According to The Blaze and the Associated Press, a television reporter for France 24 TV was seized and “savagely attacked” near Cairo’s Tahrir Square by a mob of at least 30 men. Sonia Dridi was attacked at 10:30 p.m. Friday after a live broadcast covering the ongoing protests at the square. She was rescued by a colleague and other bystanders. France 24 did not give any further information, but said that Dridi and those working with her were now safe, but “extremely shocked.” France 24 said also that it will file a lawsuit against the attackers.
In her Facebook page on Saturday Dridi wrote that she was “more frightened than hurt.” She also thanked her colleague, Ashraf Khalil, for helping her to escape the frenzied men. Khalil indicated that the mob had been closing in on them from all sides during their report from a street off Tahrir Square.
“The crowd surged in and then it went crazy. It was basically me keeping her in a bear hug, both arms around her and face-to-face,” he told The Associated Press, estimating that at least 30 men were involved. “It was hard to tell who was helping and who was groping her.”
Khalil said they escaped into a fast food restaurant which had reinforced steel doors. They then managed to reach a car, but the out-of-control crowd continued to shout at them and bang on the vehicle as they raced away.
“It didn’t feel organized or targeted. It felt disorganized,” he said. “I felt angry. I love Tahrir. I have a lot of nostalgia for Tahrir. I am still angry. I know this is not the first time this happened; it happened to other people I know. Still, it was a shock.”
Of course, Tahrir Square was made internationally famous as the epicenter of the nationwide revolt which brought down Egypt’s long time dictator Hosni Mubarak. Since then, numerous other protests and demonstrations have been staged by a wide and disparate range of groups and organizations.
Although the attack on Dridri was not caught on camera, Reuters has posted on YouTube a deeply disturbing video of what seems to be routine thuggery and lawlessness at Tahrir Square these days. That video may be seen above.
During the fight against Mubarak,, a TV reporter for CBS, was sexually assaulted and beaten in Tahrir Square. She said she thought that she was about to die during that attack. However, she was rescued, and spent four days recovering in a U.S. hospital.
As stated above, according to Khalil, these attacks do not appear to be organized. The attacks themselves, however, do seem to follow a pattern: Small groups of three to four men, ostensibly demonstrating or protesting, come together at the sight of a lone or small group of women. They begin jeering and cursing them, accusing them of being whores and prostitutes for being in public without a male escort. Then the actual assault begins by tearing at the women’s clothing, and exposing their breasts. No actual rapes have been reported -- reported.
Amnesty International said last June that these attacks are both political and religious. They are meant to intimidate women from participating in public life – political acts based on religious beliefs about women’s “place” in “society.” The Egyptian “authorities” have not arrested anyone for these assaults, and do not appear inclined to do so, according to AI.
As for the United States' position and response to these now regular assaults, the State Department has done little more than issue “advisories” and warnings to would-be tourists to avoid travel to or in Egypt for the foreseeable future.
Having traveled to and around Egypt several times in the past, I can assure the State Department that it does not need to tell me twice to keep clear of Egypt. And, a word to the wise: Whether male or female, whenever traveling in Africa (or the "Middle East"), one of the most dangerous things you can do is admit to being a "journalist."