16 October 2003


Official daily "Al-Zahf Al-Akhdar" suspended

Incident details



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(RSF/IFEX) - RSF has asked the Libyan authorities for more information about the suspension of the official newspaper "Al-Zahf Al-Akhdar" ("The Green Step"). The Standing Revolutionary Court suspended the daily on 13 October 2003 for having "damaged national interests and harmed Libya's position", Agence France-Presse reported.

RSF asked officials to explain the reasons for the punitive action and indicate how long the paper's suspension will last. "One wonders what logic there is in suspending an official newspaper which serves the government and whose mistake was to reflect the tenor of Colonel Gaddafi's defamatory statements," said RSF Secretary-General Robert Ménard. "Could this be a concession to Arab states insulted by Gaddafi days before the publication of the incriminating articles?" The organisation also pointed out that there is neither freedom of expression nor independent newspapers in Libya.

"Al-Zahf Al-Akhdar", the organ of Libya's revolutionary committees, as well as other official publications, reportedly criticised and insulted certain Arab countries, including Bahrain and Kuwait. Some articles apparently reported that the kingdom of Bahrain could not be considered "a state, a half state or even a quarter state". Kuwait was apparently defined as a "topographical error, which has never been corrected."

The newspaper's suspension came during a strained political climate between Libya and the Arab states. On 4 October, Colonel Muammar Gaddafi, the Libyan leader, announced a clean break with the Arab states and asked the People's Congress, the Libyan grassroots political structure, to give its agreement to pull Libya out of the Arab League.

In the same speech, Colonel Gaddafi went as far as denying the human qualities of Arabs. His statement produced a damning reply from the Kuwaiti deputy prime minister for cabinet affairs, who told the Kuwaiti newspaper "Al Rai Al-Am", "Muammar Gaddafi will go to hell."


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