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Journalists’ Syndicate threatens to suspend publishing to protest violence

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CAIRO: The Journalists’ Syndicate threatened to suspend publishing newspapers in response to increasing attacks on journalists covering the ongoing clashes between police and protesters.

"If these brutal and deliberate attacks increase, we will agree with editors-in-chief of newspapers to suspend [publishing]” and make a collective statement, Gamal Fahmy, member of the syndicate’s board, told DNE.

Yehia Qallash, member of the syndicate’s General Assembly, said this measure was used more than once during Mubarak’s reign.

"It is the strongest way to deliver a message but it is a weapon that should be used as a last resort," he added.

Fahmy said the syndicate will use all peaceful means to defend the rights of journalists and hold accountable all those responsible for attacking them while on duty.

The syndicate’s board along with journalists and human rights activists organized a march Tuesday to the General Prosecutor’s office and submitted a complaint on behalf of injured and arrested journalists against the resigned prime minister and interior minister as well as the security chiefs of Cairo and Alexandria.

The complaint accused them of ordering organized and deliberate assaults on journalists and photographers while covering ongoing clashes.

"We filed a complaint to the General Prosecutor who then assigned the Attorney General to investigate the attacks on journalists," Qallash, who participated in the march, said.

Fahmy said the syndicate is committed to defending all journalists, whether they are members of the syndicate or not.

"The complaint is on behalf of a large number of journalists who are not members of the syndicate," he said.

The syndicate’s board called upon journalists to join them on Nov. 23 for a second protest outside its headquarters, under the slogan "Safety of Journalists is a red line," to coincide with the international day to track the killers and abusers of journalists.

Qallash, who also works for state-run daily Al-Gomhuria, said the crackdown on journalists was systematic.

Fahmy said that the photographers were obvious to officers who attacked them and reporters showed them press cards, which only led to more assaults.

"This means that police forces were targeting journalists … to intimidate them and prevent them from delivering the truth to the public," Qallash told DNE.

Fahmy gave an example of what he described as vicious assaults on journalists, saying that officers in Alexandria arrested six reporters. After beating them in the street, they forced one of them to take off his clothes and stand naked for five hours, he added.

"They even forced him to describe himself with nasty and shameless names and prevented him from taking his cancer medicine." Fahmy stressed that these abuses took place after the journalists showed officers their press cards.

According to Qallash, 13 journalist and photojournalists were attacked in Cairo and six in Alexandria.

According to state-run Al-Ahram newspaper, the names of the injured journalists are Rasha Azab, who is also a member at the No For Military Trials for Civilians campaign; Ahmed Abdel-Fattah, photojournalist at Al-Masry Al-Youm; Mohamed Kamal, Said Ebied, Amr Zohiery, Abanob Emad, Tarek Wagih, Mahmoud Al-Hefnawy, Moataz Zaki and Amr Gamal from Cairo.

"Injured journalists at Alexandria are Mohamed Fouad, Essam Amer, Ramy Mohamed Shaker and Ahmed Ramadan," wrote Al-Ahram.

The syndicate announced that it will form a committee of the syndicate’s board to follow up with journalists in all governorates during the coverage of current events and upcoming parliamentary elections.



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