Today was not a good day in Egypt for either the current regime and its credibility or for journalists who seek to tell the story of what is happening.
Based on coverage online and traditional media such as Al Jazeera, CNN, BBC, ABC, And CNN-IBN it is fairly safe to say that the regime has decided that attacking journalists and trying to cut off media coverage of what has been happening is the best way to achieve their objectives. Journalists, like me, are being detained, beaten up and generally stopped from doing our job. The police are searching for us and attempting to intimidate us into being silent. Just to make sure it works they are also closing down bureaus and confiscating cameras and equipment as they did with the BBC today. Al Arabiya had its staff brutalized and bloodied. Anderson Cooper had his head punched yesterday and today (according to his Twitter feed) had his car windows smashed in. This evening he had to do his program from a sealed off hotel room.
Al Jazeera, the hero of this revolution,which has been banned from Egypt, and told its bureau had to close down, had four of its journalists held today. If this is what Mubarak wants to show the world – then he has achieved a perfect picture of what life under Mubarak means. In their usual ‘screw you’ manner Al Jazeera has continued their coverage and will, no doubt, be back live in Cairo tomorrow.
There is no more live footage of what is happening in central Cairo because Mubarak and his goons have made it so. Remember Tiananmen Square where the man stood in front of the tank and stopped – the next step was to remove the media and then exact carnage on protesters. Even when when we are disliked the media keeps governments honest. That is what we do at best. In most democracies we don’t have to fear for our lives but Egypt, just in case anyone didn’t know it, is NOT a democracy.
Perhaps the most telling thing today was that Nile TV reporter, Shahira Amin, who has been with the station since 1989 decided that enough was enough and chucked her job and joined her people in the square. I hope she is safe.
Those of us who demand human rights in other areas are familiar with the fact that we have to deal with being targeted by governments. Mubarak may well end up destroying protests but he will be be doomed regardless. The world has seen his evil and brutality. The world and the people of Egypt have seen his methods and have seen how desperate he is not to see those methods exposed to the light of day.
When you target journalists and shut down the internet you show only that you operate best in darkness. Most things don’t survive in darkness- and they shouldn’t.
To my colleagues in the mainstream media forced to risk their lives to cover the story – I salute you – I only wish I were there to tell the story with you.
( Thanks to Eric in NC for checking my post written in a state of extreme anger)