A Tarnished Halo

Muslim Matters

A Tarnished Halo

By Sumayyah Meehan, TMO Middle East Correspondent

“He who controls others may be powerful, but he who has mastered himself is mightier still.”     –Lao Tzu


The events that have taken place in Egypt over the past few weeks have captivated, enraged, shocked and stunned a global audience. The way the Egyptian people were brutalized on the city streets during the heat of protests laid testament to the atrocities that many Egyptians have experienced over the past 30 years, during the tenure of ousted President Hosni Mubarak. For this reason, millions of Egyptians took to the streets to demand change and end the oppression. And the world stood in amazement as ordinary Egyptians made extraordinary efforts to protect their country in the midst of unprecedented chaos and restore some semblance of order.

Finally, after weeks of bloody protests and more than 300 Egyptians paying for freedom with their very lives, the announcement came that President Hosni Mubarak had stepped down. Egyptians all over the country exploded into cheers of joy and happiness. And the exuberance was contagious. People from all over the world celebrated with the Egyptian people for their victory over oppression. Specifically, across the Middle East, scores of people took to the streets in sheer jubilation over the victory that Egyptians had worked so hard to win. Drivers in Kuwait honked their horns as they cruised down Gulf Road in their luxury cars while waving Egyptian flags from open windows. Shoppers in Dubai “high-fived” one another as the news spread over mobile telecommunications. For a moment in time, just a crinkle, it seemed as if good had finally defeated evil.

However, within minutes of the announcement of Hosni Mubarak’s resignation, an estimated 200 Egyptian protestors morphed into unmanageable beasts. They had just been freed from an oppression that had defined the bulk of their lives and, within a mere matter of minutes, they chose to become violent merciless oppressors themselves. In the heart of Tahrir Square, CBS’s chief foreign correspondent Lara Logan was forcibly isolated from her male crew and surrounded by the frenzied mob. According to an official statement posted on the CBS News website, Logan was “…surrounded and suffered a brutal and sustained sexual assault and beating before being saved by a group of women and an estimated 20 Egyptian soldiers.” The statement goes on to say that Logan was able to leave Egypt on a flight back to the U.S. the following day and was hospitalized briefly before returning home to her husband and young son.

It’s not uncommon for female journalists to become caught up in the stories that they are covering and be brutalized or, worse yet, killed. Male journalists have also faced atrocious beatings and torture while covering the news that the rest of us rely on to keep in touch with current affairs. What is perhaps most heinous about the sexual assault and beating of Lara Logan is that it was perpetrated by a small group of people who became worse monsters than the dictator that they had just helped to topple. The brutalization of Lara Logan, who was providing the Egyptian people with a voice to speak with the rest of the world, has cast a grim shadow over the victory achieved in Egypt. It most assuredly has thrown a doubt over whether or not the Egyptian populous can adequately manage the newfound power that has been placed right in their hands.


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