Pro-Mubarak protesters in Egypt may have been following government instructions when they attacked members of the media today, according to the Jerusalem Post. Journalists from Sweden and Israel have allegedly been detained by the Egyptian government, and CNN correspondent Anderson Cooper and his news crew were physically assaulted by the pro-government rioters:
Two Swedish reporters were held for hours on Wednesday by Egyptian soldiers accusing them of being Mossad spies, the reporters’ employer, daily newspaper Aftonbladet, reported.
The soldiers reportedly attacked the reporters, spitting in their faces and threatening to kill them.
Four Israeli journalists were arrested by Egyptian military police in Cairo on Wednesday. Three of those arrested work for Channel 2 and the fourth is from Nazareth.
In addition, renowned CNN correspondent Anderson Cooper and his news crew were roughed up by mobs favoring Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, as were Washington Post reporters. Cooper was reportedly punched in the head ten times.
Another CNN correspondent said that pro-government rioters were instructed to target the press.
The State Department has tweeted a statement condemned the attacks, saying that “We are concerned about detentions and attacks on news media in Egypt. The civil society that Egypt wants to build includes a free press.” But the U.S. really needs to issue a much harsher condemnation on this. Not only is the Egyptian government now acting in direct defiance of Obama administration requests for nonviolence; it also appears that it may have instructed pro-Mubarak mobs to attack Americans. Based on this latest crackdown on the news media, and the recent suspension of Al Jazeera’s Cairo bureau, it’s growing even clearer that Mubarak has no interest in pursuing the democratic reforms the U.S. has been calling for.