The news channel said in a statement that Sonia Dridi was attacked around 10:30 p.m. Friday after a live broadcast on a protest at the square and was later rescued by a colleague and other witnesses. France 24 did not give further details about the attack, but it said its employees were safe and sound, though "extremely shocked," and that it will file suit against unspecified assailants.
The network, which receives state funds but has editorial independence, said it and the French Embassy were working to bring Dridi back to France.
"More frightened than hurt," wrote Dridi in French on her Twitter page Saturday. Referring in English to a colleague, she tweeted: "Thanks to (at)ashrafkhalil for protecting me in (hash)Tahrir last nite. Mob was pretty intense. thanks to him I escaped from the unleashed hands."
Ashraf Khalil, who works with France 24's English language service, said the crowd was closing in on him and Dridi while they were doing live reports on a side street off Tahrir. He said the attack and rescue took about half an hour, but it felt like a lot longer.
"The crowd surged in and then it went crazy. It was basically me keeping her in a bear hug, both arms around her and face-to-face," he told The Associated Press, estimating that at least 30 men were involved. "It was hard to tell who was helping and who was groping her."
Khalil said they retreated into a fast food restaurant with a metal door, to keep her out of the reach of the attackers. He said they hustled into a car, and some men banged on it as it sped away. Some of their belongings had been stolen, he said.
"It didn't feel organized or targeted. It felt disorganized," he said. "I felt angry. I love Tahrir. I have a lot of nostalgia for Tahrir. I am still angry. I know this is not the first time this happened; it happened to other people I know. Still, it was a shock."
This incident is reminiscent of what happened to CBS's Lara Logan who was viciously attacked in Tahrir Square during the celebration of the fall of ex-dictator Hosni Mubarak; except in Lara's case she was also sexually assaulted.
Egyptian males are notorious for harassing women, with the problem apparently becoming "epidemic"- just another indication of what little respect or regard the male population has for women in that region. And it's not just Western non-Muslim tourists that are being targeted, women wearing Islamic garb are just as likely to experience harassment.
"It does not make a difference at all. Most of Egyptian ladies are veiled [with a headscarf] and most of them have experienced sexual harassment. According to activist, Dina Farid of Egypt's Girls are a Red Line:
"Statistics say that most of the women or girls who have been sexually harassed have been veiled or completely covered up with the niqab."
In 2008, a study by the Egyptian Centre for Women's Rights found that more than 80% of Egyptian women have experienced sexual harassment, and that the majority of the victims were those who wore Islamic headscarves.
So you can't blame it on the women's provocative dress, as some would like us to believe. The whole reason Muslimahs are supposed to cover themselves is precisely for that reason- to prevent men from lusting and subsequently harassing them. It just proves how bogus that is.
Maybe they feel that by harassing all women they'll force them to remain cloistered at home- that patriarchal, chauvinistic attitude that prevails among most non-Western Muslim males.
It's only going to get worse as the Muslim Brotherhood takes root, and religious conservatism becomes even more prevalent.