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Protesters attack journalists, smash their equipment

(SKeyes/IFEX) - A group of protesters attacked several journalists and cameramen who were covering anti-sectarian demonstrations in the city of Sidon on 3 April 2011. The journalists were beaten and insulted.

Protesters smashed the equipment of Al-Manar cameraman Ameen Chomar, and assaulted Mohammed Zaatari, a correspondent for the "Daily Star" and Associated Press. The journalists were finally forced to withdraw from the scene.

The journalists were targeted when they attempted to cover a dispute among the protesters. Liberation and Development bloc member MP Qassem Hashem was rushed by angry protesters who chanted slogans such as "MP of the Baath, you are not welcome". (The Baath party is a secular political party, mixing Arab nationalist and Arab socialist interests. It is opposed to what it sees as "Western imperialism" and calls for the "renaissance" or "resurrection" of the Arab World and its unity in one united state).

Chomar told SKeyes that although the protesters were leftist, they belonged (vs: belong) to different factions, including the Communist party, the Popular Nasserite Organizations, and supporters of former MP Najah Wakim, which resulted in disputes among them.

According to the cameraman, "We were doing our duty and covering the events and the news until the protesters prevented us from continuing our work. They put their hands on the camera to prevent it from recording, and some of them told me what to capture . . . the major problem occurred when MP Hashem arrived and part of the protesters didn't want him in the protest. They started fighting among each other and when the media tried to cover what was happening they started beating us and smashing our equipment."

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