The media and activists reacted indignantly to the serious injury suffered by the freelance photographer Ameer al-Halbi on the sidelines of the escalated protests against police violence in Paris on Saturday. The AFP news agency, for which the photographer works, among other things, called for a police investigation into the case on Sunday. Now the police have started an internal investigation into the incident within 24 hours, reports the newspaper »Le Monde«.
The photographer, who comes from Syria, reported the day before about the protests on Paris’ Bastille Square when, according to Reporters Without Borders (RSF), he was seriously injured in the face with a “police baton”.
According to the head of photography for the French photo magazine »Polka Magazine«, for which al-Halbi also works, the photographer was treated in hospital for a broken nose and injuries to his forehead, among other things. In AFP photos, the 24-year-old looks badly worn out, his head mostly disappears under bandages.
AFP information director Phil Chetwynd was “shocked” by the injuries of his colleague and condemned the violence, which the photographer did not provoke. “Polka” boss Alain Genestar pointed out that al-Halbi was clearly recognizable as a press photographer. RSF General Secretary Christophe Deloire criticized the police for the “unacceptable” violence.
The photographer from Syria has received several awards for his photos. His pictures from his hometown Aleppo, with which he documented the suffering of the Syrian conflict, caused a stir.
Aleppo war memories in Paris
Al-Halbi said he suffered a “severe shock” when he was injured between demonstrators and police for two hours. For hours the police refused to let him through for treatment in the hospital: “At that moment the images from Aleppo came back to my mind.”
When he was 15 years old, he was stuck in a demonstration in Syria with two gunshot wounds in his hand, the photographer reported. This past pierced his head like a violent pain on Saturday. But now he’s feeling better.
The protests in Paris and many other cities were directed against a planned police law with which the French government wants to criminalize certain photos or films made by police officers. They were piqued by new cases of police violence, which had become known through video recordings in the past few days and which had caused horror across the country.