Newsletter No 8 29 November 2005
Press Freedom:
Latest Press Freedom News from the Region

»In Egypt, a journalist at the independent daily Al Masry Al Youm was beaten on 9 November while covering the first round of legislative elections in Southern Egypt, according to reports issued on 22 November

Mamdouh Thabet was taking pictures of a fight between supporters of two rival candidates when he was hit by one of the candidate’s supporters. He managed to escape and take refuge in an Internet café where he asked a police officer for help but was refused. He later left the café to take more pictures when supporters of both factions attacked him and he had to flee, leaving his camera.

Several journalists have been harassed and prevented from doing their work since the opening of the Egyptian legislative elections on 8 November.

»In Somalia, radio editor Awale Jama Salad has reportedly been forced to hide after being arrested and threatened several times by the police in the autonomous northeastern region of Putland.

According to reports, police in the city of Bossasso began searching for Awale Jama Salad in the last week of October, raiding his home and the homes of four of his friends. He has been in hiding since then. The police told his colleagues they wanted him to report to the police station for questioning because he had, they claimed, provided “dishonest information” to Reporters Without Borders and its partner organization in Somalia, the National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ).

In a joint statement on 18 October, the two organizations said they were appalled by the conditions in Bossasso prison, where Awale Jama Salad was arbitrarily detained for a second time and subjected to severe physical mistreatment at the end of September after criticizing conditions in the jail during an earlier incarceration.

»In Yemen, a court shut down the opposition Al Tajamu Newspaper on 26 November for six months. The Al Tajamu’s editor-in-chief, Abdul Rahman Abdullah, and one of the columnists of the weekly, Abdul Rahman Saeed, were ordered to pay a fine of 50,000 Yemeni Rial each (about 285 US$). Both have been suspended from work for a year.

The court had ruled that an article published on August was “contrary to the press law”, “incited ethnical conflict” and “threatened national stability”.

The article, headed “Commemorating anniversary of August 24, 1968”, dealt with a battle that took place in the capital Sanaa in 1968 between rival factions and that led to the elimination of one of the factions from governmental positions, according to Yemen Times.

Al Tajamu is the organ of the opposition Unionist Congregation Party.

Sources for the alerts:
Arab Press Freedom Watch (AFPW), London
Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), New York
International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), Brussels, Belgium
International Freedom of Expression Exchange (IFEX), Canada
International Press Institute (IPI), Vienna, Austria
Reporters Without Borders (RSF), France