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Egyptian media workers slam police attack on journalists’ union

THE International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) condemned the “outrageous and unacceptable” closure of the Egyptian Journalists’ Syndicate (EJS) headquarters in Cairo yesterday.

Egyptian riot police cordoned off the building and limited access to it yesterday in an escalating confrontation following a raid on the premises and the arrest of two journalists.

Omar Badr and Mahmoud al-Saqa were seized after being accused by the government of a range of offences, including incitement of recent protests against the government’s return of two Red Sea islands to Saudi Arabian control after almost 70 years.

Hundreds of journalists rallied on the steps outside the union headquarters, chanting: “Journalism is not a crime!” and demanding the dismissal of Interior Minister Magdy Abdel-Ghaffar.

Police severely restricted access, banning non-union members from entry, as well as some residents and workers and tradespeople with business in the surrounding area.

Foreign journalists were allowed entry only after receiving approval from several levels of officers, up to the rank of general.

IFJ president Jim Boumelha said: “The Egyptian government chose to celebrate World Press Freedom Day by attacking a journalists’ union and arresting its members.

“With 45 journalists rounded up to prevent them covering a protest last week, this is no isolated incident. The clampdown on media freedom goes on and on.

“We utterly condemn this grave attack on trade union and media freedom and we stand in solidarity with all our jailed colleagues, with our union and all those who strive for freedom of expression in Egypt,” Mr Boumelha concluded.

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