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"AlAdab" magazine and editor fined over critical article

(ANHRI/IFEX) - The Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI) is extremely alarmed at the harsh sentence issued against Samah Idriss, editor of "AlAdab" magazine and its director, Aida Matraji, fining each US$4000 and ordering the magazine to publish information about the sentence in its next issue.

The case was filed by the Fakhri Karim, a counselor to the Iraqi president, over a critical article written in 2007 by Suhail Idriss, the Lebanese thinker and founder of "AlAdab" magazine.

"AlAdab" is one of the foremost Arabic journals, renowned for its quality content and credibility gained over years of professional and political integrity. It has established loyal ties with readers in the Arab world, and published an article by Suhail Idris in 2007 under the title "Critique of critical consciousness: Kurdistan – Iraq as a model". The article mentioned the changes in Arabic intellectuals' stances regarding Middle Eastern issues, switching from siding with their people to siding with dictators against other dictators, and writing in favour of some despotic regimes. The Iraqi publisher Fakhri Karim filed a libel case against the magazine and its publishers. After lengthy hearings, the Lebanese court handed down these harsh fines, at a time when the magazine is experiencing severe financial difficulties that may lead to its closure, after more than 50 years in existence.

Gamal Eid, executive director of ANHRI, said "It seems that enemies of freedom of expression and the financial crisis have allied against the magazine, which is considered the memory and conscience of all those concerned with Arab world issues. Having such a verdict issued in a country like Lebanon, which has for years been an Arabic icon for freedom of expression and an exception to the classic Arabic hostility towards freedom of opinion, indicates the increasing power of voices resenting reasoning in national and cultural issues of the Arab world. It is not acceptable to sue a writer over a clipped part of an important article, nor to forward publishing issues to criminal courts".

ANHRI calls on all Arab writers and intellectuals to launch a solidarity campaign with "AlAdab" magazine and to start a subscription campaign as well, reacting to this cruel sentence that threatens the future of the magazine.

ANHRI said, "The closure of 'AlAdab' is a great loss to us all and to every Arab in need of a critical voice to reclaim some absent principles and values. Those principles which 'AlAdab' seriously endorses and advocates for are those of reason, enlightenment and the struggle for democratic societies to which the Arab citizen is entitled".

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