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Sudanese journalists condemn Islamist preacher’s attack on colleague

February 19 - 2017 KHARTOUM
Journalist Shamayel El Nour (alnilin.com)
Journalist Shamayel El Nour (alnilin.com)

Journalists in Sudan have denounced the attack on one of their colleagues, Shamayel El Nour, by a radical preacher in his sermon on Friday.

Islamist preacher Mohamed Ali El Jazouli accused Shamayel El Nour, who works for El Tayar daily newspaper, of apostasy, which is carries the death penalty in Sudan.

In one of her daily columns early this month, entitled “The Virtue Mania”, she stated that “Islamic regimes are preoccupied with matters of virtue, women’s dress, appearance, more than health and education issues”.

She pointed to the state budget, in which less than three percent is allocated to the health and education sectors. “It is easy to cut spending on health in the state budget, but it is very difficult for the Ministry of Health to distribute condoms,” she wrote in her column of 2 February.

In his sermon, El Jazouli asked how “a girl dares to write about condoms”. He called on the Muslim leaders in the country to stand up in order to defend Islam. He said that he would lodge a complaint against the apostasy.

El Tayeb Mustafa, the uncle of President Al Bashir, and founder of El Intibaha newspaper, had published an article against the woman journalist earlier this month. In response, El Nour filed a complaint against him.

El Tayar newspaper has requested the police to protect her.

'Journalistic ethics'

The Sudanese Journalists Network has described the campaign against El Nour as “a new episode of harassment and terror concerning the freedom of expression”.

“If a man had written this column, he would not have gotten such a fierce reaction.”

Journalist Hasan Baraka member of the Network told Radio Dabanga today that the agitated reactions by the radical clergy in Sudan were to be expected. “Yet, the way El Nour’s rights have been trampled, has raised the disapproval of the entire Sudanese press.”

“The attack on El Nour by Mustafa in El Sayha was devoid of any journalistic ethics. Journalists respect each other, whatever their conviction,” he said.

“In fact, the matter is about the implementation of the political agenda, that now uses the current feelings of agitation among the Islamists to further silence the press in Sudan.”

Feisal El Bagir, Coordinator-general of the Journalists for Human Rights (JHR), commented that “El Tayar has done the right thing in contacting the police and requesting protection of its journalists. Though the attackers of editor-in-chief Osman Mirghani have still not been found.”

“The government has given these radical groups a green light to persecute and harass anyone who holds a different opinion.”

He further pointed to the position of women journalists in Sudan. “If a man had written this column, he would not have gotten such a fierce reaction.

“But in general, the government has given these radical groups a green light to persecute and harass anyone who holds a different opinion. They call any person who defends human rights and civil freedoms a communist. And the possibilities to deter them through legal action are minimal.”

According to El Bagir, “the government and the security apparatus are seeking to confiscate any space for press freedom. The contents and drafts of the new Permanent Constitution and other laws, such as the new press law are entirely clouded.

“The authorities are very happy with journalists like El Nour, so they can publicly criticise the entire press,” he added.

The journalist called “all people respecting the freedom of expression to stand by El Nour, another victim of ferocious hate-speech.”

Released

Mohamed Ali El Jazouli, Secretary-General of the Sudanese Tayar El Umma El Wahida (One Nation Movement) radical Islamist group has been arrested several times.

In June 2015, the leader of the El Jereif Mosques founded by President Al Bashir in Khartoum, was released from a previous detention of eight months, for expressing his support for El Qaida and the Islamic State (IS). Directly after being released, he repeated his support for the IS forces fighting the “coalition of Arab crusaders”, after which he was re-arrested.

El Jazouli was released again at the end of the year, together with a group of other Salafist Jihadist preachers. The Sudanese authorities released a second batch of imprisoned IS sympathisers in January last year.

Suspended, attacked

In May 2016, after being suspended by the National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS) for more than four months, Sudan's highest court allowed the independent El Tayar daily newspaper to resume publishing. The reasons for the suspension remain unknown.

Osman Mirghani, editor-in-chief of the daily himself was attacked in his office in July 2014, after he had defended the idea of normalising relations with Israel in his column and a Sudanese TV talk show.

A group of seven gunmen stormed his office on Saturday 19 July in the late afternoon. After insulting him, they beat him unconsciousness.

An unknown group, calling itself the Hamza Combat Group Against Atheism and Heresy, claimed responsibility for the attack in a statement distributed in downtown Khartoum the next day.

The police investigating the incident revealed that it obtained important information about the attackers.


 


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