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NUSOJ condemns cleric's "deadly threat" to journalists

(NUSOJ/IFEX) - The National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ) has condemned a statement from Sheikh Abdulqadir Muumin, a prominent cleric linked to the leadership of the Somali extremist group Al Shabaab, for labeling Somali journalists as "unbelievers" who had been "sentenced to death".

Sheik Abdulqadir, while addressing Al Shabaab followers on 10 September 2011 in the Lower Shabelle region of Southern Somalia, referred to local journalists as "unbelievers" and discouraged the group's followers from listening to the journalists' radio broadcasts.

"You listen to the radio stations but they tell you lies," he said. "The journalists of BBC, VOA, Radio Mogadishu and other radio stations are apostates and you are not allowed to listen to someone who is sentenced to death," Sheikh Abdulqadir added. He ardently and repeatedly told the militia's followers not to listen to any radio stations in Mogadishu, including BBC Somali Service, VOA Somali section and Radio Mogadishu.

NUSOJ Secretary General Omar Faruk Osman said the statement constituted "a deadly threat to the journalists in Somalia and part of the attempts by the militia to cow the media into silence."

"Journalists in Somalia will not be cowed by such deadly threats and intimidation and we urge them to continue doing their work of informing the world about the atrocities being perpetrated by the militia and other such terror groups in Somalia," said Osman.

Al Shabaab militants often label anyone they want to kill as "apostate". Many journalists in Somalia have been murdered in the past by members of the militia, especially in Mogadishu.

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