SYorks NUJ 0

Open letter in support of journalists under threat by the far right

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We, the undersigned, have been concerned about the threat to the freedom of journalists working on local newspapers to do their jobs because of actions by the far right and racists. Journalists working on the Doncaster Free Press and Barnsley Chronicle in South Yorkshire have been the target of abuse and threats. In both cases the people making accusations have ignored the facts in a bid to whip up hysteria around issues involving Muslims and Islamaphobia. A trainee reporter on the Doncaster Free Press has been the victim of a campaign of vile and vicious abuse that has included threats to kill her, throw acid in her face and rape her because she was - wrongly - accused of damaging flowers left as tributes to the soldier Lee Rigby who was attacked and killed in London. This was as a result of an incident at a demonstration in Sheffield against an attempt by the EDL to march. Because EDL supporters could not reach the central war memorial, they threw several bunches of flowers over police lines towards the counter-demonstration. They landed in or near a fountain. The woman they wrongly identified from a video as the reporter did nothing wrong or disrespectful. Both attempts at demonstrating in Sheffield by the EDL were opposed by sizable demonstrations. Newspaper management closed the offices for a day following police advice because of the threat to staff safety. The reporter has had to work from home as her safety cannot be guaranteed, despite police confirming that it was not her in the video. The Barnsley Chronicle has been targeted for abuse over a report about a soldier who was attacked.The newspaper was repeatedly accused of covering up that a group of Asian men were the attackers, when they were described as white men by the victim’s mother. We pledge to support journalists and others facing such threats and agree to oppose and expose racist and fascist organisations, including the EDL, wherever they raise their heads in our communities.

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