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After 8 days of silence, Iraq PM promises probe into attack on woman journalist

Iraqi journalist Zohra al-Musawi was assaulted by unidentified men in the centre of Baghdad on October 4 while police and other members of the security forces look on without intervening, Reporters sans Frontières (RSF) has reported.

Although Musawi, a presenter for satellite TV station Al Iraqiya, was wearing an Islamic veil at the time, clothes were torn off her as she was being beaten by her assailants, who then calmly left the scene.

Musawi had been receiving sexually harassing messages on her phone for months and, in one of her few statements to the press since the attack, she said she thought it was premeditated because men had been following her movements for several days.

According to information obtained by Saif al-Khayat, an Iraqi exile journalist based in France, from various sources, who corroborated each other, the person responsible for the attack was Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s son, Ahmad Nouri al-Maliki. The national media have not reported this for fear of reprisals.

“We would like to express our support for Zohra al-Musawi who, despite this humiliation and despite the daily harassment, intends to bring judicial proceedings,” Paris-based RSF said. “We will follow this case closely, especially as someone in high places is said to be involved.”

Musawi cannot be reached at the moment but sources close to her say she has been traumatised by the assault. The reason the police failed to intervene, although the attack took place in a well protected neighbourhood, is said to have been because the person responsible was the son of one of Iraq’s most influential politicians.

Musawi’s father also has a senior government position and she has reportedly been under both family and political pressure to say nothing. She was also reportedly offered a sizable amount of financial compensation, but turned it down in order to be free to talk about the assault.

Prime Minister Maliki announced Monday, eight days after the assault, that it would be the subject of a transparent investigation. In his official speeches, Maliki often expresses support for journalists and calls for their work to be respected.

“We appeal to the prime minister to guarantee the transparency of this investigation, regardless of family and political pressures,” RSF said. “The lack of reaction on the part of the security forces that were present and the media’s failure to report this case for many days also need to be explained.”

Date posted: October 13, 2009 Last modified: May 23, 2018 Total views: 124