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During the Tahrir Square uprising that brought down Egyptian strongman Hosni Mubarek, an anchor for Egypt’s state-owned Nile TV famously walked off the set in protest.
Her name is Shahira Amin, and she left her job to support the protesters because she didn’t want to be involved in state television’s propaganda.
She came to our studios during a recent trip to Boston and told Here & Now‘s Sacha Pfeiffer that her tipping point was the “battle of the camels” in Tahrir Square in February of 2011.
“Men on horseback and camelback stormed into Tahrir Square and attacked the peaceful activists with whips and batons like a scene from Medieval times. And I watched it with horror on Al Arabiya, one of the satellite channels,” Amin said.
She said she wanted to tell the world what was happening, but her editor warned her not to.
“‘[The editor] said, ‘We are given clear instructions not to mention it, don’t you dare,'” Amin recalled. “And that’s when I decided I am not doing this.”
Amin stayed in Tahrir Square from that day until Hosni Mubarak was forced out. During that time, she joined the protesters and reported for international news organizations.
“It was an amazing time because I was there as an Egyptian national wanting change, but also as a journalist, being able to report,” she said.
‘State TV Hasn’t Changed Much’
Amin has since returned to work at Egypt’s state TV, but she says she’s still under restrictions, particularly if she mentions the military.
“State TV hasn’t changed much — it’s still under the control of the military regime,” she said. “They have replaced Mubarak with the military authority as the new red line that they cannot cross.”
She says there is a new minister of information who is a military general and that journalists are punished for their writing.
“Bloggers have been put behind bars simply for putting their opinions on Facebook,” she said. “The atmosphere is still very repressive.”
Amin says the good news is that there has been a revolution in independent media organizations, which are pushing for more freedom. But she says she is sticking with state TV because she wants to push for reforms from the inside.
Amin was in Boston to speak at Harvard’s Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at a conference called “Women Making Democracy.”