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Female Yemeni journalist faces fierce defamation campaign

Yemeni journalist Samia Aghbari has been threatened.
Yemeni journalist Samia Aghbari has been threatened.

ANHRI

(ANHRI/IFEX) - 9 January 2013 - The Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI) announces its full solidarity with journalist Samia Aghbari who has been subjected to a fierce defamation campaign launched against her in Yemen for voicing her opinions in public.

After delivering a speech in the Dale governorate on 31 December 2012, which marked the 10th anniversary of the murder at the hand of extremists of Gar Allah Omar, assistant secretary-general of the Yemen Socialist Party, Aghbari became exposed to defamation, slander, threats, and accusations of being a traitor and infidel. The people were being pitted against her.

In her speech, Aghbari said, "The ugly trio of Religion, Military, and Tribe is what ruined our dream of building a civil and democratic state; it is also what killed Gar Allah Omar and former President Hamdy before him." In another part of her speech she added, "The socialist party does not exploit the needs of people with some rice and some sugar." Members of the Youth Islamic Reforms party expressed their anger at her mention of rice and sugar as means to win the masses.

Since that day, Aghbari has been harassed incessantly due to allegedly insulting Islam. The defamation campaign against her reached new heights as Akram El-Gowaizi, a member of the Yemen Assembly for Islamic Reform, filed a complaint against her to the prosecution in which he accused her of defaming religion, mentioning the part of her speech where she brought up religion, military, and tribe as the three destructive elements of society.

"Using the law to punish people for their peaceful opinions and using religion in the political game to win the masses are both abusive of the Yemeni revolution, which achieved many of its goals without the assistance of the media, as most media outlets had ignored the events, thus leading to it being dubbed the 'forgotten revolution'," stated ANHRI.

The organisation calls on different political powers in Yemen with different ideological orientations to respect freedom of expression by not defaming, threatening, or slandering anyone.

ANHRI calls on the Yemeni authorities to guarantee the safety of those expressing their opinions and not to neglect their protection as that threatens the freedom of the press and the media in the country.

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