Almost a year after deadly attacks on the satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo in Paris, a new report by Reporters Without Borders calls jihadism "among the world’s worst predators of press freedom."
The Paris-based nonprofit organization on Monday released "Jihad Against Journalists," summarizing efforts by Islamist armed groups such as Islamic State, al-Qaida, Boko Haram and al-Shabab to intimidate and silence journalists – and to repress the societies they cover.
Last January 7, brothers Cherif and Said Kouachi stormed Charlie Hebdo’s offices in Paris, killing eight staff members and four others. Al-Qaida’s branch in the Arabian Peninsula claimed responsibility for the attack.
"As the Charlie Hebdo massacre showed, we are entering a period in which this threat is becoming globalized," Reporters Without Borders' secretary-general, Christophe Deloire, said in statement accompanying the report’s release.
"It will not be possible to protect journalists – and by extension all of the world’s peoples as well – unless there is an all-out effort to oppose ideologies of hate that often have state support," he continued. "Preserving media freedom and independence is clearly a major challenge for the future of humankind."
Some 69 journalists were killed last year alone, with Islamic State and al-Qaida responsible for 28 – or 40 percent – of those deaths, the Committee to Protect Journalists reported last week. That press freedom group said nine journalists died in France, "second only to Syria as the most dangerous country for the press in 2015."
Reporters Without Borders' "press freedom barometer" shows 154 journalists currently imprisoned for displeasing governments or extremist groups.
The organization’s new report explores the origins of jihadists' contempt for journalists, as well as efforts to eliminate a free press and to create propaganda promoting an extreme form of Islam.
The report includes the Islamic State's "11 commandments" for journalists, first of which is swearing "allegiance to the caliph." These rules forbid journalists from working for TV channels "fighting Islamic countries," RSF says, and require them to clear any stories with IS media offices before release.
Violators face arrest, kidnapping, summary executions and murder.
Special Charlie Hebdo issue
On Wednesday, Charlie Hebdo plans to release a special anniversary edition with a press run of 1 million copies. Its cover shows a bearded figure representing God, with an automatic weapon slung over his shoulder. Its headline: "The assassin is still out there."
Despite such bravado, a survivor of the Charlie Hebdo attacks said he and other of the remaining 20 staffers "feel terribly alone" in challenging militant extremists..
"We had hoped that others would do satire, too," financial director Eric Portheault told the Agence-France Presse news agency in a story released Monday. "No one wants to join us in this fight because it's dangerous. You can die doing it."