Information Minister Manal Abdel-Samad said Monday that she will ask security forces to step up their protection of journalists, after media workers were injured while covering the weekend's protests.
“What happened on [June] 6 was repeated on June 11 and 12, with some young people damaging public and private property, and also hurting some media workers,” Abdel-Samad told local TV channel NBN.
“The media is always a scapegoat. I will ask at Cabinet’s meeting for journalists to be protected by security services during the coverage of events,” she added.
Several journalists were injured after demonstrators in Beirut and Tripoli toward the end of last week.
Local press freedom NGO Samir Kassir Eyes reported that at least six journalists were attacked while covering protests Thursday and Friday.
Al-Jadeed reporter Layal Saad was hit in the head with a stone in central Beirut Friday. A protester also threw a stone directly at LBCI correspondent Raneem Bou Khzam that night in Beirut.
Rioters harassed MTV reporter Joyce Akiki in central Beirut Thursday night as they were burning a bank. They allegedly took the microphone from her hand and cursed the channel, while grabbing the camera to prevent filming.
A Military Intelligence officer also tried twice to hit journalist Elsy Moufarrej outside the Justice Palace in Beirut as she was trying to film the officer attacking an activist. AFP journalist Dylan Collins was also prevented from filming a scuffle in front of the Burj al-Ghazal building in Beirut.
In Tripoli, MTV reporter Alain Dergham was hit in the foot with a stone.
Abdel-Samad said that she “rejects attacks on any media worker” and that she had called an emergency meeting of the National Media Council to find out what happened.
She echoed Prime Minister Hassan Diab’s assertion that the protests were being steered off course by party partisans.
“What happened June 6 last was anticipated ... There is no doubt that we went over a number of possible bumps and that may come again, so we must be proactive and we must prevent infiltrators from exploiting the worthy goals of the [protest] movement,” she said.
Diab made a thinly veiled attack on former Prime Minister Saad Hariri’s Future Movement Saturday, implying that party activists had “pumped rumors and caused a major crisis that pushed people into the street.”
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