I’lam sends a letter to the Minister of Internal Security warning of harm to working journalists
In the wake of the attack on our colleague, photo journalist Zuheir Mata, I’lam Media Center sent a formal letter to Yitzhak Aharonovich, Minister of Internal Security, warning him of mistreatment and dangers faced by journalists and urging him to follow-up and investigate the case.
Mata’s camera was damaged on 27 April 2014 in the destroyed Arab village of Al-Bassa. He was documenting a baptism ceremony held in the village’s Greek Orthodox Church, one of the few pre-1948 buildings still standing.
Writing to Aharonovich, I’lam noted the seriousness of the racially motivated incident: in addition to the physical attack, the events of April 27th ultimately defy freedom of the press, freedom of expression and the public’s right to information.
The altercation occurred when residents from Shlomi, the Jewish town built over parts of al-Bassa, aggressively drove towards the ceremony beeping car horns, until they eventually confronting the group at the Church.
In an interview with a colleague, Mata noted that he “has encountered many different manifestations of racism, but did not expect this to happen to [him] personally.” Describing the event he said, “while photographing in the Church, I was surprised by a woman who seemed to be on the attack heading towards me. She cracked my camera and pushed me.”
Mata, who has filed a police complaint against his attacker, said that she was accompanied by a group of religious Jews who were “demonstrating against our right to pray in the church,” cursing and calling worshippers “Christian killers” among other slurs.
The woman who attacked Mata, has filed a complaint with the police over the protest, claiming that she was subjected to sectarian abuse by the group of demonstrators and believed the demonstration to have been illegal.