After several days of repeated threats, Al-Islah militiamen finally confiscated copies of Al-Sharea in Taiz yesterday and banned its distribution in the city, the newspaper’s editor, Naif Hassan, said. Al-Islah is an Islamist party with Muslim Brotherhood links.
Al-Islah militiamen had already kidnapped the newspaper’s distributor, Zakaria Hassan Yasser, and his driver, on 25 November as they were transporting that day’s issue. They were freed the next day under pressure from the Yemen Journalists Syndicate and human rights defenders.
Hassan, the editor, said that, in the days following their release, gunmen identifying themselves as local security officers tried to prevent the newspaper’s distribution by threatening to burn down the bookshops and newsstands that sold it.
“The Al-Islah militia must cease at once to interfere in Al-Sharea’s distribution and to prevent the circulation of news and information,” said Sabrina Bennoui, the head of RSF’s Middle East desk. “Journalists must be able to work freely and readers must have unrestricted access to the fruits of their work, to diverse and independent reporting.”
Al-Sharea has often published reports about corruption involving local chiefs and had begun a series of investigative reports about senior Al-Islah officials. Hassan said he would not allow himself to be intimidated. “We will not stop distributing the newspaper,” he said. “We will continue to assert our constitutional right.”
Yemen is ranked 168th out of 180 countries in RSF’s 2019 World Press Freedom Index.