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France12 March 2004

Three journalists attacked while reporting on a Koranic school

Members of a Koranic School physically attacked three television journalists who were filming a report on the school for the programme "90 Minutes", on the privately owned Canal+.

Reporters Without Borders strongly condemned the attack on 11 March against soundman Jérôme Florenville, cameraman Jean-Yves Charpin, and reporter Hervé Bouchaud.

The programme’s editor Paul Moreira said that four or five members of the Koranic school, run in a castle at Grisy-Suisnes, Seine-et-Marne, northern France, set upon the film crew as they were filming the building from the street.

While the cameraman and journalist were only slightly hurt, Florenville, who was struck with a pick handle, needed emergency hospital treatment for multiple fractures of the nose and facial bones. He was to be examined by specialists to check if there was damage to his optical nerve or retina, in which case he could risk losing his sight in one eye.

Moreira said the crew had been working on an investigation for six months on the proselytising Muslim Tabligh movement. The school had refused to co-operate with the report, which is due to be shown in April.

The international press freedom organisation said the assault on journalists, who were simply doing their job, was completely unacceptable. It called for their assailants to be severely punished as an example to those who felt they could attack journalists with impunity to stop them reporting on particularly sensitive issues.

Officers from the Coubert Gendarmerie arrested five assailants. The journalists and Canal + have both laid official complaints.

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