|French photojournalist from SIPA Press agency Alfred Yaghobzadeh is being treated by anti-government protestors after being wounded in Cairo's central Tahrir Square on Wednesday.|
NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Journalists covering the revolution in Egypt are being targeted for assaults, according to multiple media reports. A number of news outlets, including the BBC, Al-Jazeera, ABC News and CNN, have said their journalists and crews in Cairo have been singled out, beaten and arrested. Many of the reports have identified the attackers as being supporters of President Hosni Mubarak, whose 30-year rule in the country has been imperiled by the protests of the past week.
The scene has become increasingly dangerous for reporters as Mubarak partisans clash with anti-government demonstrators in the streets. At least six people were killed and hundreds injured on Thursday morning as tens of thousands of Mubarak protestors and supporters lashed out in the square, throwing rocks and firebombs, and attacking each other with metal bars, according to reports. Al Jazeera and Al Arabiya reported that Mubarak supporters were storming Cairo's hotels, actively seeking journalists on Thursday. An "all-out witch-hunt against news media," Reporters Without Borders called it. "After shutting down the Internet and then reconnecting it at the start of this week, the regime has decided to target media personnel physically by unleashing its supporters in an unprecedented campaign of hatred and violence," Reporters Without Borders Secretary General Jean-François Julliard said in a statement. "This has gone beyond censorship. This is now about ridding Cairo of all journalists working for foreign news media." The Washington Post ( WPO) said its Cairo bureau chief Leila Fadel and photographer Linda Davidson were detained on Thursday morning by the Egyptian Interior Ministry, while The New York Times ( NYT - Get Report) said two of its journalists had been released on Thursday after being detained overnight. CNN talk show host Anderson Cooper and his crew were attacked by Mubarak supporters in Cairo on Wednesday amid the violence and political upheaval. "Got roughed up by thugs in pro-Mubarak crowd ... punched and kicked repeatedly. Had to escape. Safe now,' @andersoncooper tweeted at 10:40 a.m. EST on Wednesday. Time Warner's ( TWX) CNN reportedly urged the journalist to leave Egypt, but Cooper remains in Egypt and continues to update his Twitter feed with information on the clashes. "Situation on ground in Egypt very tense," Cooper tweeted at 12:50 p.m. EST on Thursday. "Vehicle I was in attacked. My window smashed. All OK." At least 11 journalists were attacked on Wednesday while covering events in Cairo, the Committee to Protect Journalists said.
"The systematic and sustained attacks documented by CPJ leave no doubt that a government-orchestrated effort to target the media and suppress the news is well under way," CPJ executive director Joel Simon said. Several journalists working for state-run media told the CPJ that they refuse to work as the government continues to censor their reports. "I refuse to be a hypocrite," Nile TV channel anchor Shahira Amin said. "I feel liberated." As the tensions mount, journalists continue to report on the brutal scenes that are erupting between Mubarak supporters and anti-government protesters. The U.S. government has urged that non-essential personnel leave Egypt as soon as possible and refuses to tolerate the violence towards journalists. "I want to say a word about the systematic targeting of journalists in Egypt," White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said Thursday. "This ... is completely and totally unacceptable. Any journalist that has been detained should be released immediately." U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs P.J. Crowley is calling for all groups in Egypt to show restraint and avoid violence "There is a concerted campaign to intimidate international journalists in #Cairo and interfere with their reporting. We condemn such actions," @PJCrowley tweeted at 9 a.m. EST on Thursday. Journalists are being told to take extra precautions while reporting from Egypt. "We urge all news media to reinforce their coordination in order to provide as much security as possible for their correspondents in Egypt," Reporters Without Borders' Julliard said. "We urge foreign governments and their embassies to provide the utmost diplomatic support for journalists from their countries when they find themselves in difficulty." -- Written by Theresa McCabe in Boston. >To contact the writer of this article, click here: Theresa McCabe. >To follow the writer on Twitter, go to @TheresaMcCabe. >To submit a news tip, send an email to: firstname.lastname@example.org.