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Sudan: Editor-in-chief El Tayar newspaper attacked

July 20 - 2014 KHARTOUM

(UPDATED) The editor-in-chief of El Tayar daily newspaper barely escaped an assassination attempt in Khartoum on Saturday afternoon.

El Tayar staff journalist Abdallah Ishag told Radio Dabanga that on Saturday, “about half an hour before the breaking of the fast (at sunset)”, a group of about 11 masked gunmen in two Land Cruisers stopped in front of the newspaper’s premises in downtown Khartoum, and stormed the office.

“Some of them entered the editors’ room, others went to the office of the editor-in-chief, Osman Mirghani. They told us all to lie down on the ground, and took our mobile telephones and laptops,” Ishag said.

“They beat Osman Mirghani with the butts of their Kalashnikovs, iron bars, and batons until he fell unconscious. They then took everything they found in his office, including his laptop. They destroyed all the furniture too.”

Mirghani was transferred to a hospital for treatment.

Ishag said that the gunmen told them they were members of the National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS). He called the attack “barbarous” and said it was meant to “gag righteous journalists”.

The police announced in a statement on Sunday that two men in a Land Cruiser had attacked the editor-in-chief with batons.

Osman Mirghani had defended the idea of normalising relations with Israel in a Sudanese TV talk show. He had also written a column on the issue in the newspaper. The TV programme was recorded more than three weeks ago, but aired at the time of the Israeli attacks on Gaza.

The Sudanese Religious Scholars Committee on Friday issued a fatwa (Islamic decree) prohibiting calls for normalising relations with Israel.

Demonstration

Members of the Sudanese Journalists Network (SJN) on Sunday went to the streets in “an outrageous protest against the terrorist attack”. The march went from El Tayar office to the National Council for Press and Publications, where SJN representatives handed a memorandum. They demanded from the authorities to “arrest the perpetrators, and bring them to justice in a public trial”.

“Sensitive issues”

The SJN had already condemned “this act of terrorism, in the strongest terms” in a statement issued on Saturday evening, considering that such attacks could target any other journalist for expressing their views on “sensitive issues”.

The journalists hold the Minister of Interior Affairs responsible for the “violent attack on a mainstream newspaper in broad daylight”. They demanded from the Ministry to “put forth its utmost efforts to “arrest the perpetrators and their supporters, and bring them to a public trial, in order to avoid a repetition of the incident”.

The Network called on all journalists to unite “to protect themselves”, and pressure the authorities to “broadly investigate those who may have a relationship with terrorist groups”. The statement referred to the killing of Mohamed Taha, the editor-in-chief of El Wifag daily newspaper, by gunmen in 2008, after his paper had republished an article from the Internet, questioning the parentage of the Prophet Mohamed.

In the statement, the SJN appealed to the international community to protect the Sudanese journalists against terrorism, violations of the right to free expression, detention of journalists, and the continuing confiscation of newspapers by the NISS.

The Network pointed in this context to El Jareeda correspondent Hassan Ishag, who was detained by the NISS in En Nahud on 10 June, and demanded his immediately release, “or bring him to justice in a fair and public trial”.

News photoJournalists marching to the National Council for Press and Publications in Khartoum on Sunday (Radio Dabanga correspondent)

Related:

Sudan security confiscates print run El Tayar (6 July 2014)

Police torture detained journalist in Sudan's West Kordofan (13 June 2014)

 


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