Friday, October 20, 2006

Press freedom in Somalia

Sections of the left were clearly delighted when the Union of Islamic Courts seized control of Mogadishu last July.

‘For the first time for many years there is a sense of relief and hope among many people in Somalia,' Socialist Worker told its readership, in a wholly positive article in which our ‘revolutionary socialists’ found themselves unable to utter one word of criticism about the freshly-minted theocracy.

As this blog remarked at the time, the UIC were depicted essentially as armed reformists, delivering welfare statist politics through the barrel of an AK-47. There was no suggestion that the Islamist rule would be anything other than progressive.

Media coverage of what goes on Somalia is, at least in Britain, extremely limited. Now getting an accurate handle on the situation is suddenly going to be a whole lot harder.

According to a report [in French] on the indispensable Jeune Afrique website today, the UIC has introduced tough new rules on press censorship:

‘By virtue of these rules, it is forbidden to journalists to publish information judged contrary to Islam and to participate in programmes or seminars sponsored by foreigners without the permission of the bureau of information of the UIC.

‘Equally, the code forbids the media to use the vocabulary that the infidels use to make reference to Muslims, such as ‘terrorists’ or ‘extremists’.’

French press freedom campaign Reporters Sans Frontieres has condemned the move. I wonder what the SWP’s position would be, if they even considered such matters? After all, they supported the Racial and Religious Hatred Act. What's the difference in principle?


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