Protests against newspaper's London Bridge report

Wednesday, December 4, 2019

Protesters have swarmed the offices of an independent Pakistani newspaper, angered by a report it published that said the London Bridge terrorist was of “Pakistani origin”.

The demonstrators blocked the entrance to the building of English language paper Dawn in Islamabad for several hours, threatening staff and demanding that its editor Zaffar Abbas should be hanged.

A simultaneous protest at the Press Club in the southern city of Karachi also saw people gathering to call for the hanging of Mr Abbas and publisher Hameed Haroon.

It was after the paper reported that London Bridge attacker Usman Khan, who killed two people and injured three others, was of “Pakistani origin”.

The protest has been condemned by Pakistani rights groups, journalists’ organisations, politicians and members of civil society advocating for the rights of reporters.

In a statement, the Committee to Protect Journalists urged Pakistan to prevent protests against the newspaper from turning violent and investigate death threats to its staff.

“Pakistanis have every right to object to and demonstrate against the Dawn newspaper over its coverage, but threatening violence steps way over the line,” said Kathleen Carroll, the committee’s board chairwoman.

The newspaper has a history of strained ties with the country's military.

Cyril Almeida, one of its journalists, was charged with treason last year after an interview with former prime minister Nawaz Sharif in which he accused the military of aiding the militants who had carried out the 2008 Mumbai terrorist attacks.

Last month, Mr Abbas was awarded the 2019 Press Freedom Award by the Committee to Protect Journalists.

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