Africa

Nigerian TV station shut down

Nigerian TV station, Channels TV has been shut down, and six of its managers arrested, after it broadcast a hoax report claiming the president would step down due to his poor health.

The report was attributed to the News Agency of Nigeria (Nan). The agency has denied that the report came from them and said a false e-mail address had been used.

According to Channels TV:

The armed state security personnel got into  the master control room and ordered men at the control room to stop  transmitting and sent every one they found to the Station’s News room.

Members of staff, clients and innocent  bystanders were held hostage in the Newsroom for about three hours.

The News agency claimed that [the story] must have  been the handiwork of impersonators who they said sent out the message in their  name.

Channels also promptly reported the refutal  by the Presidential spokesman Mr. Segun Adeniyi who described the report as a  blunderous lie. The refutal was aired within minutes of the earlier scrolled  news report.

The same SSS treatment was meted out to the  Channels staff in our Abuja station. The security men arrested six top members  of staff and four are still being held in the SSS offices in both Lagos and  Abuja.

Rumours have surrounded the presidents health and his ability to do the job for some time. He has twice been flown to Germany for emergency medical treatment in the last 18 months and, last month, went to a hospital in Saudi Arabia for treatment.

Denmark evacuates embassies

Denmark has evacuated (via) staff from its embassies in Algeria and Afghanistan to secret safe locations because of an imminent threat. The Danish Security and Intelligence Service are concerned about an aggravated terror threat level against Danish interests following the reprinting earlier this year of Kurt Westergaards Mo-Toon as a protest over a plot to murder the cartoonist.

Motoon II: Another update

First the good news. Aleksandr Sdvizhkov, the editor in Belarus who was jailed for publishing the Muhammed cartoons back in 2006 has been released.

More than a 1,000 (mainly small and local) Danish websites were hacked by some individual calling himself United Arab Hackers and reportedly from Saudi Arabia. The websites of international companies based in Denmark, such as Lurpak and Carlsberg, were not affected.

Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir is threatening to expel Danish organizations, snub its officials and boycott the countrys products in reaction to the republished cartoons. Denmarks foreign aid minister is considering whether this might have consequences for Danish aid (130.2 million kroner last year) to the African country.

Bahrainis took to the streets and the Federation of Islamic Organizations in Europe jumped on the bandwagon.

With thanks to Media Watch Watch (twice) and The Comics Reporter.

Updated

The Vatican and the Al-Azhar university in Cairo have issued a joint statement condeming (via) the republication of the cartoon but studiously avoiding any mention of the foiled murder plot against the 72-year-old cartoonist which prompted the republications.

A little outrage goes a long way

Back in August, an amateur video of a Nigerian film actress in a sex scene prompted an outcry in the mainly Muslim state of Kano and led to 17 actors - who had no connection to the video - being expelled from the Kano state Filmmakers’ Association for being immoral.

A month an a half later, the Kano State Censorship Board is still milking this for all its worth, extending the suspension earlier imposed on film production in the state from three to six months and reeling out new restrictive measures to check the film industry.

Addressing a press briefing on Friday, the new executive secretary of the board, Malam Abubakar Rabo Abdulkarim, explained that the extension of the suspension became necessary in order to enable his administration introduce new measures for the improvement of film production in the state, adding that the policy would be vigorously monitored by the board to ensure stringent penalties for defaulters.

The board has created additional guidelines for registration of production companies, artistes, internet cafés, publishers and authors and has cancelled singing and dancing of any kind in Hausa films. No producer will be allowed to go to location for filming without his script being approved by a recognised consultant and vetted by the board.

Members of the Kano State Association of Printers have also been advised to make sure that before they print any book or poster meant for public use they must obtain a clearance from the board.

These rules also affect authors, publishers, bookshops, poster sellers, distributors and vendors, all of whom are expected to register with the board in compliance with the requirements of the Censorship Board Law 2001.

Sanitised out of existence

After the artificial outrage over an amateur video of a Nigerian film actress in a sex scene, the government of Nigerias predominantly Muslim state of Kano has called for a one-year ban on local film-making to sanitise the industry.

The states Filmmakers Association has already expelled 17 of its members for suspected involvement in immoral acts, even though they were not connected to the clip and the actress in question is currently in hiding.

Outraged again

An amateur video of a Nigerian film actress in a sex scene has caused an outcry in the north of the country, prompting a movie industry body to expel actors deemed immoral, according to Reuters.

