Daily Israel Report

French Reporter 'Savagely Attacked' in Cairo's Tahrir Square

A French female television reporter was sexually assaulted during a protest near Cairo's Tahrir Square on Saturday.
By Rachel Hirshfeld
First Publish: 10/21/2012, 1:11 PM

Tahrir Square
Tahrir Square
Reuters

A French female television reporter was sexually assaulted during a protest near Cairo's Tahrir Square on Saturday.

Sonia Dridi, a correspondent for France 24, was surrounded by a group of young men, who began to grope her, during a live television broadcast. The attack lasted several minutes before a male colleague managed to pull her away from the mob.

"I was groped everywhere. I realized (later), when someone closed my shirt, that it was opened, but not torn off," she told AFP.

"I avoided the worst because I have a good belt," said the reporter, who eventually found refuge in a fast food restaurant.

"While she was speaking live from the Egyptian capital ... (she was) violently attacked and savagely assaulted by the crowd," France 24 television said in a statement. The channel added that Dridi was rescued by bystanders including her colleague Ashraf Khalil, who works as an English-language correspondent.

France 24 said the journalists were "extremely shocked" and would file a complaint. The channel said it was doing all it could to get Dridi back to France and had contacted the French embassy in Cairo.

In the past, police have failed to apprehend suspects after similar attacks.

The harassment of Egyptian women is commonplace in Cairo and includes touching, obscene remarks and rude gestures. Foreign women are fair game.

Recently, witnesses at Tahrir Square have reported increasingly serious assaults, including rapes, which occur without eliciting reactions from authorities.

The London-based Amnesty International human rights group issued a report in June saying that such attacks are designed to intimidate women and prevent them from fully participating in public life. The group has called on Egyptian authorities to investigate the reports and take action against the perpetrators.

In June, a group of men attacked and sexually assaulted several protesters in a women's march against sexual harassment in Tahrir Square, the epicenter of the uprising that toppled president Hosni Mubarak early last year.

At the height of the uprising, Lara Logan, mother of three, a correspondent for CBS News, was brutally beaten and raped by hundreds of men in Tahrir Square. During the attack men shouted that she was an Israeli Jew, a false claim that nonetheless served to further enrage the crowd.

Logan later said that the crowd tore off her clothes and raped her with their hands, while taking photographs with their cellphones. They began pulling her body in different directions and pulled her hair so hard she said she thought they would tear off chunks of her scalp. She later said that she believed she was going to die. After being rescued, Logan returned to the United States and was treated in a hospital for four days.