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NUSOJ condemns oppressive edicts targeting the media in Gedo region

(NUSOJ/IFEX) - The National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ) has voiced concern over the imposition of oppressive edicts by the Al-Shabab movement against the media in Belet-Hawo town, in the Gedo region of southwestern Somalia.

On 15 September 2009, Abdullahi Gardhuub, the newly appointed Al-Shabaab information officer in Belet-Hawo town, convened a meeting of journalists in the town and read to them a list of edicts the Al-Shabab want to see implemented in the media. The edicts are as follows:

1. Music should not be aired.

2. All music that has been used to advertise a commercial product or for an advertising program should be replaced by "Islamic songs" or "Anaashid".

3. The information officer cannot be telephoned by the media or used as a source, even if 1,000 people are killed in the town, unless the officer himself calls the radio station or journalist and orders them to report as he wishes.

4. Al-Shabaab and its leadership have sworn in the name of Allah, that if any journalist or media house airs information against the Islamic administration, they shall be killed.

5. Journalists and media houses must not refer to Ahlu-Sunna Wal-Jama (a rival religious grouping) as religious clerics. The media should, instead, refer to them as "Suufis" or devout worshipers.

6. In the event that the government forces and the Al-Shabaab are fighting, the media should refer to the Al-Shabaab as "Mujaahidiin" or martyrs.

7. The media in the region cannot report any information from outside the border town.

8. The media is not allowed to interview any "Murtad" or "infidel", the Al-Shabaab term for any member of the transitional federal government.

NUSOJ condemns the edicts in the strongest terms possible as they could lead to a media blackout in the region. Journalists are currently worried about how to comply with these stringent and unreasonable edicts that go against the international norms on freedom of expression.

Similar rules were recently imposed on Radio Markabley in Bardhere town in the same region.

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