Sudanese authorities block distribution of Al-Jarida newspaper

Sudanese authorities block distribution of Al-Jarida newspaper
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Sudanese authorities block distribution of Al-Jarida newspaper

Sudanese authorities should allow the privately owned Al-Jarida newspaper to be distributed freely and cease its ongoing campaign against critical journalists in the country, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today. Agents from the National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS) held up distribution of the paper on the morning of June 6 until 7:00 a.m., preventing physical copies of the paper from being shipped throughout the country and eventually leading the newspaper’s staff to cancel distribution, the newspaper said in a post on its Facebook page.

Al-Jarida Editor-in-Chief Ashraf Abdelaziz told independent Sudanese broadcaster Radio Dabanga that an NISS agent came to the newspaper’s printing press in Khartoum early in the morning and asked to see five copies of the newspaper. The agent then told one of Al-Jarida‘s employees present at the press that the newspaper could not be distributed before 7:00 a.m. The NISS agent cited articles about increases in the prices of beans and bread, as well as a recent attack on a market in Sudan’s Darfur region, Radio Dabanga and the Sudan Tribune reported.

Editorial staff of the Sudanese newspaper al-Jarida protest censorship in June 2018 after government officials blocked the distribution of their newspaper because of political content. Photo courtesy of the Committee to Protect Journalists

Editorial staff of the Sudanese newspaper al-Jarida protest censorship in June 2018 after government officials blocked the distribution of their newspaper because of political content. Photo courtesy of the Committee to Protect Journalists

Abdelaziz added that since the newspaper has to be ready for distribution by 6:00 a.m. at the latest, the newspaper was not distributed at all yesterday, resulting in a loss of 50,000 Sudanese pounds (US$2,770).

The NISS did not immediately respond to an email from CPJ requesting more information.

“Preventing Al-Jarida from being distributed is the latest example of the Sudanese government’s war of attrition against the independent press, seemingly designed to starve newspapers until they fold or stop publishing embarrassing news,” CPJ Middle East and North Africa Program Coordinator Sherif Mansour said from Washington, D.C. “Sudanese authorities must stop harassing independent newspapers and let them publish and distribute freely.”

Abdelaziz was sentenced to a month in prison in March 2018 alongside his colleague Hassan Warrag after both refused to pay a fine over a 2015 column in Al-Jarida alleging corruption in a local land deal, CPJ reported at the time. The Sudanese government previously confiscated newspapers at the beginning of 2018 for reporting on price increases, and CPJ has documented newspaper confiscations as a tried-and-true tactic used by authorities against critical media in Sudan.

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RAY HANANIA — Columnist

Ray Hanania is an award winning political and humor columnist who analyzes American and Middle East politics, and life in general. He is an author of several books.

"I write about three topics, the Middle East, politics and life in general. I often take my life experiences and offer them in an entertaining way to readers, and I take on the toughest topics like the Israel-Palestine conflict and don't pull any punches about what I feel is fair. But, my priority is always about writing the good story."

Hanania covered Chicago Politics and Chicago City Hall from 1976 through 1992. Hanania began writing in 1975 when he published The Middle Eastern Voice newspaper in Chicago (1975-1977). He later published “The National Arab American Times” newspaper which was distributed through 12,500 Middle East food stores in 48 American States (2004-2007).

Hanania writes weekly columns on Middle East and American Arab issues for the Arab News in Saudi Arabia at www.ArabNews.com, and at www.TheArabDailyNews.com, www.TheDailyHookah.com and at SuburbanChicagoland.com. He has also published weekly columns in the Jerusalem Post newspaper, YNetNews.com, Newsday Newspaper in New York, the Orlando Sentinel Newspapers, and the Arlington Heights Daily Herald.

Palestinian, American Arab and Christian, Hanania’s parents originate from Jerusalem and Bethlehem.

Hanania is the recipient of four (4) Chicago Headline Club “Peter Lisagor Awards” for Column writing. In November 2006, he was named “Best Ethnic American Columnist” by the New American Media. In 2009, Hanania received the prestigious Sigma Delta Chi Award for Writing from the Society of Professional Journalists. He is the recipient of the MT Mehdi Courage in Journalism Award. He was honored for his writing skills with two (2) Chicago Stick-o-Type awards from the Chicago Newspaper Guild. In 1990, Hanania was nominated by the Chicago Sun-Times editors for a Pulitzer Prize for his four-part series on the Palestinian Intifada.

His writings have also been honored by two national Awards from ADC for his writing, and from the National Arab American Journalists Association.

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