March 22, 2002 - Updated on January 20, 2016

Editor sacked after publishing poem criticising judges

Reporters Without Borders (Reporters sans frontières - RSF) expressed its concern to the Saudi Arabian authorities today about the dismissal of Mohammed al-Mukhtar al-Fal, editor-in-chief of the daily paper Al-Madina, after he printed a poem about corrupt judges. "This shows criticism of the legal system is not allowed inside the country," said RSF secretary-general Robert Ménard, noting that international human rights organisations had been denouncing Saudi Arabia's justice system for years and that its ruler, King Ibn el Saud, had been added to RSF's list of "predators of press freedom" last November. The editor's dismissal was ordered on 18 March by interior minister Prince Nayef after the paper had published a poem on 10 March by Abdul Mohsen Musalam, called "The Corrupt on Earth," which accused judges of corruption and abuses. The poet, one of the country's best known, wrote that it was "sad that in the Muslim world, justice is suffering from a few judges who care for nothing but their bank accounts." He was arrested on 16 March and jailed in Jeddah.