News / Middle East

In Egypt, Photographers Face Harrassment

  • Amira Mortada and a colleague in the field after clashes broke out across Egypt in response to Morsi's ouster, August 2013. (Courtesy of Amira Mortada)
  • Morsi-supporters have held near-constant protests since his ouster on July 3 and clashes have erupted, August 2013. (Courtesy of Amira Mortada)
  • Even aerial photographs of clashes in Alexandria are difficult to take, as renters are afraid to allow photographers to use their space for work, August, 2013. (Courtesy of Amira Mortada)
  • The streets of Alexandria are still tense since the clashes quieted last week, but photographers say locals are still suspicious of anyone with a camera, August 2013. (Courtesy of Amira Mortada)
  • Photographers in Alexandria say they are blamed for the increasingly one-sided news. Some say they will change who they say they are shooting for based on the political views of the crowd, August 2013. (Courtesy of Amira Mortada)
Photographer Amira Mortada Documents the Unrest in Alexandria, Egypt
Heather Murdock
Taking photographs in Egypt attracts hostility from all sides of the political crisis that has turned increasingly violent in recent weeks, and many photographers in the tense city of Alexandria avoid the streets, or the city altogether.  

In better times, tourists from all over Egypt and the world visited Alexandria to take pictures of the blue waters, the historic buildings and the world-famous library.  But in these turbulent days, cameras are snatched from the few tourists in the city and residents taking pictures from their balconies are threatened. 
Despite the dangers, photojournalist Amira Mortada has been taking pictures on the streets for more than three years.  In recent weeks, she has been harassed, shot at and chased, But she has no desire to quit.
Mortada said when she started taking pictures for the news she was the only female photojournalist in town.  Since then, two other women have entered the field.  
She said after the Hosni Mubarak regime fell in 2011, the onslaught of free speech made her feel like she could fly.  But two and a half years later, photography is more dangerous than ever as supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood face off with army supporters.
The Egyptian military ousted President Mohamed Morsi July 3 and since then the Muslim Brotherhood has organized near-constant protests.  More than a thousand people have died in recent weeks as the military-installed interim government cracked down on demonstrations.  
Protests continue on a smaller scale and journalists are caught in the middle as news sources line up on both sides.  Several journalists are among the dead.  Some local reporters are accused of being pro-government while foreign reporters are accused of being pro-Brotherhood. 
At a café in central Alexandria, near the scene of many recent clashes, Mortada’s colleague, photojournalist Ahmed Tarek, said no matter where you attempt to take pictures in Alexandria, someone will be suspicious. 
“In the end of the day they judge journalists from the chief editor’s point of view," he said. "A colleague of ours -- many colleagues faced violence and harassment when they work because of the point of view of their chief editor.  Not them.”
Mortada said her newspaper has taken a side in the political crisis but she personally has not. Photography, she added, can be used to support propaganda for one side or another.  But photos can also tell the truth when placed next to words that do not, she noted.

You May Like

Video Russia’s Syrian Escalation Tests Obama’s Crisis Response

Critics once again question whether president has been slow to act on Syrian conflict, thus creating opening for powers like Russia More

Ancient African DNA Shows Mass Migration Back Into Africa

First genetic analysis of ancient human remains in Africa suggests massive migration from north around time of Egyptian empire More

NASA: Pluto Has Blue Sky

New photos also reveal the presence of water ice More

This forum has been closed.
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Hungary Criticized for Handling of Refugeesi
Henry Ridgwell
October 08, 2015 8:02 PM
Amnesty International has accused Hungary of breaking multiple international and European human rights laws in its handling of the refugee crisis. As Henry Ridgwell reports, thousands of migrants and refugees continue to travel through the Balkans to Hungary every day.

Video Hungary Criticized for Handling of Refugees

Amnesty International has accused Hungary of breaking multiple international and European human rights laws in its handling of the refugee crisis. As Henry Ridgwell reports, thousands of migrants and refugees continue to travel through the Balkans to Hungary every day.

Video Iraqi-Kurdish Teachers Vow to Continue Protest

Sixteen people were injured when police used tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse teachers and other public employees who took to the streets in Iraq’s Kurdish north, demanding their salaries from the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG). VOA’s Dilshad Anwar, in Sulaimaniya, caught up with protesting teachers who say they have not been paid for three months. Parke Brewer narrates his report.

Video Syrian Village Community Faces Double Displacement in Lebanon

Driven by war from their village in southwestern Syria, a group of families found shelter in Lebanon, resettling en masse in a half-built university to form one of the biggest settlements of its kind in Lebanon. Three years later, however, they now face being kicked out and dispersed in a country where finding shelter as a refugee can be especially tough. John Owens has more for VOA from the city of Saida, also known as Sidon.

Video Bat Colony: Unusual Tourist Attraction in Texas

The action hero Batman might be everyone’s favorite but real bats hardly get that kind of adoration. Put more than a million of these creatures of the night together and it only evokes images of horror. Sarah Zaman visited the largest urban bat colony in North America to see just how well bat and human get along with each other.

Video Device Shows Promise of Stopping Motion Sickness

It’s a sickening feeling — the dizziness, nausea and vomiting that comes with motion sickness. But a device now being developed could stop motion sickness by suppressing certain signals in the brain. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.

Video Making a Mint

While apples, corn, and cranberries top the list of fall produce in the US, it’s also the time to harvest gum, candy, and toothpaste—or at least the oil that makes them minty fresh. Erika Celeste reports from South Bend, Indiana on the mint harvest.

Video Activists Decry Lagos Slum Demolition

Acting on a court order, authorities in Nigeria demolished a slum last month in the commercial capital, Lagos. But human rights activists say the order was illegal, and the community was razed to make way for a government housing project. Chris Stein has more from Lagos.

Video TPP Agreed, But Faces Stiff Opposition

President Barack Obama promoted the Trans-Pacific Partnership on Tuesday, one day after 12 Pacific Rim nations reached the free trade deal in Atlanta. The controversial pact that would involve about 40 percent of global trade still needs approval by lawmakers in respective countries. Zlatica Hoke reports Obama is facing strong opposition to the deal, including from members of his own party.

Video Ukranian Artist Portrays Putin in an Unusual Way

As Russian President Vladimir Putin was addressing the United Nations in New York last month, he was also being featured in an art exhibition in Washington. It’s not a flattering exhibit. It’s done by a Ukrainian artist in a unique medium. And its creator says it’s not only a work of art - it’s a political statement. VOA’s Tetiana Kharchenko has more.

Video Nano-tech Filter Cleans Dirty Water

Access to clean water is a problem for hundreds of millions of people around the world. Now, a scientist and chemical engineer in Tanzania (in East Africa) is working to change that by creating an innovative water filter that makes dirty water safe. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.

Video Demand Rising for Organic Produce in Cambodia

In Cambodia, where rice has long been the main cash crop, farmers are being encouraged to turn to vegetables to satisfy the growing demand for locally produced organic farm products. Daniel de Carteret has more from Phnom Penh.

Video Botanists Grow Furniture, with Pruning Shears

For something a bit out of the ordinary to furnish your home, why not consider wooden chairs, crafted by nature, with a little help from some British botanists with an eye for design. VOA’s Jessica Berman reports.

VOA Blogs