Today’s Zaman photographer İsa Şimşek and correspondent Cumali Önal, in addition to the Star daily’s news editor Doğan Ertuğrul, were attacked yesterday by a group of protestors who support Egypt’s current President Hosni Mubarak. The three journalists were beaten after announcing that they were from Turkey, whose Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan recently called on Mubarak to allow democracy in Egypt. Şimşek and Önal did not receive serious injuries, but Ertuğrul sustained a severe head injury, our reporters said.
Şimşek over the phone said he tossed his camera and other photography equipment into an unlocked armored vehicle belonging to a bank and that Egyptian military officials did not allow him to return to where it was parked, saying they could not guarantee his safety. The three journalists were able to make it to the Turkish Embassy in Cairo, where they are safe for now.
Another Turkish reporter was beaten during the protests on Thursday by a pro-Mubarak group who assaulted state-run TRT reporter Metin Turan during ongoing protests in the capital of Cairo.
Mubarak’s supporters managed to seize Turan’s camera, money and cell phone, but the reporter managed to escape and take refuge in the Turkish Embassy in Cairo. Turkish journalists were not the only ones who got their share of the protestors’ anger. In multiple incidents, journalists covering Egypt’s unrest were pummeled, hit with pepper spray, shouted at and threatened by President Hosni Mubarak loyalists as the scene at anti-government demonstrations suddenly turned ugly, the Associated Press reported.
When a CBS camera crew attempted to take pictures of violence between pro- and anti-government crowds, they were marched back to their hotel at gunpoint. The CBS journalists were only allowed to leave without cameras and were watched wherever they went.
Several reporters told similar stories of what the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) described as a series of deliberate attacks. The New York-based CPJ called on the Egyptian military to provide protection for reporters.
Meanwhile, news agencies reported yesterday that the Egyptian military started rounding up journalists in the evening, possibly for their own protection.
Thousands of expats flown back to Turkey
A total of 2,870 people, most of them Turkish citizens, have been flown back to Turkey from Egypt, where civil unrest has been at its peak due to demonstrations against the country’s long-time president, Hosni Mubarak, a statement from the Prime Ministry’s Disaster and Emergency Management Presidency (AFAD) has announced. AFAD President Mehmet Ersoy yesterday released a written statement, saying nine regular flights to Egypt since Jan. 29 have flown back 1,192 people, while eight planes sent by the Prime Ministry solely for the purpose of evacuation brought back 1,678. He said that of the 1,192 who came back on regular flights, about 500 were foreign nationals. İstanbul Today’s Zaman