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Editor of socialist newspaper target of arson attack

(MAHARAT/IFEX) - Maharat Foundation denounces the threatening arson attack directed against the property of journalist Aziz El Metni, the editor in chief of "Al-Anbaa" newspaper. Maharat Foundation and other observers consider this a deliberate act of intimidation against El Metni, in response to his work as a journalist.

On the evening of 20 January 2008, El Metni's car was set on fire as it sat parked in front of his residence in the Cornet Shehwan neighbourhood in Mount Lebanon region, located 15 km from the capital, Beirut. El Metni was in his apartment at the time. Police have initiated an investigation.

"Al-Anbaa" is the official mouthpiece of the Lebanese socialist party, lead by Mr. Walid Jumblat. El Metni recently wrote an article, published on 8 January, entitled: "The hidden card and the pocket with the hole: No forced partnership and no ruling with sabotage and traps", in which he strongly criticized the Lebanese opposition.

In recent months, threats against journalists have become commonplace in Lebanon as the security situation in the country has deteriorated. Lebanon's ranking in the area of freedom of speech has also declined in recent years as the result of the increased incidence of attacks on journalists. Such targeting of journalists clearly violates Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which guarantees freedom of speech and opinion.

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