since the ex-president was deposed in a military coup on July 3.

IPI has repeatedly expressed concern about the safety of Egyptian and international journalists since protests began in June - first against the Morsi government and then against the military-backed regime.

In a statement on July 3, IPI called on all sides in the conflict to refrain from targeting journalists covering the political upheaval in Egypt, which came a year after Morsi became the country’s first democratically-elected president.

Salah Eddin Hassan, 37, who worked for the Shaab Misr newspaper, was killed on June 28, when an unidentified person threw a home-made explosive device into a crowd of protesters, a security official and witnesses said.

A number of other journalists were reported wounded and a Dutch television reporter was sexually assaulted while covering demonstrations in Cairo’s Tahrir Square, ground-zero of earlier protests.

 
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