BERLIN: The German Federation of Journalists union called on authorities yesterday to prosecute those responsible for attacks on reporters at an anti-Islam rally in the eastern city of Dresden.
At least three journalists were assaulted by people taking part in the rally organized by the group calling itself Patriotic Europeans against the Islamization of the West, or PEGIDA.
Participants at Monday's rally, which marked the group's first anniversary, chanted slogans denouncing immigrants, the government and journalists, including "Lying press, smash their faces!" Hendrik Zoerner, a spokesman for the German Federation of Journalists, said the union had observed a growing willingness among PEGIDA protesters to attack journalists over the past year, and a reluctance of bystanders to step in.
"Sadly, the authorities aren't doing enough either," Zoerner said. "We've repeatedly noted that police aren't acting against those who attack journalists." He cited similar violent incidents at two previous PEGIDA rallies in the past month.
German broadcaster Deutsche Welle said one of its reporters, Jaafar Abdul Karim, was hit in the neck by protesters as he and two colleagues were trying to conduct interviews. The Berlin-based news agency Ruptly said one of its cameramen was attacked by neo-Nazis, who also broke his camera. Dresden police spokesman Thomas Geithner said a photographer also reported being attacked by four PEGIDA protesters and having his camera stolen.
Prosecutors said they were still waiting for police reports on the attacks, which also included clashes between PEGIDA protesters and counter-demonstrators. A spokesman for the Dresden prosecutors, Lorenz Haase, said a criminal complaint alleging incitement had been received about remarks made by PEGIDA speaker and author Akif Pirincci suggesting that refugees should be put in concentration camps.
"The atmosphere that is being created there is the problem," German Justice Minister Heiko Maas told public broadcaster ARD, calling the events in Dresden "deeply troubling." PEGIDA representatives didn't immediately respond to requests for comment. - AP