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Somalia's Islamic Group Imposes Harsh Rules On Media, Says Press Watchdog
The Islamic group has told journalists they must abide by a list of 13 rules of conduct, said the Paris-based Reporters Without Borders.
The group said the result of the new rules would be a “gagged, obedient press, constrained by threats to sing the praises of the Islamic courts and their vision of the world and Somalia.” Journalists face arrest if they breach the rules, Islamic officials said.
The new rules say journalists must reveal their sources and not release information that could create tension between the Islamic group and Somalia's 8 million people. Journalists can also face charges for promoting a “foreign culture or bad behavior,” the watchdog group said in a statement sent to The Associated Press.
“We are not against freedom of speech; journalists are free to do their job,” the Islamic group's spokesman, Abdirahim Ali Mudey, told the AP by phone from the capital, Mogadishu.
“All we want is journalists to disseminate true information. Our aim is to prevent anything that can bring chaos back to Somalia. Irresponsible journalism can bring disaster to Somalia,” he said.
Islamic militants shut down a radio station Sept. 10 for airing “music and love songs.” Three journalists from the privately owned HornAfrik radio were briefly detained last month “for conveying wrong messages to the people that are against the Islamic courts.”
Journalists are expected to meet with Islamic officials Sunday to discuss the rules.
“Some of the rules are unacceptable,” said Ali Mohumed Adan, a deputy director of Mogadishu's Radio Banadir.
Somalia has not had an effective national government since 1991, when warlords overthrew dictator Mohammed Siyad Barre and then turned on one another, throwing the country into anarchy.
A transitional government was formed in 2004 with U.N. help in hopes of restoring order. But it has struggled to assert authority, while the Islamic movement seized the capital, Mogadishu, in June and now controls much of the south.
The Islamic group's strict and often severe interpretation of Islam raises memories of Afghanistan's Taliban, which was ousted by a U.S.-led campaign for harboring Osama bin Laden and his al-Qaeda fighters. It has brought public floggings and executions to Mogadishu.
The United States has accused Somalia's Islamic group of sheltering suspects in the 1998 al-Qaeda bombings of U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. Bin Laden has said Somalia is a battleground in his war on the West.
Source: The ASSOCIATED PRESS