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Demonstrations held against newspaper in Afghanistan

This statement was originally published on ifj.org on 27 October 2014.

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) joins its affiliates the Afghanistan Independent Journalists Association (AIJA) in expressing strong concerns over recent incidents surrounding the publication of an article in the Afghanistan Express daily.

The English daily published an article on 'Islam of Taliban and ISIS' last week. According to reports, extremist Islamic scholars and Afghan Jihadi groups strongly criticized some parts of the article and subsequently there have been a number of demonstrations against the newspaper for publishing the article. One set of demonstrations at an Islamic university called for the owners of the daily to be arrested and for the government to block further publication.

The Afghanistan Express published an apology, which they said was published as a result of a technical mistake. "We deeply apologize for this mistake and want to say that this is against our policy," the newspaper said clarifying that they were not related to any political, religious or any other armed groups.

The IFJ understands that despite the apology, the hostility against the newspaper continues.

IFJ acting director, Jane Worthington, said: "We believe that there are legal ways to file a case against the paper in media commission if any published contents are contrary to laws. It's undemocratic culture to demonstrate in the streets encouraging for violence against press freedom and freedom of expression."

The IFJ further added: "The IFJ urge the Afghanistan government to immediately ensure the security of the newspaper and its staff; and persuade those protesting to [pursue] legal ways."

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