News / Africa

Somali Journalists say Islamists are Wiping Out Free Flow of Information

Multimedia

Audio
TEXT SIZE - +

A Somali media-rights group says fighting between Islamist militants and the country's U.N.-backed government is about to explode in a propaganda war for the hearts and minds of the Somali people.

The secretary general of the National Union of Somali Journalists, Omar Faruk Osman, says three of Mogadishu's 14 radio stations are now under the control of Islamist militants. Osman says there is no question the militants are determined to wipe out independent reporting in the country.

"This is a wider campaign to take over all private radio stations, and our main concern is that this will be used as a tool for hate media that we know there will be a negative effect on society," Osman said.

Radio stations in Mogadishu

On Saturday, armed fighters loyal to extremist al-Shabab and Hizbul Islam groups forcibly took over two private radio stations in the capital.

Al-Shabab fighters raided the offices of HornAfrick in Mogadishu's al-Shabab-controlled Bakara Market.  Separately, Hizbul Islam fighters entered the headquarters of Global Broadcasting Corporation in the Heliwa district of the capital and took over its radio and television studios.  A month ago, al-Shabab took over the management of another privately-owned station, Radio Holy Quran, after delivering a threatening letter.

Islamc Insurgents

Since 2007, al-Shabab has been leading an insurgency to topple the U.N.-backed Transitional Federal Government in Mogadishu, aiming to create an ultra-conservative Islamic state throughout southern and central Somalia and beyond.  
The al-Qaida-linked group controls much of the south and large areas of the capital. But it has been unable to seize the whole of Mogadishu and key installations such as the airport and seaport, which are protected by more than 7,000 African Union peacekeeping troops.

During the recent Islamic holy month of Ramadan, the group vowed to wage what it described as a "massive" and "final" war against the government and peacekeepers. It sent suicide bombers to attack the airport and a hotel popular with government officials. It bombarded the presidential palace with mortars, managing, at one point, to briefly seize the main road that connects the palace to the airport.

But after weeks of fighting that left hundreds of people dead and wounded, neither side has been able to declare victory over the other.

Spread misinformation

With the ground war at a stalemate, Osman says he believes al-Shabab now wants to control the airwaves and spread false information that could help the militants gain the upper hand.  

"The media will be used to wage war, to inflame hostilities, to instill fear in the hearts of the people," Osman added. "The other concern we also have is [the] increasing attempts to infiltrate media houses. They are knocking on doors of media houses, offering 'I will work for you free of charge.' Or trying to recruit some of the security guards of the media houses. So that is our concern now."  

Osman says there is also a possibility that the Somali Transitional Federal Government will be tempted to counter al-Shabab's propaganda war by trying to manipulate and censor the media just as harshly.  

In June, eight journalists were wounded in Mogadishu by an explosion that ripped through a press conference being held by al-Shabab. Somali and international media watchdogs accused government troops of launching the attack to silence the journalists.

You May Like

Multimedia Anti-Keystone XL Protests Continue

Demonstrators are worried about pipeline's effect on climate change, their traditional way of life, health and safety More

Thailand's Political Power Struggle Continues

Court gave Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra until May 2 to prepare her defense over abuse of power charges but uncertainty remains over election timing More

Malaysia Plane Search Tests Limits of Ocean Mapping Technology

Expert tells VOA existing equipment’s maximum operating depth is around 6 kilometers as operation continues on ocean bed for any trace of MH370 More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Messagei
X
Penelope Poulou
April 22, 2014 5:53 PM
Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Message

Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pro-Russian Separatists Plan 'Federalization Referendum' in Eastern Ukraine

Pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine say they plan to move forward next month with a referendum vote for greater autonomy, despite the Geneva agreement reached with Russia, the U.S. and Ukraine to end the political conflict. VOA's Brian Padden reports from the city of Donetsk in Eastern Ukraine.
Video

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

French filmmaker Luc Jacquet won worldwide acclaim for his 2005 Academy Award-winning documentary "March of the Penguins". Now Jacquet is back with a new film that takes movie-goers deep into the heart of a tropical rainforest - not only to celebrate its grandeur, but to make the case for its survival. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Boston Marathon Bittersweet for Many Runners

Monday's running of the Boston Marathon was bittersweet for many of the 36,000 participants as they finished the run that was interrupted by a double bombing last year. Many gathered along the route paid respect to the four people killed as a result of two bombings near the finish line. VOA's Carolyn Presutti returned to Boston this year to follow two runners, forever changed because of the crimes.
Video

Video International Students Learn Film Production in World's Movie Capital

Hollywood - which is part of Los Angeles - is the movie capital of the world, and many aspiring filmmakers go there in hopes of breaking into the movie business. Mike O'Sullivan reports that regional universities are also a magnet for students who hope to become producers or directors.
Video

Video Pacific Rim Trade Deal Proves Elusive

With the U.S.-led war in Iraq ended and American military involvement in Afghanistan winding down, President Barack Obama has sought to pivot the country's foreign policy focus towards Asia. One aspect of that pivot is the negotiation of a free-trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations. But as Obama leaves this week on a trip to four Asian countries he has found it very difficult to complete the trade pact. VOA's Ken Bredemeier has more from Washington.
Video

Video Autistic Adults Face Housing, Job Challenges

Many parents of children with disabilities fear for the future of their adult child. It can be difficult to find services to help adults with disabilities - physical, mental or emotional - find work or live on their own. The mother of an autistic boy set up a foundation to advocate for the estimated 1.2 million American adults with autism, a developmental disorder that causes communication difficulties and often social difficulties. VOA's Faiza Elmasry reports.
AppleAndroid