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Bangladesh-Indonesia 14 February 2002

The magazine Newsweek censored

Update - February 14, 2002

On February 13, the Malaysian government also prohibited distribution of the February 11 edition of Newsweek in the country. According to Deputy Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, publications that include photographs of the prophet Mohammed violate the laws of the country, and therefore cannot be "authorized".

In two letters addressed respectively to the Minister of Information of Bangladesh, Docter Abdul Moyeen Khan, and to the Minister of Information of Indonesia, H. Syamsul Mu’arif, Reporters sans Frontières (RSF - Reporters without Borders) protested over the censorship of the last issue of the weekly magazine, Newsweek. "Aware that the representation of Muslim prophets is forbidden, our organisation nevertheless considers that the censorship of this international magazine is in the first place an attack on the free flow of information. Furthermore, this measure deprives non-Muslims and foreigners residing in your country of an internationally well known publication", declared Robert Ménard, general secretary of RSF. The organisation has urged the two ministers to do everything in their power in order that this edition of Newsweek is distributed to subscribers and made available in the kiosks.

According to information gathered by RSF, the government of Bangladesh prohibited, on the 7th of February 2002, the publication of the American magazine Newsweek dated on the 11th of February. Policemen confiscated copies of the magazine that had arrived in the country. According to a statement issued by the Press Information Department, this decision was followed by the publication, in this issue, of a photograph of a Turkish manuscript showing the prophet Mohammed with the angel Gabriel, illustrated with a comparitive feature on Islam and Christianity. According to the authorities, this representation of Mohammed is likely to "shock devout persons". Already in September 2000, an issue of Newsweek including an article on Islam was banned in Bangladesh.

In Indonesia, PT Indoprom, a distribution company, decided to stop the circulation in the country of the Newsweek issue dating the 11th of February. According to one of the managers of PT Indoprom, questioned by the daily newspaper Jakarta Post, this decision was taken after consulting the Indonesian Council of Ulemas. The ten thousand subscribers of Newsweek are thus going to receive a note informing them that the magazine will not be distributed so long as the contents of the article have not been examined by the Ulemas and the National press council. An official of the Indonesian Council of Ulemas asserted to the Jakarta Post that he "has the power to prohibit the publication if he considers that the article insults Muslims".


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