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News teams attacked while covering protests

(SKeyes/IFEX) - 25 January 2011 - SKeyes Center for Media and Cultural Freedom strongly condemns the attacks that journalists were subjected to in several areas in Lebanon. The incidents occurred in Tripoli and in two areas in Beirut, Cola and Tariek Al-Jadede, on 25 January 2011. Demonstrators were angry over the appointment of Najib Mikati, a wealthy Sunni businessman, as Lebanon's prime minister-designate.

SKeyes demands that the Lebanese Security Forces ensure that all journalists are protected. It also appeals to the people who are leading the protesters to refrain from attacks on the media based on their political affiliation. SKeyes also promises journalists that their voices will be heard all over the world through international organisations that take an active role in protecting them.

An Aljazeera news team was attacked by protesters at Al-Noor square in Tripoli, northern Lebanon. The team included journalists Majed Abed Al-hadi and Wissam Mawed, camera operators Elie Brakhia and Omar Itani, and technician Nazih Elsedik. The Aljazeera crew was accompanied by a New TV (Lebanese television) news team, made up of journalists Malek El-Sharef and Ramez Al-kadi, camera operator Mohamad Barbar and his assistant Ali Shaaban.

The protesters set fire to Aljazeera's broadcast van. The journalists who were inside the van fled to a nearby building, where they were besieged for 30 minutes. The protesters then attempted to set the entrance of the building on fire. Finally, the Lebanese army was able to evacuate the building, bringing the journalists to safety.

In Cola area (Beirut), cameraman Mohamad Al-Shaeli of The National Agency of Information was attacked by protesters, who prevented him from continuing his work. On more than one occasion, demonstrators prevented Adnan Gamloush, a correspondent for Al Arabia TV, from covering the story.

In Tariek Al-Jadede (Beirut), demonstrators attacked an NBN TV (Lebanese television) crew with stones and smashed some of their equipment. Correspondent Rasha Alzain suffered injuries to her face after the protesters tried to remove her veil.

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