Middle East

Pro-regime journalists receive death threats

Azer’s field reporting has been widely criticized on social media.

BEIRUT: Two members of Syria’s pro-regime media have received abuse and death threats following their recent reporting on devastated areas of the country’s capital.

Opposition websites and social media have been highlighting the report by Micheline Azer at the scene of the weekend massacre in the Damascus suburb of Daraya, which is believed to have claimed the lives of several hundred people.

One YouTube video that was posted on her report has received more than 150,000 views since it was uploaded Sunday – at several points during the video, captions and arrows point out to viewers that Azer is asking for comments from severely injured people who are lying next to their dead relatives. She asks who was responsible for the killing but does not receive clear answers.

Opposition activists are outraged that she and her news team appear to make no attempt to provide first aid to the victims. Many of the comments on Azer involve death threats and promises that she will receive “punishment sooner or later.”

A graphic political cartoon of the incident has also circulated, featuring a sinister-looking Azer interviewing a small child who lies atop her dead mother, asking, “Who did this to you, darling?” In the background are several evil-looking government soldiers.

The Syrian regime and the opposition have accused each other of being responsible for the massacre.

Meanwhile, a reporter from Al-Ikhbariya government news channel, Karim Shaybani, has received similar abuse and criticism on social media, for “dancing” while conducting interviews at the Daraya site.

An amateur video shot from a distance shows Shaybani as he speaks with a purported eyewitness to the massacre. During the interview, Shaybani stands with a hand thrust into his pocket, and on two occasions does light limbering up or “dancing” motions, which aroused the ire of many commentators.

The video also claims that Shaybani manipulated the witness’s testimony, since he appears to halt the interview to discuss with the man before resuming the taping.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on August 30, 2012, on page 8.




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