New York, April 9, 2010—Al-Shabaab insurgents in Somalia have banned all BBC broadcasts from the areas they control and confiscated the corporation’s FM transmitters and satellite dishes. Local journalists told CPJ that Al-Shabaab issued a statement today announcing the immediate ban, claiming the BBC carried the “agenda of the crusaders” and “opposed an Islamic administration.”
insurgents took down all of the BBC’s broadcast equipment in five regions: Mogadishu, Beledweyn,
Baidoa, and two locations in lower Shabelle, BBC reporter Mohamed
Olad, right, said. According to Olad, who is also the chairman of the Somali
Foreign Correspondents Association, the BBC had one of the largest audiences in Somalia and the
ban will severely affect the public’s access to information. Local radio
stations operate under strict self-censorship because of intimidation by
Al-Shabaab, local journalists told CPJ.
stations that relay BBC programs also stopped broadcasting the BBC immediately,
the National Union of Somali Journalists
reported. At a Wednesday press conference in the capital, Mogadishu, Information Minister Dahir Mohamud
said that independent journalism was no longer possible due to intimidation and
death threats made by insurgents against journalists, Shabelle Media Network
movements have banned independent and foreign news coverage to curtail negative
reporting,” said CPJ Africa Program Coordinator Tom Rhodes. “Such measures are quickly
diminishing the already small number of critical media outlets that remain in Somalia.”
The BBC has been
operating in Somalia
for more than 50 years. The only other foreign broadcasters with a presence in the
country are Al-Jazeera and a newly launched U.N. radio station, Radio Bar-Kulan.
Since December 2006,
has been embroiled in a conflict primarily between the government and the
Al-Shabaab insurgency. Al-Shabaab controls most of central and southern Somalia and parts of Mogadishu.
were harassed and detained
by Al-Shabaab insurgents in separate incidents across the country last month,
the union reported.