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Middle East
Court fines Yemeni over cartoons
Yemeni editor is fined for reprinting cartoons of Prophet Muhammad.
Last Modified: 13 Dec 2006 14:42 GMT
Al-Assadi sits with journalists accused of
re-publishing the cartoons

A Yemeni court has fined a newspaper editor 500,000 rials ($2,541) for reprinting cartoons of Prophet Muhammad, which provoked outrage among Muslims around the world earlier this year.

 

The court found Muhammad al-Asaadi, editor-in-chief of the English language daily Yemen Observer, guilty of denigrating Islam.

Al-Asaadi has said he reprinted the satirical caricatures to show how insulting they were.

 

Mohammed Alaw, al-Asaadi's lawyer, said after the ruling: "The judge has made a mistake ... The guilty verdict in this case is what harms the image of Islam."

The defence and prosecution both said they would appeal against the ruling.

 

Editor jailed

 

Last month, a Yemeni court sentenced Kamal al-Aalafi, editor of Al-Rai al-Aam newspaper, to one year in prison for reprinting the cartoons, which first appeared in a Danish daily in September 2005.

 

Al-Aalafi expressed his disappointment and frustration with the change of attitude of the public prosecutor and the serious actions taken against him.

 

"We can't appeal our case while I am free and the paper is working. It means that there's no safe environment for journalists and media to operate. It means we go bankrupt and stop journalism," he said.

 

A group of journalists formed a lobbying network, the Yemeni Journalists Syndicate, to put pressure on the executive authority to cancel the outstanding cases of the three editors and their newspapers.

 

They urged their union leadership to arrange an open meeting for journalists, parliamentarians, human rights and freedoms activists, NGO representatives and political parties.

 

The cartoons, one of which depicted the prophet with a bomb in his turban, were seen by many as blasphemous and sparked protests early in 2006. More than 50 people were killed in Asia, Africa and the Middle East in the unrest.

 

The editor of Al-Hurriya, another Yemeni publication, faces similar charges despite promises from Ali Abdullah Saleh, the Yemeni president, to scrap jail terms for journalists convicted of violations in publishing.

Source:
Al Jazeera and agencies
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