Egypt police detain, beat, sexually assault US-based journalist Mona Eltahawy; other journalists also targeted

[video link] US-based Egyptian blogger, speaker, and journalist Mona Eltahawy was released today after spending 12 hours detained by Egyptian security forces in Cairo. According to her tweets, she was arrested by riot police while observing the ongoing protests in Tahrir Square, where thousands of Egyptian citizens are calling for the military junta SCAF to be disbanded, and a representative, democratically-elected leadership to take their place.

While she was held, Mona managed to tweet from a fellow detainee's Blackberry that she had been beaten and was in prison. When she was released, Mona tweeted more details: she had been sexually and physically assaulted, and sustained a broken arm and a broken hand from beatings inside the interior ministry in Cairo, in the early hours of Thursday morning.

"The whole time I was thinking about article I would write," she writes, "Just you fuckers wait."

A number of journalists and well-known voices from Twitter have been detained in the last few days, including Egyptian-American documentary maker Jehane Noujaim, and Maged Butter, shown below (WARNING: graphic image):

More details from Mona's tweet-stream over the last few hours:


12 hours with Interior Ministry bastards and military intelligence combined. Can barely type - must go xray arms after CSF pigs beat me.

A thousand thanks for all well wishes and support. Fuck #EgyPolice.

I can barely imagine what my family and loved ones were going through those 12 hours-I know they were worried about me to begin with. Sorry

Thank God a political activist in MOI with me lent me his phone to tweet. Right after my tweet his battery died

5 or 6 surrounded me, groped and prodded my breasts, grabbed my genital area and I lost count how many hands tried to get into my trousers.

They are dogs and their bosses are dogs. Fuck the Egyptian police.

Yes sexual assault. I'm so used to saying harassment but those fuckings assaulted me. #CSF

@Sarahngb is coming to kindly take me to the hospital. Besides beating me, the dogs of CSF subjected me to the worst sexual assault ever

Didn't want to go with military intelligence but one MP said either come politely or not. Those guys didn't beat or assault me.

Instead, blindfolded me for 2 hrs, after keeping me waiting for 3. At 1st answered Qs bec passport wasn't w me but then refused as civilian

Another hour later I was free with apology from military intelligence for what CSF did. Took pics of my bruises and recorded statement

On sexual assault and said would investigate it and said they had no idea why I was there. Then who does??! WTF!

The past 12 hrs were painful and surreal but I know I got off much much easier than so many other Egyptians.

God knows what wuld've happened if I wasn't dual citizen (tho they brought up detained US students) & that I wrote/appeared various media.

#Egypt must be free of those bastards

Military intelligence blindfolded me for 2 hrs. Didn't want 2 go with them but 1 said I either go politely or else. 3 hrs later,

My Cairo phone got lost during my beating so no calls there

I was arrested alone and I didnt know that @MagButter was arrested too. Glad to hear he was released as well

My left arm and right hand are broken acc to xrays

More on US involvement in her release, from the Guardian:

A US embassy representative in Cairo told the Guardian that the reports of her detention were "very concerning" and that "US embassy consulate officers are engaging Egyptian authorities".

An AP/MSNBC item on the story is here.

PHOTO: The face of bravery. Mona, having just received medical treatment after being released from prison, tweeted this photo of her casts an hour ago.

UPDATE: There are now reports of other women, possibly a female journalist from France, being stripped and sexually attacked at Tahrir.


  1. See, THIS is when I get hawkish.  “Oh, hey, we were content to remain non-interventionist until you fucked with an American citizen.  Deliver these dude’s to justice or we’ll take your lack of action as sufficient evidence that you are a fundamentally unjust & hostile coup & we’ll have to depose you.  Do not fuck with American citizens.”

    1. See, THIS is when I get hawkish.

      If you lose your principles under duress, you never had any to start with.

        1. As much as I abhor what happened to her (and many others), talking about deposing the Egyptian government is a bad idea. I’m opposed to US military intervention!!! Except when I’m really pissed off about something!!!

          You don’t really find out what your real principles are until you’re furious and want revenge.

          1. You don’t really find out what your real principles are until you’re furious and want revenge.

            Most people don’t run on principles, nor should they. Results are what matter. The question is what result you’re interested in (personally, I don’t have much interest in this, but “nobody gets beaten up or sexually assaulted by Egyptian cops, and ESPECIALLY not Americans” seems reasonable), and what action will most effectively lead to that result.

        1. So you support the war in Afghanistan? And the war in Iraq? And the one that we’re pondering in Iran? How many countries have detained or abused US citizens without reasonable cause? Because that principle would require us to invade dozens of countries. And of course, since we routinely abuse people who are coming from other countries to the US, we would be subject to annihilation by the rest of the world.

          So, yeah, that would be a pretty horrible principle.

