Journalists Attacked, Arrested in Cairo Chaos.
Foreign journalists covering the political tumult in Cairo have been roughed up by unruly mobs and detained by security forces, according to multiple reports Thursday.
The attacks near Tahrir Square, the center of the protests, came from supporters of President Hosni Mubarak, foreign journalists told the Associated Press. Demonstrators backing Mubarak have clashed with anti-government protesters as a peaceful uprising turned violent over the past 48 hours.
The New York Times said security forces and pro-government gangs were even hunting down journalists at their offices and in hotels where many had taken refuge. The Al Jazeera and Al Arabiya television networks said they couldn’t cover the scene at Tahrir Square live because their crews had been harassed on the streets and at vantage above the square where cameras had been set up.
Earlier, the Times said two reporters working for the newspaper were released Thursday after being detained overnight in Cairo. Washington Post Foreign Editor Douglas Jehl said witnesses on the street in Cairo reported that his paper’s bureau chief, Leila Fadel, and photographer Linda Davidson were among two dozen journalists arrested by the Egyptian Interior Ministry.The Greek newspaper Kathimerini said its correspondent was briefly hospitalized after being stabbed in the leg by supporters of Mubarak. A Greek newspaper photographer was also reportedly beaten.
White House spokesman Robert Gibbs, traveling with President Obama in Pennsylvania, told reporters that the actions are “completely and totally unacceptable” and “any journalist that has been detained should be released immediately,” the Times reported.In Washington, State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley condemned the violence. “There is a concerted campaign to intimidate international journalists in Cairo and interfere with their reporting,” Crowley said.
On Wednesday, ABC correspondent Christiane Amanpour had to make a quick getaway when demonstrators yelling that they “hate America” banged on her car and smashed part of its windshield.
Mubarak, who has held power for 30 years, agreed earlier this week not to seek reelection in six months, but the street demonstrations continued as his foes demanded that he step down immediately.