Protestors assaulted a BuzzFeed News reporter in Paris Thursday at a rally organized by the Jewish Defense League, an extremist group the French government has considered banning.
The incident happened amid a tense standoff between protesters and Paris police outside the offices of the news wire Agence France Presse, whose coverage the JDL and two other groups organizing the event — the Organization of European Jews and Impact — denounced as anti-Israel. Members of the crowd threw eggs and another projectile at the building and shouted insults over a police line.
Shortly before 8:00 p.m., a protester told BuzzFeed News reporter David Perrotin that "it isn't good to take photos" of the event, and then asked if he was a journalist. He didn't identify himself as one out of concern for his safety, but she continued: "I know who you are, I have information about you. You are David Perrotin. Wait, I'll tell the JDL that you're here."
The JDL was founded in the United States by the radical rabbi Meir Kahane in the late 1960s, and was implicated in bombing and murder plots against Soviet and Arab targets. In recent decades, it splintered amid violent infighting. Israel has banned groups founded by Kahane, who was himself murdered in 1990; the American JDL inspired the creation of a French JDL in 2000, and France considered a similar ban last year, according to Libération and the AFP.
After his conversation with the protester, Perrotin sought to leave the crowd. Police directed him to run toward the police line in front of the AFP building, but as he ran, a group of about a dozen young protesters wearing masks and helmets intercepted him.
The men struck his back. He received a blow to his head, and police later said the blow came from a helmet. As the melee reached police lines, he was also struck by police before they recognized him as a reporter. They then allowed him to enter the AFP building, where AFP staff sheltered him until police escorted him out of the building about 45 minutes later.
The JDL responded with a blank email to an inquiry as to why protesters targeted Perrotin. Paris police didn't respond immediately to a request for comment on the attack.
Perrotin, who was not badly injured, plans to file a complaint with police Friday.
Cécile Dehesdin est la rédactrice en chef de BuzzFeed France et travaille depuis Paris.
Contact Cecile Dehesdin at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ben Smith is the editor-in-chief of BuzzFeed and is based in New York.
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