International Federation of Journalists condemns violent assault on Bahrain editor

August 26, 2010

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) on Thursday condemned the violent assault on Muhannad Abu Zeitoun, managing editor of Al Watan newspaper by two unidentified men.

“We are deeply shocked by this vicious assault and possible assassination attempt against a leading Bahraini journalist,” said Aidan White, IFJ General Secretary. “The authorities must do everything they can to bring the attackers to justice and guarantee the safety of Bahrain’s journalists.”

Abu Zeitoun, a Palestinian, was attacked by two assailants as he was leaving Al Watan newspaper in the East Riffa area, south of Manama at around 3 am on Wednesday. One attacker hit him with a sharp object while the second one threw a Molotov cocktail to torch his car. Abu Zeitoun who fought off the attackers said that he did not recognize them.

“The IFJ, which has opened an office in the kingdom to promote its Ethical  Journalism Initiative campaign is concerned that Bahraini journalists who are spearheading professional and independent journalism in the region may face intimidation from forces determined to hold them back,” the Brussels-based federation of 600,000 journalists worldwide, said. “We support journalists in Bahrain as they assert their right to ethical and independent reporting. We assure them of our solidarity in their fight against all forms of violence and intimidation.”

Bahrain Journalists Association (BJA) on Wednesday condemned the assault as a “despicable act that would not allow terrorism to prevail over reason.”

“We express our full solidarity with all journalists as they confront despicable acts of terrorism,” BJA said. “The matter should be taken seriously and the assailants should be brought to justice.”

According to the association of Bahrain-based journalists, the local press will not be intimidated by the attack

“We deeply deplore the attack, but it will not in any way affect the journalists’ commitment to their mission and to fighting terrorism, vandalism and sabotage. There is strong commitment to resisting and exposing all agendas targeting Bahrain’s stability and security as it moves forward,” the association said.

Al Watan was launched in December 2005.

Attacks on journalists are extremely rare in Bahrain. A bomb was placed under the cars of the editor in chief and editor of Al Ayam, a liberal newspaper, in the 1990s during the unrest that afflicted Bahrain. The homemade devices exploded while Nabeel Al Hamer and Eisa Al Shayji were inside the newspaper building.



About the author

Born August 3, 1960 in Monastir, Tunisia
Media career:
  • ABC News (Tunisia)
  • Bahrain Tribune
  • Gulf News
  • Bahrain Television News
Teaching career:
  • Monastir (Tunisia)
  • University of Bahrain
  • MA  Mass Communications, University of Leicester
  • BA  in English & US literature and studies, University of Tunis

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