Lara Logan, CBS’ chief foreign news correspondent, returned to work this month, just over two months after she was brutally assaulted in Tahrir Square in Cairo on February 11th, the night that Hosni Mubarak stepped down from power. She will be appearing on the CBS News program “60 Minutes” this Sunday night and speaking about the assault after which, according to the New York Times, “she does not intend to give other interviews on the subject.” As Logan says:
“I don’t want this to define me.”
In the New York Times, Logan describes the assault she suffered by an estimated 200 to 300 men, on a night when Cairo was “on fire with celebration”:
She and a camera crew traversed Tahrir Square, the epicenter of the celebrations, interviewing Egyptians and posing for photographs with people who wanted to be seen with an American journalist.
“There was a moment that everything went wrong,” she recalled.
As the cameraman, Richard Butler, was swapping out a battery, Egyptian colleagues who were accompanying the camera crew heard men nearby talking about wanting to take Ms. Logan’s pants off. She said: “Our local people with us said, ‘We’ve gotta get out of here.’ That was literally the moment the mob set on me.”
Mr. Butler, Ms. Logan’s producer, Max McClellan, and two locally hired drivers were “helpless,” Mr. Fager said, “because the mob was just so powerful.” A bodyguard who had been hired to accompany the team was able to stay with Ms. Logan for a brief period of time. “For Max to see the bodyguard come out of the pile without her, that was one of the worst parts,” Mr. Fager said. He said Ms. Logan “described how her hand was sore for days after — and the she realized it was from holding on so tight” to the bodyguard’s hand.
They estimated that they were separated from her for about 25 minutes.
“My clothes were torn to pieces,” Ms. Logan said.
She declined to go into more detail about the assault but said: “What really struck me was how merciless they were. They really enjoyed my pain and suffering. It incited them to more violence.”
Logan was rescued by a group of civilians and Egyptian soldiers and quickly flown back to the US where she was hospitalized. She decided almost immediately to speak out about sexual violence on behalf of other journalists and women and notes that, prior to the assault, she had not known about the “the levels of harassment and abuse that women in Egypt and other countries regularly experienced.” Commenting on the kindness of CBS and strangers, including high schoolers in Texas, Logan says that such communications were “very big part of picking myself up and restoring my dignity and my self-worth.”
Logan says that, while she plans to return to report from Afghanistan and other conflict zones, she will not be returning to the Middle East in the immediate future. As she says:
“The very nature of what we do — communicating information — is what’s undoing these regimes [in the Middle East]. It makes us the enemy, whether we like it or not.”
Thank you, Lara Logan, for your bravery and what you do, speaking up, “communicating information” and thereby, yes, “undoing these regimes.”
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Photo from Wikimedia Commons.