The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) today condemned the kidnapping and gruesome murder of Mohammed Taha, editor-in-chief of Sudanese newspaper Al-Wifaq.
Taha was found beheaded yesterday in Khartoum just hours after he was abducted by unknown men. The killing is said to be related to controversial articles Taha wrote last year on the lineage of the Prophet Muhammad.
“We are horrified by this heinousness and we express our sympathy to Taha’s family and colleagues,” said Gabriel Baglo, Director of the IFJ Africa Office. “We urge the Sudanese government to make sure that they investigate this crime and bring the perpetrators to justice.”
According to an IFJ source in Sudan, Taha left his office for home at midnight on Tuesday. At about 12:30 am someone knocked on his door. When he opened the door, he was seized by men who forced him into a car and drove away.
"Mohamed Taha’s body was found beheaded on Wednesday on the main road of Khartoum," said an anonymous source in Khartoum, who added that some aspects of the murder signalled the involvement of Islamist groups. “Taha was buried on Thursday at 10 am but I think he was too hurriedly buried because there should have been some examination of the body before," the source said.
In May 2005, Taha was tried for blasphemy because of articles published in his newspapers raising doubts about the lineage of the Prophet Muhammad. The prosecution, some local extremist groups and a huge crowd that demonstrated during the trial sought the death penalty for Taha. They claimed he had insulted The Prophet. At the conclusion of the trial, Taha was fined about 3,000 US dollars and his newspaper was closed for three months. He also apologized in print media.
“The situation in Sudan continues to deteriorate,” said the IFJ’s Baglo. “We renew our call on the President of Sudan Omar El Bechir to release arbitrarily imprisoned journalists and to ensure that journalists can work freely in the country without any form of intimidation or harassment.”
For further information contact the IFJ: +221 842 01 43
The IFJ represents over 500,000 journalists in more than 110 countries