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Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Reporter, Lara Logan, Sexually Assaulted While Covering Protests In Egypt: Reactions, Good, Bad And Ugly

CBS News released the story of their own reporter, Lara Logan, being separated from her crew while covering the protest in Egypt then being brutally beaten and sexually assaulted before being rescued and returning to the U.S. to recover.

On Friday, Feb. 11, the day Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak stepped down, CBS chief foreign correspondent Lara Logan was covering the jubilation in Tahrir Square for a "60 Minutes" story when she and her team and their security were surrounded by a dangerous element amidst the celebration. It was a mob of more than 200 people whipped into frenzy.

In the crush of the mob, she was separated from her crew. She 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. She reconnected with the CBS team, returned to her hotel and returned to the United States on the first flight the next morning. She is currently home recovering.

Reactions to this news have been mixed. Many think that one places themselves into danger when covering violence, in America or across the world and that people like Logan and CNN's Anderson Copper, who was recently attacked, understand the dangers of their jobs before going in.

Be that as it may, being beaten and sexually assaulted for doing the job, whether people approve of that job or those doing the job, is not a reason to show a lack of sympathy and outright hostility towards the victim, when anyone is harmed doing it.

Yet, hostility is exactly what I have seen as I browse the reactions to this story. Not just hostility, but in some cases people are actually claiming "she had it coming." (WARNING ALERT- horrendously offensive post on Logan's assault, linked only as an example of the vitriol I am seeing as I browse)

Jim Geraghty at NRO, provides examples of Nir Rosen, a fellow at the NYU Center for Law and Security, from his Twitter feed (account has now been deleted, but Geraghty captured the screen shots).

I’m sure Rosen will apologize at some point, and perhaps we’ll get some tut-tutting statement from NYU about the need for “civility” and “restraint” and “sensitivity.” Brows will be furrowed. Maybe they’ll hold a seminar about technology and emotional reactions to breaking news events.

But let’s just remember one thing going forward: Nir Rosen believed this was the right moment to let the world know that he “ran out of sympathy for her” and that we should “remember her role as a major war monger” and that we “have to find humor in the small things.”

Make no mistake, this post is not an attack on any political side of the aisle, I have seen sickeningly disgusting posts from both sides, with one even deciding to bash Muslims/Islam as a whole because of the attack.

So sad, too bad, Lara. No one told her to go there. She knew the risks. And she should have known what Islam is all about. Now she knows. Or so we’d hope. But in the case of the media vis-a-vis Islam, that’s a hope that’s generally unanswered.

This never happened to her or any other mainstream media reporter when Mubarak was allowed to treat his country of savages in the only way they can be controlled.

Now that’s all gone. How fitting that Lara Logan was “liberated” by Muslims in Liberation Square while she was gushing over the other part of the “liberation.”

Hope you’re enjoying the revolution, Lara! Alhamdilllullah [praise allah].

I will say the examples above are not representative of bloggers as a whole, no matter their political affiliation, and for that I am grateful. I see both sides condemning the few that are without moral conscience and highlighting all the comments, not just those from one "side" or another.

As an aside- Sexual assault does not always equal rape, yet I am seeing writers assume that because the words sexual assault were used it automatically means Logan was raped. Unless Logan, CBS News or someone familiar with the case confirms she was raped, folks should refer to it as CBS did, sexual assault. It makes the assault no less traumatizing, no less wrong and her injuries no less horrid.

[Update] In response to Nir Rosen's comments, which were mentioned above, via NRO, NYU Center for Law and Security has issued a formal statement:

From Karen J. Greenberg, Executive Director, Center on Law and Security:

Nir Rosen is always provocative, but he crossed the line with his comments about Lara Logan. I am deeply distressed by what he wrote about Ms. Logan and strongly denounce his comments. They were cruel and insensitive and completely unacceptable. Mr. Rosen tells me that he misunderstood the severity of the attack on her in Cairo. He has apologized, withdrawn his remarks, and submitted his resignation as a fellow, which I have accepted. However, this in no way compensates for the harm his comments have inflicted. We are all horrified by what happened to Ms. Logan, and our thoughts are with her during this difficult time.

As for Debbie Schlussel's comments about Muslims/Islam as a whole, let me say as an American Jew that has spent much time highlighting the acts of moderate Muslims that condemn the acts of the violent extremists, as well as the acts of those violent extremists that use the Islamic religion as some type of justification for their extremists actions, I find her comments no less disturbing than when I see attacks against Jews as a whole.

They say tragedy brings out the best and the worst in people. Today I have seen that proven unquestioningly true.

I find extremism from the far left and the far right to be just as disgusting as violence in the name of religion. Extremist bloggers just use their keyboards in place of bombs, fists and weapons.

[Update #2] TMZ reports Logan is vowing to be back to work within weeks.