New York, NY, February 17, 2011 … The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) today said it was deeply troubled by the dozens of violent attacks on journalists covering pro-democracy protests in Egypt and in other countries in North Africa and the Middle East.
Scores of reporters were subjected to violent beatings, detentions, assaults and equipment seizures during the protests in Egypt. Among those attacked was CBS News Chief Foreign Affairs Correspondent Lara Logan, who was the victim of a sustained and brutal sexual assault by a group of thugs who reportedly shouted "Jew! Jew!" amid the celebrations in Cairo's Tahrir Square following the resignation of President Hosni Mubarak.
Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director, issued the following statement:
We are deeply concerned that pro-democracy uprisings in Egypt and elsewhere in the Middle East have led to violence and intimidation against news crews and journalists working the frontlines of the demonstrations. It is also troubling that in at least three of the more violent episodes, including the brutal sexual assault on Lara Logan, the perpetrators accused the journalists of being Jewish, or of spying forIsrael.
Regardless of who was responsible, these assaults serve as a powerful reminder that as Egypt contemplates democratic reforms, freedom of the press is fundamental. In an open democracy different points of view get expressed and reported on, and journalists are not intimidated into silence. Unfortunately for far too long the former Egyptian regime pursued a policy where dissent in the press was stifled, and where the government-sponsored media was allowed to promote anti-Semitism and anti-Israel invective. As we have seen in some of the attacks against news reporters and crews, these attitudes continue to leech out and infect the views of the broader society.
As the reform movement gains traction across the Middle East, ADL continues to actively advocate for and speak out about the need for a focus on press freedom. We will be calling on the new leadership in Cairo to ensure the ability of domestic and foreign journalists to operate freely, and safely, without fear of intimidation.