          1. Bringing up a laundry list of unpopular wars– or what, military actions, whatever– sort of strains credibility. No? We didn’t go to Iraq because they sexually assaulted US citizens, we went there– well, on the face of it because of false information about massive military weapons, & the invocation of the preventive war policy. & Afghanistan was– is– an attempt to root our Al Qaeda– which is a big policy difference I have with the Bush wars as well, holding nations fully responsible for criminal elements within them. That, &, you know, I’ve got a bone to pick with the modern use of bombs…which are weapons to go along with “total war” & certainly no way to help a nation out…

            So yeah, I guess what I’m saying is that those aren’t good parallels at all? I’d point at the North Korean kidnapping of journalists as a better example. Diplomacy won the day & hooray for Bill Clinton & all that jazz, but these are the official state forces acting in their official capacity against US citizens. So yeah. It gets my hackles up.

            & for the record, yeah, I think there should be condemnation for US authorities engaging in criminal practices against foreign citizens, too. Is that crazy? That I’d expect my government not to assault & rape people?

          2. Is that crazy? That I’d expect my government not to assault & rape people?

            Yes, if you’re beating the war drum or even just idly tapping it then that is crazy.  Rape is part of war and it always has been.  If you don’t want American soldiers to sexually assault or rape anyone then oppose war.  It really is that simple.

    1. I’m afraid you are the one who is confused. Maybe it is an obvious risk, but “should expect to get beaten” is not the same as “deserve to get beaten.”  

      Furthermore, you have an antonymic definition of “coward” if it includes people who voluntarily put themselves in harm’s way for a greater cause.

        1. and its this simplistic and reductionist kind of analysis that makes me glad that you’re nothing more than in impotent internet troll.  troll on, trollololl on.

    2. By definition, you aren’t coming down on the side of the Egyptians, you’re coming down with the Egyptian authorities, there’s a big difference there. Egyptian citizens are subjected to the same abhorent treatment, if I were a betting man I would wager that the average citizen is equally appalled whether this happens to someone with full Egyptian citizenship or someone who wields dual-citizenship.

      I’m curious as to what your definition of a “hipster journalist” is? Leaving aside the implicit criticism in your turn of phrase, a quick check of Wikipedia (ok, not necessarily always the most authorative source) shows that Eltahawy was a correspondent for Reuters for many years, and has written for the Washington Post, New York Times, and International Herald Tribune. That would hardly seem to fulfil any definition of “hipster journalist”, at least how I would see that term being applied.

      I’m also curious as to how far you would extend your arguments. For example, would you argue that a reporter in a war zone deserves to be shot or injured were that to happen. The BBC correspondent Martin Bell was injured by shrapnel while working in Bosnia. He went in to a war zone knowing it was dangerous, but there’s no way you could argue that he deserved that injury, and I see absolutely no difference in this instance.

        1. You’re clouding the issue with spurious arguments. Eltahawy as individual is not responsible for propping up the Egyptian regime, the vast majority of Americans are not responsible for propping up the Egyptian regime. She, as an individual, should not be punished for the collective responsibility of the American government. There are aspects of the USA that I deeply dislike (and for balance, there are aspects of the UK that I deeply dislike too), but that does not cause me to feel an malice towards individual citizens, with a few exceptions like Bush Jr, Cheney and the gang.

          I was not aware that those publications all have the same owner, although my admittedly brief research doesn’t actually support that assertion in its entirety. But again, that’s clouding the issue, and has at its heart media plurality and ownership. What, in your opinion, is a publication that is not to be considered proganda? I ask that question quite genuinely, as I appreciate that different people have varying opinions regarding different news sources. For example, I would consider the BBC to be a reliable source, The Daily Mail rather less so, so I’d like to know what sources you hold in high regard.

          The UK did sell arms and munitions to the Yugoslavian regime, it may not have been aid as such, but we certainly provided the authorities with means to assist in the atrocities committed there.

  2. Ant, you are so right, this is the real reason for laws among civilized, rational peoples. Under duress, our moral character is revealed.

    Dysfunctional people are going to do whatever they desire, without regard for the law. The law’s real purpose, or what the law’s real purpose should be, is to act as a deterrent to those who are still in control of their faculties, but are debating just what their response should be to adverse events.

    I tend to view all those who break the simple law of *leave others the fuck alone*, as emotionally disabled. In other words I don’t buy the excuse, “I was drunk.”

    The law used in any other way is tyranny, plain and simple.

  3. Blind adherence to a principle is the same as “zero-tolerance” laws.   Principles are very important–that’s why we call them principles.  But principles also come into conflict with each other.  As Goedel showed, there is no completely self-consistent set of principles possible.  It is perfectly reasonable and desirable to evaluate circumstances on a case by case basis, to prioritize principles and to come to a reasonable compromise among them.  I would expect nothing less from a thoughtful person.

    1. You utterly fail to understand the concept of what a principle is. It is something that can be applied to every situation. You evaluate situations on a case by case basis by applying your fundamental principles to them.

  4. Principles are what seperate us from the lower brain folks who still rely on their reptillian brains.   Emotions & brain chemicals that trigger fight or flight reations need to be donminated for good decision making by the rational brain.    Without principles, emtions will always win.   [9/11 response, etc]   Working on developing what your principles are (under what situations is it morally correct for me to kill, etc) will help guide you if and when the siutation ever occurs.   That’s why I like reading stories about non-voiolent responses to situations, so I can learn and be prepared.   Otherwise, kill the fuckers is usually our emotive response to every threat situation, which, in the endgame, leaves a hell of a lot more bodies compared to more rational alternatives.

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