Foreign journalists became the target on Wednesday. As Pro-Mubarak mobs, believed to be thugs and undercover police, tried to storm the pro-democracy protest in Tahrir Square, anyone with a camera became a target.
Deadly clashes saw people on horses storm Tahrir to attack unarmed protesters in a surreal scene. The attack on journalists there by Pro-Mubarak protesters was similarly orchestrated. A journalist friend said if you can’t run, don’t go there.
By the next morning, the target wasn’t simply people with cameras, but anyone who looked remotely foreign. State TV and phone calls aired live by private satellite TV have been blaming “foreigners” for mobilizing the Tahrir protesters and turning them against their country.
Two of our Daily News Egypt reporters were attacked by mobs while doing field reporting in a district away from Tahrir. “They are foreign; they are asking questions,” the mobs said as they tried to beat them along with any Egyptian that dared defend them. An army officer saved the reporters. Another was running trying to disperse crowds attacking other foreigners.
Mob mentality took over and people were charged. I stood watching in disbelief, anger and fear, mourning my once safe Egypt.
I drove a French-American journalist to the airport later that day. In the morning he said he’d ignore his embassy’s call to evacuate and stay in Egypt. After the attack he packed his bags. We had to avoid roads known to be dominated by the Mubarak mobs. We made it to the airport safe, but I felt I was smuggling drugs not driving a friend across the city.
This ran in Italian in the Corriere Della Sera.