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NUSOJ condemns Al-Shabaab ban on BBC

(NUSOJ/IFEX) - On 9 April 2010, the National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ) condemned Al-Shabaab's imposition of a ban on news and other programmes of the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) that are re-broadcast in Somalia through local FM stations, particularly the regions and districts under their control.

The Al-Shabaab armed group banned the listening of BBC and said "they will confiscate its equipment." A statement from the group accuses the BBC of broadcasting programmes "against Muslims and Islam." "The BBC makes propaganda for the enemy of Muslims and the Christian agents," said the statement.

"This repressive act against BBC is a strong demonstration of the gravity of media repression by Al-Shabaab. We are very concerned at the apparent intention of Al-Shabaab to get tough on journalists and media organisations that have taken an independent attitude of reporting. Al-Shabaab has demonstrated a complete lack of respect for the value of media freedom in the country," said NUSOJ Secretary General Omar Faruk Osman.

Immediately after the release of its statement, Al-Shabaab reportedly raided and looted BBC offices in Mogadishu's Bakara Market and two other offices. All the equipment of the BBC offices in Baidoa, Mogadishu and Jowhar was seized by Al-Shabaab, according to local journalists in Jowhar, Mogadishu and Baidoa.

Private radio stations that had agreements with the BBC to re-broadcast its programmes effectively implemented the Al-Shabaab order in fear for their life and equipments.

"The BBC is owned by Britain and it is the first voice that fulfills the agendas of the Christian colony to Muslim world," the Al-Shabaab statement added. The group called on the radio stations that have a contract to re-broadcast the programmes of BBC and Voice of America to cease this practice on 9 April; otherwise they would be raided and plundered.

"The ban on these two international broadcasters and the suppression of independent reporting at such a critical time that Somali people are ravenous for news and information is a serious attack on press freedom and the public's right to know what is going on," Omar Faruk Osman stated.

"This continued and systematic oppression and vicious intimidation of media and journalists is intolerable. We need an immediate end to the reign of terror that is being unleashed against local and international media," the NUSOJ secretary general added.
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