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Canada23 April 2007

Weekly journalist on Pakistani paper beaten with cricket bat

Reporters Without Borders today condemned an assault on journalist Jawaad Faizi on Urdu-language community weekly The Pakistan Post, in Mississauga, Ontario province, south-eastern Canada by two men who threatened further violence unless he stopped writing “against Islam”. His family has also suffered harassment.

Faizi was attacked on 17 April as he was leaving the home of the editor of The Pakistan Post, Amir Arain. He was getting into his car when one of them smashed the windscreen and then beat him with a cricket bat.

They threatened further violence if he continued writing “against Islam” and criticising the Islamic aid organisation Idara Minhaj-ul-Quran. The organisation, which has its headquarters in Lahore, Pakistan, has offices in 17 countries and a representative in Toronto, the capital of Ontario.

Faizi, who was left with an arm injury, was unable to work for two days. He told Reporters Without Borders that he was “certain Idara Minhaj-ul-Quran was behind the reprisals” against him.

He added that the day after the assault, he received a phone call from the administration of the school attended by his three children asking him to keep them at home. He said he was “worried” for his family.

The evening before the attack, Faizi and his editor had reported to the police that they had received threatening phone calls. Amir Arain had already received threats in December 2004, when he exposed the alleged involvement of some leading members of the Pakistani community in Canada in a drugs case.

“The blows and threats against Jawaad Faizi give rise to fears for the safety of foreign journalists in the very heart of their own community,” the worldwide press freedom organisation said.

“Freedom of expression cannot be compromised and no community, cultural, ethnic or religious justification can excuse violating it. We urge the authorities in Ontario to take this case seriously and to quickly punish those behind this assault,” it added.

The Pakistan Post was founded in 1993 by Mahammad Faruqi and serves the Pakistani residents of North America. It sells 50,000 copies a week in Canada and 25,000 in the United States.

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