October 21, 2015 - Updated on January 20, 2016

RSF condemns attacks on journalists during anti-Islam movement’s anniversary in Dresden

At least three journalists have been attacked by so-called supporters of Pegida (a German acronym for “Patriotic Europeans against the Occident’s islamization”), during demonstrations organized on October 19th in Dresden for the first anniversary of the xenophobic movement, while a participant of a counter-demonstration assaulted a radio station staff member.
It is an alarming escalation to see Pegida’s regular chants of ‘lying press’ turning into beatings and kicks against journalists more and more frequently,” said Michael Rediske, executive member of RSF Germany’s board of directors. “Violence against journalists is unacceptable, no matter if it is perpetrated by Pegida supporters or counter-demonstrators. Now the judiciary is called upon in order to swiftly find the perpetrators and hold them accountable so that such acts of violence will not come to be considered normal.” German foreign broadcaster Deutsche Welle TV’s journalist Jaafar Abdul Karim and his camera crew wanted to capture the atmosphere among Pegida supporters when they were surrounded by protestors and obstructed in their work. Insults including “wog” (“Kanake”) were yelled at Abdul Karim. One protester hit the reporter on the neck before disappearing into the crowd. Jose Sequeira, a camera operator for the Russian video agency Ruptly, was attacked as he was filming among Pegida supporters. One perpetrator threw his equipment to the ground before six or seven men started hitting his head and back, until he managed to withdraw towards the closest police officers. A young photographer reported to the police he had been held and beaten by several people while taking pictures among Pegida supporters, according to a media report. The attackers finally took his camera and fled. An employee of Deutschlandradio suffered minor injuries from an assault by a drunk counter-protester, accusing him to promote Pegida by covering the protests. These attacks on journalists from Pegida supporters are not the first. On September 28th two journalists had been attacked during a demonstration in Dresden: A supporter of the anti-Islam movement kicked an employee of regional public broadcaster MDR, while a journalist working for the local paper Dresdner Neueste Nachrichten was hit in the face. In both incidents, the perpetrators were able to disappear into the cheering crowd before police even arrived at the scene. Journalists were also attacked or harassed during Pegida protests in other German cities, including in Leipzig on January 21st and in Braunschweig on February 2nd. On 26th January a TV crew for public broadcaster WDR was only able to report from a Pegida demonstration in Duisburg under police protection. Shortly before, extremists had published mock death notices on the internet, cynically “bemoaning” the supposed death of journalists from the region who are known to cover the neo-Nazi activities, there, critically. Germany is ranked 12th out of 180 countries in RSF's annual World Press Freedom index.