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Masked gunmen storm Sudanese newspaper, assault chief editor

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July 19, 2014 (KHARTOUM) — A group of masked gunmen on Saturday had stormed the headquarters of Al-Tayyar daily newspaper in the Sudanese capital, Khartoum and assaulted its editor-in-chief, Osman Mirghani.

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The editor in chief of Al-Tayyar Osman Mirghani at Khartoum hospital following an assault by masked gunmen on 19 July 2014 (Photo Al-Tayyar)

Mirghani was subsequently transferred to the hospital.

Eyewitnesses told Sudan Tribune the gunmen blamed Mirghani for his “disgraceful position” towards Israel. They also confiscated all cellular phones and laptops of the newspaper’s staff and attacked several journalists before leaving.

Sudanese government officials condemned the attack on the newspaper and its editor in chief.

Defence minister, Abdel Rahim Hussein, in a Ramadan breakfast with Sudanese journalists described the assault as "unethical behaviour" strange to the Sudanese tradition.

Also, presidential assistant Ibrahim Gandhour and the minister of state for information Yasir Youssef paid a visit to the editor in chief at al-Zitouna Hospital in Khartoum. While the governor of Khartoum state, Abdel Rahman Khidir condemned the incident and vowed to track the assailants.

Mirghani has recently defended in a TV talk show program the issue of normalising relations with Israel. He also wrote a column on the same issue in Al-Tayyar.

He said in reply to his critics that the program was recorded more than three weeks ago but broadcasted in conjunction with the Israeli attack on Gaza strip, questioning the timing of the broadcast.

Sudan’s main clerical authority, the Religious Scholars Committee (RSC), issued on Friday a Fatwa (religious decree) prohibiting the calls for normalising relations with Israel, saying that calls to deal with the Zionist entity hurts Muslims feelings.

The RSC secretary general, Mohamed Osman Salih, pointed to the danger of calls to normalise relations with the Zionist entity at this time.

Hundreds of worshippers had demonstrated inside Khartoum’s grand mosque following Friday prayer against Israel’s air strikes and ground offensive on Gaza strip.

The pro-government Sudanese Students Union (SSU) last week donated $20 dollars in support of the Palestinian cause.

Mirghani’s incident is a reminiscent of that of Mohamed Taha Mohamed Ahmed, former editor-in-chief of al-Wifaq newspaper.

Ahmed, was snatched from his home in a northern district of Khartoum by masked gunmen in September 2006 a day before his decapitated body was found.

The previous year, he had sparked controversy when his paper republished an article from the Internet that questioned the parentage of the Prophet Muhammad. Death threats were issued against him by angry Muslims, and the paper was fined by the government.

(ST)

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Kind regards,

The Sudan Tribune editorial team.

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