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France8 April 2002

Journalists attacked by Jewish extremists during demonstration

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) called today on a state prosecutor to punish physical attacks on journalists made by Jewish extremists during a demonstration in Paris on 7 April. It asked the prosecutor of the Paris magistrates court, Jean-Pierre Dintilhac, to investigate the incidents and identify those responsible.

Journalists were verbally insulted and physically attacked during the demonstration by Jewish organisations, which was very hostile to the media, with some protesters chanting and carrying placards and banners saying: "LCI, fundamentalist TV station "No to disinformation on TV", "AFP, French pro-Palestinian propaganda agency." The media were also accused of "twisting" the news "in favour of Arafat."

TV and radio journalists, as well as photographers, were the main targets of physical attacks because their equipment made them easier to spot. RSF learns that Inigo Horcajuelo, a cameraman of the Spanish TV station Antena 3, was beaten up by members of a security force who were wearing armbands. An Antena 3 staffer, Carmen Vergara, said the cameraman was attacked and his film seized as he was filming a group of demonstrators beating up a youth. The journalist was bruised and had to spend three hours in hospital. Ten of the 14 journalists and technicians of the France 2 TV crews covering the demonstrations were set upon, including journalist Pascal Doucet-Bon. Racist insults were hurled at one cameraman, from Guadeloupe, and the technicians’ van was saved from attack by the intervention of police.

Christophe Ferrier, a photographer for the Internet website, was attacked and kicked to the ground by three or four people who tried to grab his film when the demonstration was in the Place de la Bastille. He was led out of the crowd by a member of the demonstration’s security force. Soon afterwards, a girl wearing a t-shirt of the extremist Jewish youth movement Betar, tried to snatch his equipment and film.

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