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Journalist attacked, injured, following threats over reporting on religious organisation and its leader

(CJFE/IFEX) - The following is a CJFE press release:

Canadian Journalists for Free Expression appalled at attack on journalist in Mississauga, Canada

(Toronto, April 19, 2007) CJFE is appalled and shocked by the news that journalist Jawaad Faizi was attacked in Mississauga, Ontario on the evening of April 17. Faizi works for the Mississauga-based newspaper, The Pakistan Post.

Jawaad Faizi describes being attacked by two men in his car outside the home of his Editor, Amir Arain. Two men, one armed with a cricket bat, smashed the car windows and hit Faizi inside the car. When they saw Faizi call 911 on his cell phone, they fled the scene. Paramedics and police, and his editor arrived soon afterwards.

According to Jawaad Faizi, the two men threatened him and said that he should cease writing against Islam, and against the Pakistan-based religious organisation, Idara Minhaj-ul-Quran, and its leader, Cleric Allama Tahir-Ul-Qadri. Allama Tahir-Ul-Qadri is a frequent visitor to Canada.

Both Arain and Faizi have received telephoned threats previous to this attack, and, in fact, on Monday, April 16, they filed a complaint with the police, and had also informed police about other threats they received in January. Police say that they cannot comment on the status of the investigation, but because of the nature of the attack this will probably be sent to the Criminal Investigation Unit and the Diversity Relations Unit.

"That this attack happened here in Canada is of great concern to us," said CJFE Executive Director Anne Game. "We call on the police to treat this matter extremely seriously and ensure that a full investigation into the attack is initiated immediately."

The attack, which sent Jawaad Faizi to hospital for treatment of injuries to his left arm, has caused him to miss two days of work. And on Wednesday, he received a call from the Vice-Principal of the school his three children attend, asking him to keep them at home, as they may pose a security risk.

Faizi states that he would be able to identify his attackers, which may put him at even greater risk of further attacks. In a phone interview with CJFE, Jawaad said "I had so many problems back home [in Lahore, Pakistan] as a journalist, but I'm shocked that this is happening here."

CJFE is very concerned about the nature of this attack and the potential chill on journalists writing about faith-based issues. This is a cautionary tale for us, and points to the need for vigilance in the protection of press freedom not just in other countries, but in Canada as well.

Canadian Journalists for Free Expression (CJFE) is an association of more than 300 journalists, editors, publishers, producers, students and others who work to promote and defend free expression and press freedom in Canada and around the world.

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