Death threats sent to journalists in PA

Threats come from groups protesting coverage of lawlessness in PA-run areas.

January 8, 2006 19:45
3 minute read.
fatah gunmen 298 88 ap

fatah gunmen 298 88 ap. (photo credit: AP [file])


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Several Palestinian journalists in the West Bank and Gaza Strip have received death threats from various armed groups over the past few days because of their coverage of the state of lawlessness and anarchy in Palestinian Authority-controlled areas. Deputy Information Minister Ahmed Suboh condemned the threats, pointing out that a number of press offices had received letters containing threats against journalists. A journalist who asked not to be named told The Jerusalem Post that groups affiliated with Hamas and Fatah were behind the threats. "We are taking these threats very seriously," he said. "Many of the journalists are afraid." A source in the PA Information Ministry said that among those who received death threats are journalists working for Agence France Press, Hizbullah's Al-Manar TV and the independent Palestinian news agency Ramattan. A group of journalists in the Gaza Strip issued a statement on Sunday expressing deep concern over the threats. "We reject all forms of intellectual terrorism, regardless of who stands behind them," the statement said. PA security officials confirmed that several Palestinian journalists were being subjected to a "vicious" campaign of intimidation. "Some factions and armed groups are responsible for the campaign of intimidation and terror against local and foreign journalists," said one official. "They want the journalists to serve as their mouthpieces and are trying to prevent them from reporting the truth." A journalist working for Ramattan said the agency had received threats from Hamas, but did not elaborate. Another freelance reporter complained that he had received death threats from an armed group belonging to Fatah because of his coverage of the election campaign. On Saturday night, a group of Fatah gunmen tried to storm the offices of the pan-Arab Al-Arabiyah TV station in Gaza City in protest against the airing of a documentary on Muslim female suicide bombers. The gunmen, who belong to Fatah's armed wing, the Aksa Martyrs Brigades, accused the Dubai-based station of defaming female suicide bombers by presenting them as victims of social and psychological problems. The gunmen left the offices shortly after PA security forces arrived at the scene. One of the gunmen later claimed that Al-Arabiyah had agreed to broadcast another film praising the phenomenon of suicide bombings. The Aksa Martyrs Brigades threatened over the weekend to close down the offices of Al-Arabiyah in the West Bank and Gaza Strip after accusing it of "defaming" Palestinian female suicide bombers and their families. Leaflets distributed by the group demanded that the station apologize to the families in particular and the Palestinians in general within 24 hours or else its offices would be closed. "At a time when the Muslims and Islam are facing a political, intellectual, economic and social offensive by all the forces of evil in the world, Al-Arabiyah has aired a scandalous and despicable film that is completely biased in favor of the executioner at the expense of the victims of occupation," the leaflets charged. "This film depicts female suicide bombers as a group of women suffering from psychological problems and who are under pressure from males. It claims that in order to rid themselves of these problems, these women are prepared to kill themselves. They also claimed that these women were ill-behaved." On Sunday, the Palestinian Journalists Syndicate joined the Brigades in condemning Al-Arabiyah for airing the "biased" film, praising Palestinian women for their part in the fight against Israel. However, the syndicate also expressed opposition to the threats to close down the station's offices. The controversial film tells the story of female suicide bombers in Iraq, Russia, Afghanistan and the Palestinian territories. One of the women interviewed for the film is Nawal El Saadawi, a leading Egyptian feminist, sociologist, medical doctor and militant writer on Arab women's problems. One of her famous works, The Hidden Face of Eve, covers a host of topics relative to Arab women such as aggression against female children and female genital mutilation, prostitution, sexual relationships, marriage and divorce and Islamic fundamentalism.

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