Friday, November 25, 2011

French journalist brutally molested in Tahrir Square

Nidra Poller

State-owned France 3 TV channel’s evening newscast had a longish item about revolt in Egypt (beginning at the 7:09 mark), focused this time on juvenile demonstrators. With the typical gushing enthusiasm displayed by the media since they started marketing the Arab Springtime, the blond female journalist sang the praises of these minors who were palming rocks and shooting somber shabab glances at the camera. A man identified as a 33 year-old tour guide who had quit his job [sic] and was now living and protesting full time in Tahrir Square was their spokesman… perhaps their handler. “They are so courageous,” he boasted, “if they get cut on the forehead they’ll go and get it bandaged and come right back and fight.” The report went on aimlessly. There isn’t really much to be said about all this hair trigger rage multiplied by the hundreds of thousands. And reporters just keep saying whatever comes to mind, or whatever everyone is saying. An aerial camera pans over the multitude from a safe distance. And you wonder how anyone can claim to know who these people are and what they want. Isn’t that the difference between democracy and a mob?

Occasionally a journalist, most often female, delves into the mob, finds her angle, and works it to the bone. Her cameraman swiftly averts his lens when it comes upon a gaggle of veiled women or bearded men. The journalist scoops up three or four or a dozen of some kind of people and lets them speak for the multitude.

This evening it was the kids. As the French reporter, Caroline Sinz, was winding down, I noticed a contingent of boys and men closing in on her from behind. It seemed that one young man in a black tee shirt was holding them back. Was he a body guard? A good Samaritan? Or a sleazy dude ready to close in?

Back in the studio the newscaster mentioned almost casually that Caroline Sinz and her cameraman were attacked by the kids they had just filmed. A bit later the newscaster on the sister channel France 2 laconically mentioned that two France 3 journalists were attacked in Cairo.

Here’s what actually happened, as reported in le Figaro newspaper:

Caroline Sinz declares that she and her cameraman Salah Agrabi were filming on Mohamed Mahmoud Street--that goes from Tahrir Square to the Interior Ministry--when they were assaulted by teenage boys. They molested her, and dragged both of them to Tahrir Square where they were separated. “We were attacked by a crowd of men. I was beaten by a mob of boys and men who tore off my clothes and molested me… it can be defined as rape.”

A few people tried in vain to help her. “I was lynched. It lasted about forty-five minutes. I thought I was going to die.” The cameraman was also beaten. Finally some Egyptians in the Square were able to rescue them. Sinz returned to her hotel where she was given assistance by the French embassy before seeing a doctor.

[an update will follow as more information emerges]t.

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