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Murder of journalist ‘cowardly blow’ to Iraqi society, says UNESCO chief

Murder of journalist ‘cowardly blow’ to Iraqi society, says UNESCO chief

UNESCO Director-General, Koïchiro Matsuura
The head of the United Nations agency tasked with defending press freedom has condemned the killing of Iraqi journalist Shihab al-Tamimi, declaring that the crime constitutes “a cowardly blow” to the fledgling democracy.

Koïchiro Matsuura, Director-General of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), stressed that “those who seek to muzzle the fundamental human right of freedom of expression, and press freedom, are sabotaging the reconstruction of Iraq as a free, democratic country.

“When they attack journalists, they attack every Iraqi's right and ability to make informed decisions and play a part in the development of the country,” he added.

Mr. al-Tamimi, the head of the Iraqi Journalists' Syndicate, died on 27 February from gunshot wounds sustained four days earlier when unidentified gunmen opened fire on a car carrying the 74-year-old, his son and a colleague in Baghdad. His son is reported to be recovering from his wounds while the colleague was not injured.

Staffan de Mistura, the Secretary-General's Special Representative in Iraq, last week said that attacks against media representatives are tantamount to “repressing press freedom and freedom of expression that are an essential component of democracy.”

He added that Mr. al-Tamimi's killing is an example of the dangers faced daily by journalists in the war-torn nation.