War against Press is On

Alaa Kamal
16/11/2009
War against the press in the Arab countries is as fierce as never before.  The heavy club  of prevention and control is  braking any newspaper or print media going beyond the lines drawn by regimes of theses countries. Any newspaper that dares to expose corruption or take an anti-torture stance or defend human rights as per international conventions and treaties is prone to be banned or at least seized by an issue.
     Algeria Times, an electronic independent newspaper, the location of the international reality and the media and the location and the freedoms and rights on the location of Al-Jazeera, published that  the biweekly journal '”Sirry Lelghaya”, ”strictly confidential”, has been suspended last week, by order of the prosecutor at the Court of Sidi Mohamed capital. The editor considered this order as abusive  as the journal reported on corruption of the mayor of Central Algeria.

The editorial staff  was surprised to be notified of the  report by the head of the Criminal Division of the department of the Center state.  interest of the judicial police for the security of the province of Algiers, who notified the editor of the decision  of the prosecutor at the Court of Sidi M'Hamed to withhold “Sirry Lelghaya”, starting 3/11/2009, cliaiming it is unlicensed. The vague wording of the decision did not specify whether  the newspaper , which has been operating for  months was unlicensed  or that authorities canceled the license.
 The editor , Nassim AlQifl ,  was astonished that such a  decision would be issued  this way, knowing that the prosecutor has received permission to issue the  publication in Arabic and French, entitled ' Al Monaqsa (tenders), on 22/5/2004.  “Sirry Lelghaya “ is a supplement  to the paper.  
He claimed that the decision was because of a report titled “Mayors ..from the  Dream of entering the school to the professors of wasting public funds”, in the latest issue # 19.  it said that one elected member of the municipal board had sufficient evidence of embezzlements in the municipality of central Algeria. Directly after published , the editor received threats form the mayor. The editor requested the president to intervene in order to protect freedom of press and expression which he advocates in his program.
 The supplement  has 20 journalists and many correspondents. The national union of the Algerian journalists issued a statement  denouncing the decision and stated  that the banning comes at a time when the Algerian media needs more openness. It  considered that the decision of banning the newspaper (which is published fortnightly and has released 19 issues) “raises a question about the independence of the institutions and bodies responsible for regulating media. He added that this decision reflects these institutions subordination to the state."

The Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI) declared the current situation of the Algerian press as “catastrophic”. Now, a mayor has the authority to close down the supplement of newspapers, though its report is based on sufficient evidence. This occurs within the framework of the government public policy of silencing the masses. In a statement it
 stressed that, “The banning is a step backwards taken by the Algerian government to threaten the freedom of the press and freedom of expression”. He called on the government to reconsider the banning and open an investigation in what was reported in the newspaper which accused officials of misusing of public funds.”