Monday, August 17, 2015

The Years of Living dangerously as a photojournalist in Egypt

That Sunday Morning when Ahmed Ramadan picked up his photography gear and headed to the Police academy in New Cairo to cover the Morsi’s espionage trial as usual, he did not imagine that
Ahmed Ramdan 
by afternoon his life would change upside down because of a nasty lie made by ironically a colleague.

The Photographer working in Tahrir newspaper was heading to the courtroom set up at the Police Academy as he used to when he suddenly found himself arrested by security forces and accused to be a Muslim Brotherhood member who entered the court without a permit claiming to be a journalist.

It was shocking for the young photographer who began his career as professional news photographer during the 25 January revolution in 2011 especially that he got his newspaper card and he was registered as photographer who used to cover trials at the Police academy.

But having the permits and getting arrested was not the only shock because it turned out that a colleague was behind his arrest.
Oh yes, it turned out that A video journalist from Youm 7 reported Ramadan to the security forces at Police Academy as a member of the Muslim Brotherhood.

Video Journalist Amany Al-Akhras reported her ex-colleague at Youm 7 to the security forces claiming that he was fired from the Pro-regime newspaper and website because he was allegedly a member of the Brotherhood according to other eyewitnesses and reporters at the court !!!!

Ramadan who is not a member of any political group or party was fired along a group of photographers and journalists from Pro-regime Youm 7 last year and as far as I know for “Non-political” reasons.

The Brotherhood was designated as terrorist organization already in December 2013, yes Ramadan is officially accused of belonging to a terrorist organization thanks to a lie  !!
And Ramadan was referred to the Prosecution that decided to detain him pending investigation till Monday.
Needless to say that Amany Al-Akhrass was slammed online by other journalists who attacked her for reporting her colleague in that shameful way.
It is known that there are journalists who work as informants spying on their colleagues in newspapers and websites and this is known since the 1960s , but this is a new level of snitchers.
 “#Amany_Al-Akhras_security-informant_of_Youm7” was among the trending tweets in Egypt on Sunday.
On Monday, dozens of Egyptian journalists protested in solidarity with Ramadan as well photojournalist Mahmoud Abu Zaid “Shawkan”.
The journalists protesting "Photo: Ahmed Kheir"
Shawkan has been now for two years in detention pending investigations after his arrest at Pro-Morsi Rabaa sit-in dispersal on August 14, 2013.
Doaa El-Adl " Shawkan says Cheese after 730 days on his detention"
That small protest at the Journalists syndicate staircase earlier today shows a lot.
The journalists in the protest demanded the Syndicate to take an action against journalist Amany Al-Akhras signing a petition against her.
The Journalists Syndicate council took a decision already following the protest and decided to ban Al-Akhras from entering the Syndicate’s building in an unprecedented action.
The administrative decision on the doors of the syndicate
"Photo: Ahmed Khair
I do not recall it was taken before against any journalist in similar circumstances. By “Similar circumstances” means banned for “snitching”
Youm 7 administration has decided to investigate the incident as well in compliance to the orders of the syndicate.
The video journalist who used to be a member in Omar Suleiman Presidential campaign and mainly covers trials and ministry of interior stuff in videos had already closed her Facebook account. Needless to say, most of the Pro-regime supporters defend her now claiming that she was a victim of the Brotherhood !!!!
Back to Ahmed Ramadan, the New Cairo Prosecution decided to release him on bail pending investigations.
Despite he was released , he is facing the following charges : Belonging to the Muslim Brotherhood and claiming that he is a journalist.
Now the government says that only the members of the journalists syndicate are considered journalists in front of the law. Most of the journalists in Egypt are not members in the syndicate due to its hard conditions like working in a printed newspaper and not a website for instance !!
Ramadan is still facing investigations and charges and hopefully he will get through all this inshallah.
The incident of Ramadan is just the tip of the iceberg in Egypt.
Yesterday President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi ratified the Anti-Terrorism law. That article N.33 from that law has threatened fines between LE200,000 to LE500,000 (approximately $26,000 to $66,000). as punishment for "reporting false information on terrorist attacks in Egypt which contradict official statements.
On Thursday , the Egyptian government confiscated the first edition of Sawt Al-Oma about El-Sisi’s mother and her illness. Abdel Fattah El-Sisi’s mother passed away on Sunday by the way.
Last week a photojournalist was found dead in shady circumstances after more than 10 days of disappearance in North Sinai.

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