Photojournalist Andrew Burton Recounts Being Attacked in Egypt

Posted by David Ozanich — 3 Feb 2011

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It's hard out there for a pimp journalist. Here's the latest rundown of the physical attacks on, and arrests of, journalists in Egypt yesterday and today. Among them were two dozen journalists arrested by the Egyptian Interior Ministry including the Washington Post's Cairo bureau chief and their photographer, Linda Davidson.

Of particular interest is this account by photographer Andrew Burton "of being engulfed and beaten by a pro-Mubarak crowd yesterday." From his lengthy and compelling blog post which starts with the rather enormous understatement "I had some sh*t happen yesterday":

As I moved through the thickening crowd, things seemed slightly more tense than earlier in the day. Before I got to where the fighting was taking place, I noticed a pro-Mubarak supporter painting slogans over anti-Mubarak graffiti.  I started to photograph him, but was suddenly grabbed from behind by a young man who also slapped his hand over my camera - he was very angry.


I immediately tried to walk away, out of the crowd. There was no reason for me to try to argue or fight, I figured I would reroute to Tahrir square through a different street. At this point, things got very hairy, very fast.

Within seconds, anti-Mubarak protestors saw me try to leave the crowd - they grabbed me and encouraged me to continue to walk towards to fighting. Pro-Mubarak supporters got very angry over this, and fighting broke out around me immediately.

Very suddenly 50% of the crowd started attacking me - kicking, punching and slapping. The other 50% (anti-Mubarak supporters) quickly encircled me to protect me. Five or six guys surrounded me and took many more blows than i did.  We tried to move away, out of the crowd, but the crowd had gotten very large, very quickly - we only moved about 100 yards, at best. Movement was slow and clunky, we were stumbling through the people attacking us - forcing our way through the crowd.   We were headed towards an Egyptian army tank and when we hit the it, the men positioned me with my back to the tank, squatting down. At this point,  I was pinned. People continued to kick, punch and grab at cameras.  Soldiers standing on top of the tank were waving pistols and screaming. I was fucking terrified. My shirt was ripped from my back, hands went into my pockets (the most they got was my CF cards), the men protecting me were looking at me screaming me, 'you are safe, we are here for you, we will get you out of this."

I only escaped when the soldiers on top of the tank literally ripped me out of the crowd, lifting me by the armpits. I was dumped head first inside the tank.

Read the rest of his account and see more of his photographs at his blog. NPR also reports on the story which published the photos in this post, the last Burton took before being attacked. Below, a "pro-Mubarak supporter paints slogans over anti-Mubarak graffiti."

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UPDATE: ABC World News is keeping a list of all the journalists "who have been in some way threatened, attacked or detained while reporting in Egypt." It is disturbingly long.

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