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IPA VP hails support after Egyptian offices attacked
03.02.11 | Lisa Campbell
The offices of the vice-president of the International Publishers' Association came under attack in Egypt because publishing is a method freedom of speech in the troubled country, he has claimed.
The premises of Ibrahim El Moallem, who owns the Al Shorouk media company that comprises a publisher, newspaper and bookshop, is near the site of the country’s demonstrations in Cairo’s Tahrir Square and came under siege from a weapon-wielding mob yesterday.
The aggressors were thought to be supporters of the Egyptian prime minister Hosni Mubarak- who is facing increasing calls for his immediate resignation after nearly 30 years of leading the country.
Amidst increasing violence yesterday between protestors and the president’s supporters, plainclothed men used guns, knives and tear gas to try and storm El Moallem’s building, according to an eyewitness report given to The Bookseller. However, local residents and office security guards defended the site and prevented the mob from entering.
El Moallem told The Bookseller he was targeted for what his bookstore and newspaper represent. “We are an independent newspaper which is trying to tell the complete truth, and trying to explain to the country what is going on. People associate books with trying to provide people with the freedom of speech and dignity- which is a requirement of democracy. That is also what the mob wanted to attack yesterday,” he said.
He added he had received countless messages of support from publishers across the world, including in Britain, India and Arab countries. The IPA yesterday tweeted messages @ipasecretary in support of its vice president, saying El Moallem is worried "the Egyptian government is now resorting to violence to suppress the newly gained freedoms".
El Moallem said: “Publishers everywhere, many people from the IPA, are supporting us, the country and the fight for the freedom of expression and we are very grateful for this.”
The IPA vice president added the building was currently being reinforced and more guards were on patrol in case of another attack. “We do not know if they will try again,” he said.