The International Federation of Journalists today condemned threats made by a Muslim cleric against the editor in chief of Al Ayam, one of Bahrain’s top daily newspapers, after the newspaper ran a political cartoon about the Iranian presidential election.
Al Ayam’s Editor-in-Chief Isa Al Shaygi said he received a threatening letter from Aqeel Al Mousawi, a religious scholar who had said he considered the cartoon offensive. Al Mousawi led a massive protest in front of the newspaper office and then met with Al Shaygi, who promised that the complaint would be referred to management. After the meeting, Al Mousawi sent the letter to Al Shaygi saying that the editor “would soon be punished by the people for being a traitor.” There are fears that another protest will take place today.
Al Ayam said it rejects the threat, which is “not compatible with freedom of speech.”
“This sort of intimidating language is not only threatening to the editor personally,” said Aidan White, IFJ General Secretary. “It is an unacceptable attack on freedom of expression in Bahrain.”
Al Shaygi is also the President of the Bahrain Journalists Association, a group that has promoted the rights of journalists and a free and open media both in its home country and in neighboring countries in the region.
“The Bahrain Journalists Association has been a tremendous asset in promoting the independent press in Bahrain and in the Middle East region as a whole,” White said. “We support their stance against this type of intimidation and their commitment to freedom of expression and diversity of opinions in the media.”
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The IFJ represents more than 500,000 journalists in more than 110 countries