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Court seizes magazine, suspends distribution

(MFWA/IFEX) - On 3 June 2009, a magistrate's court in Dakar, the capital of Senegal, suspended distribution of the June 2009 edition of "L'Essentiel", a monthly current affairs magazine, and ordered its seizure over headlines on the cover page that the court claimed were an "insult" to President Abdoulaye Wade.

According to the presiding magistrate, the headlines "Freemasonry: The Grand Lodge of France Conquers Senegal", "Nine years after the power change, the state is exploding, the Mourides are in control and Touba is suffering", were not only insulting to President Wade but also "likely to disturb public order".

Media Foundation for West Africa's (MFWA) correspondent reported that the court's decision was based on Article 820-1 of the rules of civil procedure, which allows for the "outright suspension" of any publication that is liable to "disturb public peace".

The correspondent said that the June edition attracted the attention of authorities after a teaser was run in "L'As" and "L'Observateur", two privately-owned newspapers, on 26 May and 28 May respectively.

Following publication of the teaser, the country's police commissioner requested a copy of the magazine, which was then printing, and ordered the printers to halt the publication. Mustapha Sow, managing editor of "L'Essentiel" was subsequently summoned for interrogation by the Criminal Investigations Department on 27 May.

In a communiqué issued on 29 May, the Council of Broadcasters and Newspaper Publishers declared its solidarity with Sow and urged him to formally notify the printers and appeal for the lifting of the suspension.

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