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Protests against a media house in Pakistan mount

Zaffar Abbas, the Editor of The Dawn at the 2019 Gwen Ifill Press Freedom Award. Screenshot from YouTube video by Committee to Protect Journalists.

A large crowd held protests outside the Dawn Newspaper office in Islamabad and Karachi Press Club last week after the newspaper reported that Usman Khan, the London Bridge attacker, was associated with Pakistan. Khan had stabbed two people to death and left three injured a day before the Dawn report. Protestors chanted slogans against Dawn Media Group, hurled death threats, demanded Hameed Haroon (owner of Dawn) and Zaffar Abbas (Editor of Dawn) be hanged, burnt copies of the newspaper and held a number of journalists hostage for hours in Dawn Office in Islamabad, while they continued their protests.

This is not the first time that Dawn Newspaper has taken heat over their stories. Since the Dawn Leaks scandal in 2016, it has been in the government's bad books and some people think these protests are a continuation of the smear campaign against the outlet.

Chaudhry Fawad Hussain, Federal Minister for Science & Technology, lashed at Dawn with tweets:

Other newspapers such as The News cleverly reported saying that his parents were from Azad Kashmir but he did not attend any militant or radical training in Pakistan.

On social media, people started tweeted against the paper using the hashtag #BoycottIndianDawn:

Zaffar Abbas, the Editor of Dawn News recently received the Gwen Ifill Press Freedom Award for “extraordinary and sustained achievement in the cause of press freedom.” He tweeted about the protest:

The Dawn was also criticized for another headline recently.

Umer Ali points this out:

For about a year now, Dawn Newspaper has been banned from distribution in the Lahore Cantonment, and after this recent incident, Defense Housing Authority (DHA) also banned Dawn Newspaper in their area:

Translation: “DHA has placed a ban on Dawn Newspaper. In lieu of this paper distribute the alternate papers.”

“Is uniform (military) behind public intimidation”

Apart from leftist groups in Pakistan, politicians and opposition parties also extended their support to Dawn News. The Journalist community also protested against the incident condemning criticism of the outlet as a way of curtailing media in Pakistan. International journalists’ rights groups like the Committee to Protect Journalists, International Press Institute and Reporters Without Borders condemned the incident and asked Prime Minister Imran Khan to look into this matter urgently.

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