The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) today called on the Islamic Courts Council of Somalia to end press freedom violations after it banned transmission of station Radio Jowhar for two days and detained a journalist working for another radio station.
Journalist Osman Adan Areys was also detained without charges for 48 hours, allegedly because of broadcasting a report critical of the Islamists.
“We condemn this new crackdown on journalists and the media in the regions controlled by the Islamic Courts and the arbitrary detention of Osman Adan Areys,” said Gabriel Baglo, Director of the IFJ Africa office. “We call on the Islamic Courts Council to put an end to this attempt to control the media and to allow Radio Johwar and the other radio stations to broadcast music.”
On 9 September, the interim provincial administration of the Shabelle region, appointed by the Islamic courts council (ICC), shut down Radio Jowhar for playing love songs deemed to encourage immorality. The radio resumed operation on Monday 11 September but without broadcasting music.
“We are powerless so we have to heed their call to stop playing music on air,” Haga Afrah, director of Radio Jowhar, told Reuters.
According to the National Union of Journalists (NUSOJ), the transmissions resumed after the management of Radio Jowhar agreed with Islamic courts to use only instrumental music ahead of the programmes. This music must not exceed one minute. The Islamists banned all other kinds of songs such as love songs and nationalistic songs.
“This is clear indication of suppression of the independent media and we robustly denounce this action” said Omar Faruk Osman, NUSOJ General Secretary.
Separately, Osman Adan Areys, a journalist with the Mogadishu-based Simba Radio was arrested by militiamen loyal to Islamic Courts in Beledweyn Town in the Hiran region on 8 September. He was released after 48 hours without charges. This arrest is said to be linked to a report done by Areys that included local residents complaining about the curfew that Islamic courts imposed in the town.
“As the talks are underway with the Transitional Federal Government for Somalia to start to take the path toward democracy, the Islamic Courts have to create an environment conducive to freedom of expression and press freedom,” the IFJ’s Baglo said.
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The IFJ represents over 500,000 journalists in more than 110 countries