CAIRO: Strikes and sit-ins at the Tanta Flax and Oil Company s factory persist and according to blogger and journalist Joseph Mayton, the government is reluctant to allow foreign journalists access to the events unfolding there.
Mayton, a blogger who also works with Al-Masry Al-Youm, reported that on Tuesday he was grabbed, pushed, punched and forcibly removed from the premises by security officers as he tried to cover the strikes.
According to Mayton he presented his foreign press card but state security refused him entry. In an interview, Mayton said that Egyptian journalists have been granted entrance to the factory in recent days.
He believes that state security wants to prevent foreign journalists from covering the case. Mayton attempted to capture footage of the factory, but was followed by several officers who began pulling and grabbing him and his belongings, at one point even punching him.
Mayton said the officers were yelling and screaming you can t go there.
He was then escorted to the head state security chief on site, and he and his American photographer, Jonathan Ward, were instructed to leave.
Then, Mayton says, more state security officers arrived and he was pushed onto a microbus bound for Tanta s train station. Instead of returning to Cairo, Mayton and Ward left the station and went back into Tanta to meet one of the workers at the factory.
According to Mayton, during the interview his contact received a phone call saying that the microbus driver Mayton had paid off at the station had been arrested and that the police were looking for them.
The two journalists headed back to Cairo. Mayton has covered labor strikes in the past and noted that he was not shocked by the actions of state security. However, he said he was surprised by how public the ordeal was. The strikes in Tanta, roughly 90 kilometers north of Cairo, began in May. Workers say they have been denied an annual raise of 7 percent and are demanding better work conditions.
Mayton suspects that his removal from Tanta is a scare tactic to prevent and dissuade foreign journalists from covering sensitive events, but they are not as risky as detaining or arresting journalists.