Islamists assail woman journalist over column on public health

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) is alarmed to learn that radical Islamists have been threatening and attacking the journalist Shamael Al-Nur in the media ever since she denounced the government’s public health policies in a column

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) is alarmed to learn that radical Islamists have been threatening and attacking the journalist Shamael Al-Nur in the media ever since she denounced the government’s public health policies in a column in the independent newspaper El Tayar on 2 February.

Her Islamist critics have even accused her of apostasy, which is punishable by death under the Sharia law in force in Sudan since 1983.

Headlined “The Virtue Mania” and alluding to the fact that less than 3% of Sudan’s budget is allocated to health and education, Al-Nur’s column said: “Islamic regimes are preoccupied with matters of virtue, women’s dress, appearance, more than health and education issues.”

“It is easy to cut spending on health in the state budget, but it is very difficult for the Ministry of Health to distribute condoms,” the article concluded.

Those leading the verbal offensive against Al-Nur include Mustafa Al-Tayeb, the editor of the newspaper El-Sina and uncle of President Omar Al-Bashir. He likened her to a “worm” and said she had to be prevented from corrupting the country’s values.

A radical imam who supports Al-Qaeda, Mohamed Ali al-Gazouli, attacked her in the same newspaper on 16 February and urged his followers the next day to “get up to protect your religion.” He also threatened to bring a judicial complaint against her accusing her of apostasy.

“The publication of this kind of threat in the newspapers is unacceptable and clearly shows the arbitrary to which media freedom is submitted in Sudan,” said Cléa Kahn-Sriber, the head of RSF’s Africa desk.

“After the media were banned from discussing economic reforms and the conflict in Darfur, will it now be impossible for women to talk about their health? And yet publicly threatening a journalist seems to pose no problem! We urge the authorities to do what is necessary to protect Al-Nur and the rest of Al-Tayar’s personnel and to condemn these calls for hate and violence.”

Al-Nur has filed a complaint against Al-Tayeb, accusing him of inciting hatred and extremism. El Tayar has stood by Al-Nur, requesting police protection for her. But, to RSF’s knowledge, no protective measures have so far been taken.

Faisal ElBagir, the coordinator of the Journalists Association for Human Rights (JAHR), attributed the virulence of the response to Al-Nur’s column to her sex. “If a man had written this column, he would not have gotten such a fierce reaction,” he said.

Al Tayar has paid a high price of being outspoken. The authorities have often confiscated entire issues as they came off the press and its editor, Osman Mirghani, was beaten unconscious in July 2014 after referring to the normalization of relations with Israel during a radio debate.

The security services closed the newspaper in December 2015 after it criticized the finance ministry in an editorial. In May 2014, it was suspended again for four months without any grounds being given.

Sudan is ranked near the bottom of RSF’s2016 World Press Freedom Index (174th out of 180 countries) and President Al-Bashir is on RSF’s 2016 list of press freedom predators.

aseye.assenna@googlemail.com

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7 COMMENTS
  • Aregawi February 22, 2017

    I respect the Sudanis people but I am on the opinion that, freedom of religion and freedom speech(not hate) are equally important. Women and Men are born equal. So the sudanis people should know that we are in the 21st Century and we must adjust accordingly.

  • Hadi February 22, 2017

    The regime in Sudan is as bad as that of Eritrea.
    The two bankrupt men are resisting change by any means possible , even when those in the ranks of the two totalitarian ruling parties now are living on bribes, after they emptied financial resources of their respective governments.

    • Sol February 23, 2017

      Regime’s such as of Bashir and Isayas will never hestiate tocreate criminals under the name of religion to silence their opponents.

  • AHMED SALEH !!! February 22, 2017

    Current president of USA called the media ” ENEMIES OF PEOPLE ” to defend his authoritarian
    agenda but they are protected by constitutional law of freedom of speech . But in Eritrea , Ethiopia
    and Sudan they are in deed victims of political conspiracy to get accused with treason by their
    corrupted governments that survive on suppressing independent journalists .

  • Hagosa February 22, 2017

    It is amazing to see this brave Woman in the ignorant slavish Jihadi Sudan mens world. Women are treated so badly in the Jihadi Muslim nations, many are still not allowed to leave the house without a man let alone drive a car.
    And many with slavish mentality who run away from the savage Arab world are still praising the Arab world and burning their own languages such as Tigre.
    — Al-Nur’s column said: “Islamic regimes are preoccupied with matters of virtue, women’s dress, appearance, more than health and education issues.”

  • Nada February 23, 2017

    Teklay, is it the first time that you are using a female name?

  • Haile February 28, 2017

    The law against humanity Sheria shouldn’t encouraged any where especially on our land. I feel fear when I see my fellow country men and women gives a critisim comment on the poeple not on ground base of the system the Sheriaa law that gave a chance bad people to take advantege over a good ones.

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