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Journalist Ali Yussuf Adan's dilemma

Feb 24, 2010, 10:52 AM

We are enthralled by the report of the arrest of a journalist by Somalia's al Shabaab rebels over the weekend for simply reporting that they had executed a man for delaying his midday prayer.

This is indeed very sad news, and we therefore call for his immediate release. Journalists all over the world, particularly in situations where freedom of the press is under threat  have been subjected to one form of intimidation to cow them down to the whims and caprices of those who wanted to suppress their role as the watchdog of society.

In the case of Ali Yussuf Adanm, he was seized on Sunday in the town of Wanlaweyn and transferred to a prison in the port city of Merka, 90 km (60 miles) south of Mogadishu, according to a statement from the National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ).

Report has it that Adan had reported on local radio that al Shabaab militia in Wanlaweyn conducted the execution on Saturday. What Mr. Adan did was mere reporting of what had happened, and did not in any way create the incident to warrant his arrest.

As Oscar Wilde put it: "The public has an insatiable curiosity to know everything, except what's not worth knowing."

Journalism, conscious of this, and having tradesman-like habits, supplies their demands. There's no doubt that the absence of a free media and the suppression of people's ability to communicate with each other can badly impact on our lives, and thus reduce the quality of human life.

The press also has a major informational role to disseminate knowledge for the public to make informed choices, and to promote accountability for critical scrutiny.

Even the meanest intelligence will not dispute the fact that since from prehistoric days the media has always impacted on our lives and behaviours.

The media is important not only for democracy, but for equitable dispensation of justice. Furthermore, investigative journalism as in the case of Adan can unearth information that helps governments in their day-to-day activities, without which some useful things would go unnoticed or even unknown to the public.

To us, his abduction and detention is just one of a series of threats against freedom of expression, of which we stand to promote and defend.


"A day, an hour of virtuous liberty is worth a whole eternity in bondage."

Joseph Addison