In videos that have gone viral, eight computers and a brand-name television from Les Echos are found on the ground, “completely damaged”. This is how the said newspaper underlines it in its Tuesday publication under the title: “The Moustarchidines perpetrate a + attack + at + Les Echos +”.
The Moustarchidines are a religious movement of the Tidian community of Tivaouane whose moral guide is Serigne Moustapha Sy, also honorary president of the Unity and Rally Party (PUR), who came fourth in the last presidential election with more than 4% of the votes.
Suspected disciples were offended after discovering in the front page of Les Echos a news report of the hospitalisation of their guide for Covid-19. They decided to do themselves justice, going to the headquarters of the newspaper where they would have ransacked the material.
In a statement, the national youth secretary of PUR, Habib Ndiaye, denounced “shameless lies” and claimed that the president of PUR “is well and is somewhere on planet Earth going about his business.”
Denouncing a “campaign of destabilisation”, he warns the newspaper: “Leave him alone if you want peace (…) A warned man is worth two”. In addition, the press release does not mention the attack which targeted the editorial staff of Les Echos.
According to information from the Emedia group, six people were arrested in the case and will be interviewed at the Research Section of the gendarmerie, pending the investigation to continue.
The Syndicate of Information and Communication Professionals (Synpics) announced on its Facebook page that “media organizations will be at Les Echos to express their indignation”. For the union, the young people of the PUR did not deny the object of their attack, which “was to intimidate or muzzle the Senegalese press”.
The Senegalese Council of Press Publishers and Distributors (CDEPS) condemned “firmly” the sacking of the newspaper’s headquarters where the Minister of Culture and Communication described it as “irresponsible acts”. For him, the authors “could have ended up, otherwise, in a much more serious situation”.
Also outraged by the “vandalized editorial staff” of Les Echos, Reporters Without Borders (RSF) on August 4 called for “a firm and rapid reaction from the Senegalese authorities” so that “this attack does not go unpunished”.