Newsletter No 23 28 March 2006
News from the Media Scene:
Shams Returns After Publishing Cartoons

The Saudi daily tabloid Shams came back to newsstands on 21 March, a month after it was suspended for publishing the cartoons depicting the prophet Mohammed first published by a Danish newspaper.

The newspaper said in an editorial that publishing the cartoons was a professional mistake and it apologized to its readers. The tabloid had reproduced three of the cartoons in the context of a call to boycott Danish products. “The issue’s journalistic treatment was not right,” said the editorial while adding that “accounts with those responsible for the publication (of the cartoons) have been settled.”

Editor-in-Chief Batal Al Qus has been replaced by Khalaf Al Harbi who told Al that the suspension represented an opportunity to re-think the paper and reinforce its identity. “The newspaper will preserve its original identity and will remain a credible media platform for the Saudi youth,” the editorial said.

The tabloid had been suspended three weeks after it published the cartoons in what some considered pressure from conservative circles in Saudi Arabia that did not like the newspaper. Shams, launched in December 2005, is aimed at young people and has tackled such issues as the role of women in the country.