Natasha Smith joined a few of us City graduates on a weekend hostile environment safety training course for new journalists a couple of months ago. Since then she’s been out filming her project in Cairo – proud city of a great nation she inspiringly describes in her own words here as coming to know and love – and where she has just been brutally attacked by a crowd of men next to Tahrir Square.
She has been amazingly strong enough to calmly and clearly write and publish her account only a couple of days after her ordeal, and has admirably chosen to still express her support and deep admiration for the good people of Egypt – demonstrating a drive and empathy to which I and many other journalists feel akin to.
However, I feel those of us in this profession must also take a stand alongside her kind and patient words. I’m reminding myself of the reality existing during and after any revolution – one which we must also report on alongside our hopes and ideals for any country’s freedom. That beneath all the media-driven hype of Egypt’s historical newfound democracy still lies an abhorrent and degenerative behaviour being acted upon women – Egyptian and western alike – of which we have now seen, heard, read about too many times to not want or have to tolerate any longer. So this is where I momentarily lay down my objective journalist’s cap, step out of the mould and, as a human being, now use my words against the minority of men who continue to do this in Tahrir Square, let alone anywhere:
God or no God, nothing will save you after committing such brutal acts. We work to help increase awareness and spread understanding in the West about those like you struggling against political and state tyranny in the rest – yet you repay us by spreading tyranny on the ground? If you want us to come to your country, amplify your new voice of freedom, and uphold you on the international stage of independent democratic states striving to hold together a world each of our nations have mutually constituted through centuries of bloodshed, then don’t ever attack another one of us again – not your women, not our women.
Within the blinding light of democracy lies unavoidable responsibility to secure stability and protection for everyone who is part of and visiting your great nation. But as long as you continue your animalistic predation, no number of journalists will be able to save your society from fast being viewed with utter disgust, contempt and rejection by others looking on. No hand will be held out to you, and no understanding let alone tolerance will remain within those hearing of your brutality upon the very individuals whose job it is to come and report your revolution to our shared world. You are atavistically throwing your newfound freedom back into the dark ages and bringing the wall back down between our hemispheres. You only shun the very essence of Islam – a great religion you are clearly not worthy of – undermining the spirit of your own people. And ultimately it is your own people’s judgement you are now left facing.
This may appear a blunt and simple op-ed, but as a woman in journalism hearing a friend has now also been attacked, I will no longer hold back from using my only weapon to curse those who brutally violate us at the core and shatter the very confidence we need to do our work. And I hope more of our words somehow render such men utterly fearful and wretched in front of their own people, and incapable of hiding from the truth of their acts deep within. Until then, I’ll put my journalism cap back on and continue supporting democratic victory for the majority of good Egyptians.
Please share Natasha’s account - it must be heard alongside all the media hype of Egypt’s new democracy, as clearly our work here is far from done.