Muslim clerics have condemned the clip and radio programs have been full of complaints about immorality in the film industry. The actress, who was not named by the paper, has gone into hiding, Leadership said.

Nigerias hugely successful home video industry, known as Nollywood, is mostly based in the south of the country which is predominantly Christian and considered less conservative.

In the past few years a Hausa-language home video industry has sprung up in the north and has also become very popular.

Leadership newspaper said the Kano state Filmmakers Association had reacted to the scandal over the sex video by expelling 17 actors - who had no connection to the video - deemed to have brought the industry into ill repute.

Emmanuelle and the Christian nutters

Christian groups in South Africa have decided to be outraged over the presence of late-night porn on public television and held a protest (via) outside the studios of E-TV on Saturday.

Members of Africa Christian Action, Christians for Truth and several other mission organizations and churches demanded the network remove pornography from its programming, pointing to clinics which link child sex abuse cases to pornography.

“We have had e-nough! Porn on free-to-air national TV is outrageous,” said Taryn Hodgson, international coordinator of the Christian Action Network, in a statement.

“There are many parentless homes in South Africa and many homes where children are not supervised as to what TV they are watching. R18 restrictions are not enough to prevent children from watching these films.”

Christian Action Network – a conservative umbrella organization mobilizing Christians to protest against pornography, abortion, and same-sex union in the country – demonstrated and prayed outside the e-TV studios in Cape Town Saturday morning. They claim - untruthfully - that there is a link between porn and sexual abuse.

Not surprisingly, E-TV has pointed out that there is no evidence that these films contribute to sexual crimes and that they were broadcasting the films in the appropriate time slot.

Christian groups are planning to hold protests outside the E-TV studios in Durban and Bloemfontein this month.

A bullet in the mail

Zimbabwean newspaper editor Bill Saidi has been sent a bullet in the post with a note warning: Watch Your Step. Enclosed with the bullet was a copy of a cartoon from his paper, The Standard, showing three baboons laughing over an army salary slip.

Earlier, the same paper had reported that many soldiers are deserting the army and moving to South Africa to work as security guards for better pay.

Mr Saidi told the BBC the bullet was a clear case of intimidation.

I was shocked to see the bullet. Someone was trying to send a dreadful message to us, the acting editor of the private weekly said.

After receiving the anonymous warning, Mr Saidi said the army had written to him requesting a meeting to familiarise itself with the operations of the paper.

A date would certainly be put aside for the meeting, he said.

In recent years the authorities in Zimbabwe have introduced increasingly strict media laws and closed down several newspapers that were critical of the government. The Standard is one of the few to survive, so far.

The cartoon that prompted the threat can be seen below.

Editor arrested for criticising press restrictions

On 12th January, Agnès Uwimana Nkusi, the editor of the privately-owned bimonthly Umurabyo was arrested and is currently being held at the Muhima district police station in Kigali.

Arrested by police on the orders of the Nyarugenge prosecutor’s office on charges of “sectarianism” and “discrimination,” Nkusi was interrogated by the deputy prosecutor about an open letter to independent journalists on the subject of press freedom violations, which she published in issue No. 11 of Umurabyo.

The police said the authorities intended to arrest her sources and bring the same charges against them.

Umurabyo is one of the very few Kigali-based publications that criticise the government. There was already controversy over an article in the preceding issue headlined: “You have problems if you kill a Tutsi, but you go free if you kill a Hutu.” The government controlled High Council of the Press ruled that Umurabyo should be suspended for three months because of the article.

Fundamentalists afraid to confront their demons

Egypt, Tunisia and Turkey have banned the latest issue of the French bimonthly magazine Historia Thématique, which looks at religious fundamentalism.

The Tunisian authorities announced their ban on January 10th, claiming that it was due to a picture of Muhammed which is “formally forbidden in Islam and could offend the religious feelings of Tunisians.” The picture in question comes from an illustrated copy of the Koran dating from 1583 which can be found in the Museum of Turkish and Islamic Arts in Istanbul.

The January issue of Historia, a monthly produced by the same publishing house, has been on sale without any problem although it has an illustration showing Mohammed in partially animal form (with feathers and the tail of a fish).

Historia editor Pierre Baron told Reporters Without Borders that the reaction to the Historia Thématique issue was indicative of the current climate of intolerance. He pointed out that the issue was also about Christian and Jewish fundamentalism, adding that his staff decided that fundamentalism was an appropriate subject because of the increasing frequency of cases of offence being taken on the grounds of religious sensibilities.

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