A press freedom group has denounced the “unacceptable” injury of an award-winning Syrian photojournalist during a Paris protest against police brutality.
Ameer Alhalbi, a freelance photographer who worked for Polka Magazine and AFP, was covering the weekend demonstrations opposing police violence and the French government’s new law restricting sharing images of officers.
In AFP photos Alhalbi’s face appears bruised with much of his head covered in bandages.
Christophe Deloire, secretary general of Reporters Without Borders, tweeted that the 24-year-old had been wounded at Place de la Bastille by “a police baton” and condemned the violence.
“Ameer came from #Syria to #France to take refuge, like several other Syrian journalists. The land of human rights should not threaten them, but protect them,” he said in a second tweet.
Mr Deloire also noted Alhalbi had been clearly identified as a journalist.
Dimitri Beck, director of photography for Polka, said that Alhalbi had suffered a broken nose and injured forehead, and had been taken to hospital.
Alhalbi has won several international awards, including second prize in the “Spot News” category for the World Press Photo in 2017, mainly for his coverage of the Syrian conflict in his home city Aleppo for AFP.
Police said Sunday that two demonstrators had complained of being hurt by officers in protests outside Paris, while no count had yet been made in the capital itself.
Some 62 police officers were injured during the Saturday demonstrations, the interior ministry said, while 81 people were arrested.
A number of videos shared online showed marchers beating police officers, with France’s Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin earlier condemning “unacceptable” violence against the police.
The interior ministry said 133,000 people had taken part in the demonstrations, 46,000 of them in Paris, while organisers said the figure was 500,000 nationwide and 200,000 in Paris.
The protests came after President Emmanuel Macron said late Friday that the images of the beating of black music producer Michel Zecler by police officers in Paris last weekend “shame us”. The incident had magnified concerns about alleged systemic racism in the police force.
An investigation has been opened against the four police involved but commentators say that the images – first published by the Loopsider news site – may never have been made public if the government’s contentious new security legislation becomes law.
The legilsation would criminalise the publication of images of on-duty police officers with the intent of harming their “physical or psychological integrity”. It was passed by the National Assembly although it is awaiting Senate approval.