Reporters Without Borders notes the release on bail, on 2 March 2006, of Alok Tomar, editor of the Hindi-language magazine Shabdarth. He had to pay 50,000 rupees (943 euros) and provide a personal surety. He was arrested on 23 February after publishing one of the Danish cartoons of the prophet Mohammed.
A daily suspended in Malaysia for reprinting cartoons
The minister for internal security on 25 February 2006 issued a statement announcing a two-week suspension of the daily Berita Petang Sarawak for publishing a caricature of the Prophet Mohammed, making it the third paper in Malaysia to be suspended for reprinting the Danish cartoons.
The newspaper, which cannot reappear until 11 March, is accused of publishing one of the cartoons in its 4 February edition, illustrating an article headlined, “We are ready for the Jihad” The publication contravenes the 1984 press and publications law, the authorities said.
The two other suspended papers are the Sarawak Tribune and the Guangming Daily.
Indian magazine editor arrested for publishing one of the cartoons
Police in New Delhi arrested Alok Tomar, editor of the Hindi-language magazine Shabdarth on 23 February for publishing one of the cartoons of the prophet that were first printed in Denmark. They also seized hundreds of copies of the magazine. The journalist’s colleagues said that the cartoon had been used to illustrate an article that called on the press not to publish articles and caricatures that were offensive to believers.
Editor sacked in Indonesia for reprinting Mohammed cartoons
David Da Silva, editor of the Christian magazine Gloria, in Surabaya (Java), has been dismissed for reprinting the controversial 12 cartoons of the prophet Mohammed. "As soon as we learned they were in the magazine, we withdrew 8,000 copies from sale," said a management spokesman. "Unfortunately, some had already been bought and sparked strong reaction." Several demonstrations have been
staged in front of the magazine’s offices. Police have questioned Da Silva.
Another daily newspaper suspended for publishing a photo of the cartoons
The government has suspended the evening edition of Chinese-language daily Guangming for two weeks after it published a photograph showing the cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed. The newspaper is banned from appearing from 16 February to 1st March. According to the website Malaysiakini, the newspaper on 3 February published a photo from Agence France-Presse in its evening edition for the north of the country, showing someone reading a newspaper containing a reproduction of the cartoons. The daily’s management withdrew all copies from sale. The suspension order was made by the head of government who is also minister for internal security.
Prophet cartoons: Censorship in Malaysia, Indonesia, Algeria and Yemen
Reporters Without Borders today deplored the Malaysian government’s decision to suspend the Sarawak Tribune daily newspaper’s publishing licence for reprinting the controversial caricatures of the Prophet Mohammed in its 4 February issue. A tabloid in Indonesia was seized by authorities for the same reason.
“This measure is excessive, especially as the newspaper in no way intended to be provocative and reprinted the cartoons simply to complement its news coverage,” Reporters Without Borders said. “The entire staff do not deserve to be punished like this. Although some of these cartoons may be found repulsive, press freedom is once against threatened in this case.”
It was Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi who yesterday ordered the suspension of the Sarawak Tribune’s licence until further notice. The newspaper is based in the eastern province of Sarawak (on the island of Borneo). The New Straits Times newspaper said the entire cabinet shared Badawi’s view that reprinting the “humiliating caricatures” was offensive and required a stern reaction from the government.
Badawi, who is also internal security minister and the current chairman of the Organisation of the Islamic Conference, said reprinting the cartoons was “irresponsible and inhuman” for Muslims and gave a negative image of his country. Representatives of the ministry of internal security and information refused to give the foreign press any comment.
“We foresaw this reaction from the government and we will suspend publication as soon as we are ordered to,” Polit Hamzah of the Sarawak Press Newspaper Group told the Associated Press. The group, which owns the daily, apologised for the decision to publish the cartoons in order to illustrate a report about the ongoing demonstrations in the Muslim world.
The editor present when the decision was taken, Lester Melanyi, a non-Muslim, was interrogated for two hours by the police, who are still investigating to see if a crime was committed. Melanyi resigned a few hours later.
Meanwhile, the authorities in neighboring Indonesia ordered the withdrawal from sale of 3,000 copies of Peta, a tabloid weekly, in which the caricatures had also been reprinted. The police chief said he intended to prosecute the newspaper for “blasphemy.”
Two weeklies, Yemen Observer and Al-Raï Al-Aam, were suspended in Yemen for reprinting the caricatures on 4 and 7 February respectively, while TV journalists were dismissed for screening them in Algeria.