Newspaper director attacked in Rabat

FEBRUARY 3, 2008
Posted March 3, 2008

Rachid Niny, Al-Massae

Rachid Niny, director of publication for the daily Al-Massae, told CPJ that around 8 p.m., three assailants attacked him very close to Al-Rabat al-Madina train station. He said the men, one of whom had a knife, came up behind him and started violently beating him. Niny grabbed the blade of the knife with his left hand to prevent the assailant from stabbing him.

Niny said the assailants took his laptop, two cell phones, and documents, before fleeing the scene. They did not take his money or leather jacket, he said. Authorities launched an investigation into the attack.

Niny told CPJ that he cannot confirm whether his attackers were common thieves or had purposefully targeted him because of his journalism. He added that there were other people nearby and that the area where he was attacked is usually well-guarded and patrolled by police, but at the time not a single police officer was in sight.

A journalist familiar with the case told CPJ that he suspected the perpetrators did not target Niny because of a journalism-related reason. He said the attack took place in public and the thieves grabbed his laptop bag because it was the easiest item to take. He added that on Sundays, which was the day of the attack, the station tends to be far less busy and there are usually only a couple of police officers patrolling. At the time of the attack, he said, the police officers were in the midst of changing shifts.

The Casablanca-based daily, which is leading newspaper in Morocco, is often critical of the government. The attack comes on the heels of four libel lawsuits launched against the paper.