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Sudan6 September 2006

Editor of Khartoum paper kidnapped and murdered

Reporters Without Borders expressed horror at the murder on 6 September 2006, of Mohamed Taha, editor of the privately-owned Sudanese daily al-Wifaq, who was snatched from his home east of Khartoum by masked men the previous evening.

Police recovered his decapitated body in Kalakala district about 25 kms south of the capital. His family had immediately reported his abduction to the police after he was bundled into a Japanese make of car and driven away.

Taha was tried for “blasphemy” in 2005, on the basis of a complaint by a fundamentalist group, Ansar al-Sunnah. The article that offended them related to a more than five-centuries-old Islamic manuscript entitled “the unknown in the life of the prophet” and which cast doubt on the prophet’s ancestry.

Major demonstrations were organised by the imams of Khartoum demanding that the journalist, himself a member of the Muslim Brotherhood, be killed. The paper was suspended for two months.

The manuscript was apparently originally written by Al-Maqrizi, a Muslim historian, and it told that the father of Mohammed was not called Abdallah but Abdel Lat, or "slave of Lat", a pre-Islamic idol.

"”We express our solidarity with our colleagues in Khartoum, for whom this cowardly murder is a harsh ordeal. The reforms introduced to restore peace and justice to Sudan will be put at risk if nothing is done to punish this crime,” said Reporters Without Borders. “The Sudanese authorities must do their utmost to see that light is shed on this tragedy, so that both the perpetrators and those who instigated it are brought to trial,” the organisation added.



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