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France20 March 2002

Photographer attacked by a Jewish extremist

Reporters Without Borders (Reporters sans frontières - RSF) protested today against the failure by French riot police to protect a photographer working for the daily newspaper Libération from an attack by a Jewish extremist during a demonstration in Paris.

RSF secretary-general Robert Ménard called on French interior minister Daniel Vaillant to investigate and find those responsible. He expressed surprise that the police, who were physically holding the photographer when he was attacked, had not defended him and said it was "not right" that extremist groups could attack journalists without any reaction by the police.

He noted that RSF had denounced such behaviour in the past and cited its protest in 1999 when journalists of the TV station Télé Bocal were attacked by security guards of the far-right group Action Française and also its protests against some 20 attacks on journalists over the years by security guards of the far-right Front National party.

The attack on the photographer took place on 18 March at the Palais des Sports stadium in Paris at the annual gathering of the Association for the Welfare of the Israeli Soldier and held "in honour of the Israeli army." The press, who were not invited to the event, assembled outside the stadium. The photographer, whose professional name is simply "Meyer", was standing near a group protesting against the occasion, and was grabbed by CRS riot police when an argument broke out between the protesters and members of the extremist Jewish youth group Betar.

Although he said he was a Libération photographer, police took him towards the extremists. When he protested, the police lifted him away, but not before a member of Betar punched him in the face and fled without being pursued by the CRS. Meyer needed three stitches for his wound.

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