Protest by local journalists following an attack on a reporter

Only after coming to office on Thursday morning, i got to know that a journalist was the latest alleged victim of ongoing violance in Malé. One of my coworker who himself had been a former journalist, rushed to attend a gathering by the local journalist. It took place in front of the  Shiheedhu Hussain Adam Building, the city’s main Police Building.

Later, he gave me a ring and invited me to come over; I asked him, “what is the big deal?” and he replayed saying all the journalists were gathering in front of Police HQ to protest against widespread violence in the Maldives following an attack on a local journalist. I told him, “why should I show my solidarity here, since I am no longer working as a damn journalist”.

Journalists holding placards saying "stop attacking media"

From my point of view, I largely regard it as a stunt performed by local journalists. The victim, Mohamed Sodiq a journalist with MNBC is in fact not a hardcore journalist.

Sodiq first joined as a News Caster and after some times he was transferred to Programmes, where he use to make various entertainment and feature programmes. It is said that starting from this year, he is working with the MNBC Sports team.

According to Minivan News, “Sodiq with the Maldives National Broadcasting Corporation (MNBC) was released from hospital after suffering a two-inch gash on his hand in a knife attack early this morning”.

Quoting Police Sub-Inspector Ahmed Shiyam, Minivan News reported that Mohamed Sodiq was attacked by two men on a motorcycle and the attack was not serious. Shiyam added that police were currently unable to say whether the attack was connected with Sodiq’s work, gang-related, or a random assault.

Since Sodiq is covering or reporting on much relaxed football season of the country and it is very much unlikely to say that this attack was work related. It could be an attack mistakenly given to a wrong person either or deliberately targeted to him due to possible vague personal matters of him. If this is the  situation, how could we link this attack to ongoing series of gang related violence.

…..of course, my sympathy is with him. I don’t want to see any kind of bloodshed on our soil. Luckily here this poor guy sustain only minimal injuries.

Nevertheless, I found by midday some of Sodiq’s colleagues and some well-known journalists from other media outlets, much latent Maldives Media Council members and some of the NGOs advocating for the rights of journalists gathering up in front of Police HQ. They were holding placards saying “stop assaulting Journalists”, “give more protection to Journalists” and so on. There were more than two dozens of journalists. Full coverage was given into this through TV/Radio channels and newspapers and eventually delegates from journalists met with the Police Commissioner Faseeh.

It’s amazing to see kind of authority these guys possesses. Whenever they want, they can protest, create public spotlight and accomplish their demands as well. Whereas, general public are powerless to do anything to protect their family members who have been recently subjected to gang related violence.

Some critics commented on daily newspapers did state that this is not an event that should be escalated to this far by holding protests in front of Police HQ. If they genuinely want to create publicity into this it would have been better to bring the families who lost their loved ones in the gang fightings

An isolated incident like this one cannot be counted as an intimidation to journalists while it is yet be proof whether it has any link to his work or not. I have heard, during mob violence and political street protests very often media were not given enough corporations by police. And in many occasions journalists get injured or hurt in the forefront of a protest, while NGOs like MJA issuing press releases denouncing alleged suppression by police towards journalists. I believe those events were the right occasions for journalists’ to hold protests.

I urge journalists to show responsible approaches in all the spheres particularly when similar kind of things happened.

note: this article was written on 21 April 2011