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Mogadishu radio station temporarily shut down by insurgent group

(NUSOJ/IFEX) - The National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ) has angrily condemned the shutting down of a radio station in Mogadishu by the Somali insurgent group Hisbul Islam.

Militias from Hisbul Islam stormed the premises of GBC Radio and Television at around 12:30 p.m. on 14 April 2010 and ordered the radio station to go off the air without any prior notice. The raid occurred while the station was airing its daily scheduled programs. The group accused the station of broadcasting music, despite a ban issued by Hisbul Islam.

The station's closure came after its well-known transmissions were heard, probably from another newly launched station, Radio Bar-Kulan, that used a duplicate frequency.

"They accused us of airing music though we have completely complied with the music ban. Another radio station, Bar-Kulan, is using a duplicate of our transmission frequency," Abdullahi Ahmed Nor, head of programs and member of the GBC management, told NUSOJ.

After meetings between Hisbul Islam and the GBC management, the two sides finally agreed that GBC Radio would switch to another FM frequency so that it could resume operations.

At least 14 independent radio stations, including GBC radio, stopped broadcasting music out of concern for their safety and security. GBC is based in Huriwaa neighborhood, north of the capital, an insurgent-held area.

Hisbul Islam considers music "un-islamic". Meanwhile, Al-Shabab insurgents recently banned foreign broadcasts of the BBC and VOA in areas under their control with immediate effect, after accusing foreign broadcasters of "violating Islam and spreading Western propaganda."

"We condemn, in the strongest terms possible, the shutting down of the radio station. This is an act meant to intimidate and finally hijack freedom of expression and freedom of the press," said Omar Faruk Osman, NUSOJ Secretary General.

At least two radio stations in Mogadishu are not complying with the ban. Bar-Kulan Radio and Radio Mogadishu continue to broadcast music.

Al-Shabab and Hisbul Islam have imposed a number of oppressive edicts against media professionals in southern Somalia. They have also seized some of the radio stations, and deported, arrested, intimidated and threatened journalists. Moreover, women journalists have been barred from exercising their profession, resulting in a massive exodus of journalists.

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