World Bulletin / News Desk
Somali journalists have found themselves in a fix, with the government banning the use of the name "Al-Shabaab" to refer to the armed group, while the gunmen are threatening anyone who refers to them using a term coined by the government.
"We are caught between a rock and a hard place. That is the situation Somali journalists find themselves in," Hussein Mohamed, a Somali freelance journalist based in Mogadishu, told.
Somali Intelligence Chief Abdirahman Mohamud last week ordered journalists to use the acronym "UGUS" – which stands for "the group that subjects the Somali people to humiliation" – when referring to Al-Shabaab.
But in a subsequent statement, the Al-Qaeda-linked group dismissed the new acronym as an "insult," threatening to "respond appropriately" to anyone who used it.
Al-Shabaab, which means "the youth" in Arabic, assumed this name after the defeat of the Islamic Courts Union in 2007.
"Being a journalist in Somalia is dangerous enough," said Mohamed. "And the government has made it more dangerous by forcing us to use the word UGUS."
"After Al-Shabaab's warning, I chose to avoid covering any story on the group," Mohamed told.
"I take their threats seriously, because I have seen journalists killed in this country," he said.
Media organizations intend to petition the government to have the order reversed.
"The media should work under no intimidation or interference at all," Ismail Omar, chairman of the Mogadishu Independent Newspaper Association, told.
"It is ironic that these orders were issued on World Press Freedom Day," he fumed.
The National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ) has called on both the government and Al-Shabaab to halt the intimidation of journalists.
"Journalism must thrive in Somalia," NUSOJ said in a statement.
"The days in which journalists are harassed, intimidated, brutalized, jailed or even killed outright should belong to the past," it added.
A source at the Interior Ministry said ministry officials would advise the government to revise the order.
"It's a dangerous order that puts journalists at risk," the official, who sought anonymity because of his rank, told AA.
"It's a dangerous order, especially now that the terrorists have issued a warning," added the official.Last Mod: 07 Mayıs 2015, 12:42