Egypt’s general prosecutor decided to end the investigation into the assault and sexual harassment of Egyptian journalists, both male and female, and members of the opposition during the May 2005 referendum on the constitution.
The event occurred amid a flow of news: Israel’s future in the post-Sharon era, the rise in suicide operations and deadly bombings in Iraq, the building collapse in Mecca, the latest information on the Lebanese-Syrian crisis and the Iranian President’s resolve to go ahead with his country’s nuclear program…
The news from Egypt was reported in a number of news agencies and on the internet. It was almost totally absent from satellite television stations, news and local channels. It was barely mentioned in newspapers and on the Radio airwaves.
Compared to other dangerous and fateful developments threatening the region, the Egyptian journalists’ case appeared trivial.
Male and female journalists were assaulted. The victims resorted to the legal authorities but the general prosecutor, after several months had elapsed, turned down their complaint because it was unknown perpetrators could not be brought to justice, even though the incidents were caught on video and broadcast on television channels. Tens of witnesses saw the assaults. The general prosecutor did not take into account the filmed sequences where the assailants appeared confident they would not be held to account. Oblivious to the cameras, they appeared to be addressing the viewers and mocking their victims. The same scenario was repeated during the last elections, when citizens were killed but no one saw or heard anything, despite the events being caught on camera.
Human rights organizations condemned the attacks against journalists and opposition figures and criticized the Egyptian official response. But the echo from regional crises was more powerful in the media.
We currently live in a region in crisis, full of frightening developments. The media have not only become a window were these problems are displayed but also a venue for different groups and organizations to conduct their disagreements.
This is reality…
News, such as the inability to discover the assailants of Egyptian journalists and opposition members, goes reported. The media will not uncover the truth behind the massacre of Sudanese refugees in the midst of Cairo, last week, or reveal the background of the murder of three Egyptian families in al Minya, let alone report a case of assault and harassment. Perhaps in the eyes of some, these attacks might seen as comical relief from more serious news.
Numerous events go unreported on our pages and television screens as they make way for bigger headlines. I do not wish to criticize any media organization. I am merely describing reality.
We pride ourselves day after day of the increase in media outlets, satellite channels and the growth of the internet. We complain about the volume of news. Yet, we still find news and events that are not reported or discussed.
Perhaps we need to invent new media outlets!