Demonstrators are seen in Basra, Iraq, on July 19, 2019. During the protest, demonstrators assaulted journalist Ayman al-Sheikh. (Reuters/Alaa Al-Marjani)

Iraqi reporter assaulted while covering protest in Basra

July 25, 2019 3:30 PM ET

On July 19, 2019, in the southern Iraqi city of Basra, a group of protesters assaulted Ayman al-Sheikh, a correspondent for the private Iraqi broadcaster Al-Sharqiyya, according to news reports and local press freedom group Press Freedom Advocacy Association in Iraq.

Al-Sheikh told the press freedom group that he was interviewing protesters involved in the al-Hikma National Movement when one of the organizers of the protest dragged, pushed, and hit him while other protesters cut off the audio cords from the Al-Sharqiyya team's cameras. Police intervened and broke up the scuffle moments after it began, as seen in a video of the attack posted by local blogger Hussien Albahad on YouTube.

A statement released by Al-Sharqiyya TV on July 20 said that the attack was initiated by people who disagreed with al-Sheik's interviewees. The video posted to YouTube shows al-Sheikh escaping from the incident without any visible bruises or injuries.

The al-Hikma National Movement, which is headed by prominent Iraqi Shia cleric and politician Ammar al-Hakim, called for demonstrations in Basra on July 19 to demand political reform, according to news reports.

CPJ sent requests for comment via messaging app to the al-Hikma National Movement and Al-Sharqiyya TV, but did not receive any response.

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