Wednesday, 22 June 2011

The Gates to the Lion's Den

So here I am in Cairo, a few months after Mubarak's demise realising that I haven't got the "no fear" fortification that many Egyptians have built in recent months.

It's led to self-censorship. Hearing of journalists' arrests hasn't helped.

In a way, I've parachuted myself into a situation without the required antibodies. I might feel a heightened sense of fear, in some situations.

The first test was presented to me a few days ago. I found out on Twitter about a protest that was being organised in solidarity with journalist Rasha Azab on Monday 20th of June. Rasha Azab had been summoned for questioning by the Military Prosecutor, accused of publishing false information. A group of activists decided to stand with her in solidarity. I wasn't sure if I'd go.

After much indecision, I decided to go. I felt like I was planning to go towards the gates to the lion's den.

I arrived at around midday to find a small protest of less than 50 or so people gathered outside the Military Court of the 10th District of Nasr City, a suburb in Cairo. Activists, journalists, television crew, pedestrians and a man with a cart selling termis (lupins), were gathered outside the gates to the Court. Another small detail I noticed, a man drinking water from an ulla (clay vessel) from the cart. Things looked fine.

I recognised some of the faces. People I didn't know personally, but who I'd seen on the international news or on the blog circuit. I felt less on my own.

As I started filming, I was approached by a man who had an army like shirt on. He advised me not to point the camera in the direction of the court. Apparently an officer had come out earlier to the gathered group and advised them of this protocol. Something I had missed. The man's attire led me to believe he was an officer reprimanding me. My fear had blinded me. He was in fact a journalist. In my eagerness to film an "establishing shot," I realised how clumsy I'd been.

I stayed on for a couple of hours, interviewed a couple of people and left home pleased that I hadn't missed this event and I felt like I'd built a bit of strength.

Meanwhile the journalist in question was released. For further detail, see Al-Masry Al-Youm article.

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