Protesters swarm Pakistan newspaper offices over London Bridge report

Protesters swarm Pakistan newspaper offices over London Bridge report

Dozens of Islamists have swarmed the building of the independent Pakistani newspaper Dawn in Islamabad, blocking its entrance for several hours, threatening staff and demanding that its editor should be hanged.

A simultaneous protest also took place on Tuesday evening in the southern port city of Karachi, where Islamists gathered at the Press Club, calling for Dawn’s editor Zaffar Abbas and publisher Hameed Haroon to be hanged.

The demonstrators, who later dispersed, were angered after the English language paper reported that the London Bridge attacker was of “Pakistani origin”.

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

Demonstrators were angered by the description of the London Bridge attacker of being ‘of Pakistani origin’ (AP)
Demonstrators were angered by the description of the London Bridge attacker of being ‘of Pakistani origin’ (AP)

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 board chair at Committee to Protest Journalists.

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

Cyril Almeida, a journalist working for Dawn, 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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