One media worker killed, many injured in violent protest against anti-Islam film
Violent protests that erupted against the anti-Islam film “Innocence of Muslims” took a heavy toll on media professionals in Pakistan. One media worker was killed and many others were injured as they covered the protests that turned violent in many cities of the country.
Muhammad Aamir Liaqat, 33, “ARY News” television driver killed when police opened fire on demonstrators staging a violent protest outside a cinema on September 21, 2012 in Peshawar, the capital city of Khyber-Paakhtoonkhwa province against the anti-Islamic video “Innocence of Muslims.”
Liaqat received bullet in his chest when he was trying to reach the place where police was targeting protesters with live rounds to protect a cinema. Three rounds hit the vehicle and one of them struck Liaqat. He was rushed to a hospital, where he died. He leaf behind three sons (one only seven days old) and a widow. Liaqat had been associated with the ARY television channel since 2007.
Protesters also attacked Peshawar Press Club (PPC) and broke all CCTV cameras by pelting the stones. They damaged windowpanes and main gate also.
Khyber Union of Journalists (KhUJ) and other Journalists held demonstration at PPC against the killing of Liaqat. Meanwhile, PPC president Saiful Islam and KhUJ president Arshad Aziz Malik condemned the police brutality and demanded immediate arrest of the policemen involved.
The media was also targeted during similar protests in other cities. A “Samaa TV” crew was attacked while covering a protest in Karachi and their news van was set on fire. Protesters also attacked five cinemas namely Nishat, Bambino, Capri, Gulistan and Prince Cinema and set them on fire.
Rai Shahnawaz, the correspondent for Express News television station in Lahore, the capital city of Punjab province told PPF that he along with the senior correspondent of same TV station Talib Faridi received head injury after being hit by a stone thrown by protesters. . He said the police also broke the camera and tripod stand of a cameraman and slapped another cameraman in order to stop covering the riots.
In Hyderabad, the second largest city of Sindh province, journalists were beaten and dragged by the protesters complaining that they are not being given proper coverage and moaning that the media was giving coverage to a particular group of protesters and was ignoring them. In Hyderabad, at least six journalists were beaten, dragged and pelted with stones. Two motorcycles, one belonging to a reporter Abdul Qadir and another of cameraman Adnan Zai, were set ablaze while the rioters also ransacked the press club’s reception before they were pushed out. Furqan Rajput, correspondent for “Express News” told PPF that the assailants hit him with batons, kicked him and dragged him on the footpath. He received injuries in his legs, chest and head. Protesters were shouting that he deserved this because the media is an associate of the enemies of Islam. Rajput was saved by other religious group activists, he said.
Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)