The International Federation of Journalists called today for the immediate release of the managing editor of the daily, Le Matin, Mohamed Benchicou, and cartoonist Ali Dilem, of the daily Liberté, after their arrest by police in Algeria.
Following four successive summonses by police yesterday, the two journalists were finally detained and taken down to the central police station in Algiers. The action comes five days after the IFJ issued a public statement condemning “the intolerable persecution” of a number of local journalists.
“The IFJ is implacably opposed to political pressure on independent media,” said Aidan White, IFJ General Secretary.
At the same time, the IFJ says Algerian media should set the highest standards of journalism by refraining from publication of material that incites intolerance, racism and anti-semitism which may lead to violence.
Official anger over Le Matin and Liberté allegedly comes from criticism of the Algerian Minister for the Interior, Moulay Guendil, based on his religious identity as a Jew and derogatory reference to him coming from Morocco.
The IFJ says there is no excuse for the current intimidation of media in Algeria, but the best response by journalists is to show the highest level of professionalism and tolerance in their work.
“This will demonstrate most effectively their role in defending democratic rights, including freedom of expression,” said White. “Journalists must always respect the truth, but at the same time they must do no harm by what they say and write.”
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The IFJ represents over 500,000 journalists in more than 100 countries