23 September 2004
Militiamen raid Mogadishu radio station
(RSF/IFEX) - RSF has condemned a 22 September 2004 raid by militiamen on a local FM radio station in Mogadishu, in which a security guard was roughed up and a journalist was threatened and detained. The operation was ordered by a local Islamic court, after being prompted by a dispute between two businessmen.
Although a transitional Parliament was finally inaugurated in late August, Somalia continues to be run by armed groups. Following years of war and the collapse of the state, the judicial vacuum is being filled by Koranic justice and local businessmen operating along clan lines.
"We continue to be horrified that the Somalian capital is still dominated by clan justice based on a military rabble that takes its orders," RSF said. "While waiting for the state to be rebuilt, we call on the Islamic courts, armed bands and businessman not to impose a reign of terror and to respect journalists."
The organisation also appealed to members of the transitional Parliament to take full account of their responsibilities and not waste the opportunity they have been offered. "Somalis must at last be allowed to live in freedom, and journalists should no longer have to fear this kind of summary and abusive pseudo-justice."
The raid took place shortly after 11:00 a.m. (local time) on 22 September, when gunmen packed into two pickup trucks stopped outside the studios of Idaacadda Quriaanka Kariimka station (Radio Holy Koran), in the northern Mogadishu district of Towfiq. Announcing that they had come to arrest the station manager on the orders of the Islamic District Court, they roughed up the building's security guard and accosted the only journalist present, Abdulrahman Abtidon Gabeire.
When Gabeire refused to accompany the militiamen to the office of the Islamic court, they slapped him, fired several shots in the air to intimidate him and then bundled him into one of their vehicles. He spent an hour in the district prison before being released.
The Islamic District Court was convened at the request of a Mogadishu businessman who imports a brand of detergent to supply the Suuq Baiad market. A rival businessman had bought advertising space on Radio Holy Koran, advising consumers not to buy the detergent because it was "false". The enraged importer asked the station to withdraw the ad. When it refused, he turned to the Islamic court, which immediately ordered the raid.