The Mohamed cartoons printed in the international media angered the government, which targeted local papers that reproduced them, thus displaying its old authoritarian habits.
More than six months after a Danish newspaper printed 12 cartoons of the Prophet Mohamed in September 2005, the independent weeklies Al-Huriya, The Yemen Observer and Al Rai Al Aam were shut down for three months for reprinting some or all of them as part of reporting on the different reactions to them in the Muslim world. Their editors were prosecuted under article 103 of the press law banning publication of anything “harming the Islamic faith or denigrating a monotheistic religion or humanitarian belief.”
Mohammed Al Asaadi, editor of the The Yemen Observer, was arrested on 10 February 2006 and held for two weeks before being released on bail. He was fined 500,000 rials (€1,980) on 6 December.
Also arrested on 10 February were Abdel Halim Akram Sabra, editor of Al-Huriya, and his reporter Yahya al-Aabed, who spent three weeks in prison before being freed on bail and then were each given suspended sentences of four months in prison and a month-long ban on working as journalists by a Sanaa court on 13 December. The paper was also given a one-month suspended order to shut down. Kamal Alufi, editor of Al Rai Al Aam, was sentenced to a year in prison on 25 November but remained free pending his appeal.
A French freelance journalist, Daniel Grandclément-Chaffy, was held for five days after being arrested on 12 October for “illegally entering the country” after accompanying a boatload of clandestine Somali immigrants that landed in the country, even though he had a valid entry visa.