SOMALI'S extremist group Al-Shabaab, is taking the battle to media newsrooms, individual journalists, advertisers and even the airwaves, issuing what it calls new directives to govern what goes on air, writes Dennis Itumbi for journalism.co.za.
Any journalist who defies the new rules, the group threatens, "will be killed."
Al-ShabaabÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s newly appointed information officer for the Gedo region of southwestern Somalia, Abdullahi Gardhuub, convened a press conference in Belet-Hawo town where he read the journalists a new list of edicts.
The eight edicts read, "Hence forth no music will be aired on Radio."
Further, "all music that has often been used to advertise any commercial product or for an advertisement program should be replaced with Islamic songs or 'Anaashid'."
The group also sought to dictate how they should beÃƒâ€šÃ‚Â covered by the press saying, "the Information Officer cannot be telephoned by the media or be quoted as a source of information despite the magnitude of the information, unless the officer himself calls the radio station or journalist and orders them to report as he wishes."
Warning, "Al-Shabaab and its leadership have sworn in the name of Allah (God), that if any journalist or media house, airs information against the Islamic administration, such journalist shall be killed."
In efforts to monopolize coverage the group said: "Journalists and media houses must not refer to Ahlu-Sunna Wal-Jama (a rival religious grouping) as religious clerics. That the media should, instead, refer to them as ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œSuufisÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â or grave worshippers. "
"In the event that the government forces and the Al-Shabaab are fighting, the media should refer to the Al-Shabaab as ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œMujaahidiinsÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â or martyrs."
The group also sought to control the source of information that can be used by media houses directing that, "the media in the region cannot report any information from outside the border town.
The last edict reads: "The media is not allowed to interview any ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œMurtadÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â or ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œinfidelÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â – the term used by the group forÃƒâ€šÃ‚Â any member of the Transitional Federal Government.
The Gedo region gags follow similar ones imposed on Radio Markabley in Bardhere town in the same regionÃƒâ€šÃ‚Â a month ago.