A Dutch journalist was assaulted and robbed while covering a story on the makeshift refugee in Calais – the city in northwestern France from which illegal immigrants hope to gain access to the United Kingdom, which is within sight across the English Channel. Video footage of the attack was taken by Maaike Engels and posted by journalist Teun Voeten on YouTube on January 17.
Three young men attacked the pair. One of the assailants threatened them with a knife. “I’ve done a lot of work in war zones and crime-ridden areas around the world, so I wasn’t surprised about the mugging,” he told the media. The attackers tried to take Voeten’s camera. However, they were chased away by other residents of the camp known locally as The Jungle. The trio did manage to steal Voeten’s notebook, but discarded it in the ensuing chase. The video recorded how the assailants were chased through the muddy tracks leading through the squatter camp. Immigrants who came to the aid of the Dutch journalists could be heard shouting at the assailants to halt.
Voeten praised Engels, saying when one of the men approached her, she kicked him. He also praised the refugees who rescued the pair of journalists.
Despite criticism among leftists, Voeten said he had not regrets about posting the video. He said, “You have good refugees and bad refugees. The bad ones were robbing us while the good ones were rescuing us.”
In The Jungle of Calais, about 4,000 illegal immigrants are making do in tents and temporary structures, cooking in the open, and relying on charity. Many are from North Africa and majority-Muslim nations. A temporary Christian chapel and a mosque offers worshippers a place to pray. See Spero coverage here.
Voeten is working on a documentary about the camp. A short version, entitled “Calais: Welcome to The Jungle,” has already been screened. Defending himself from criticisms, Voeten said that he and his colleagues had provided enough context in their reporting. He cited “self-censorship” among journalists as a problem. He said that he disagrees with “withholding information from the public for fear they are not mature enough to handle it.”