Assault on TV crews in follow-up to Paris terror attacks

By Jane Whyatt

Two TV crews have been assaulted as they tried to interview family members of  a suicide bomber involved in the Paris attacks on December 13th 2015... which left 39 people dead.  

The crews, from  RTL-TV1 and France 3, were reporting at the home address in Molenbeek-Saint-Jean, Belgium, of Chakib Akrouh. He has been identified as one of three terrorists who opened fire on bars and restaurants in the  French capital before blowing himself up.

RTL has published footage of the assault on its crew. Watch here (in French):

And the network has screened a debate with leading journalists discussing the question: "Can journalists still do their job?"

The debate starts with a interview clip with Jean-Pierre Martin, a senior reporter who a few weeks ago was in Syria covering the battle for Raqqa – the capital of the self-declared Islamic State.

Jean Pierre Martin RTL Belgium Jean Pierre Martin: reporter at RTL-TVI. Screenshot: RTL TVI

Back in Belgium, he describes how he had tried to contact the family of Chakib Akrouh. He explains that he wanted to talk to the family "in order to better understand his personality and what was in his mind when he made the attacks".

On arriving at the family home, Martin says he had a brief conversation through the entryphone, but only received insults. Then Akrouh's brother came out of the house, knocked Martin to the ground and started beating him up before the France 3 camera operator came to his rescue.

The Association of Professional Journalists (AJP) has condemned the violence.

In a press release they say: "The violence used by the aggressors to prevent the journalists from doing their jobs must be condemned without reservation. The AJP supports the journalists in their civil action, complaining that they were beaten and injured."

„The AJP insists that there should not be any ‚no go zones’ where journalists are not allowed access. In reporting on terrorism - as on any other theme - journalists are not ‚the enemy’ but they strive, often in difficult working conditions, to explain the facts and to provide complete information to the public.“

In a statement on their website, the managers of RTL Belgium confirm that - in spite of the difficulties - they are continuing their editorial mission.

Twitter: Charles Michel The Prime Minister of Belgium, Charles Michel, via Twitter.

Jane Whyat, project manager at ECPMF