Yemen Seeks Execution of Local Editor Over Muhammad Cartoons
March 9 (Bloomberg) -- A newspaper editor in Yemen who republished Danish cartoons depicting Islam's founding prophet Muhammad said Yemeni prosecutors are calling for his execution.
``I am afraid but I am also hopeful,'' Muhammad al-Asadi of the Yemen Observer said in a telephone interview today from the capital, Sana'a. ``We were against the cartoons and we wanted only to explain about Islam. I hope the judge will see that.''
Al-Asadi was arrested in February and charged under a press law that bans publication of anything that ``prejudices the Islamic faith and its lofty principles, or belittles monotheistic religions or humanitarian creeds.'' He said the prosecution may be motivated by the English-language newspaper's reporting on corruption in the country's embassies. Calls to the Information Ministry, which oversees the media, weren't answered.
The editor spent 12 days in a prison run by the Prosecutor for the Press, before being released on bail. Three other Yemeni journalists also have been jailed for reprinting the cartoons, which angered Muslims worldwide and led to violent demonstrations in countries including Pakistan, Afghanistan and Nigeria.
The 12 images, some of which link the prophet to terrorism, were first published in Denmark's largest broadsheet, Jyllands- Posten, in September. Carsten Juste, editor-in-chief at the Danish daily, apologized for offending Muslims in a statement on the newspaper's Web site on Jan. 31.
As many as 21 Yemeni prosecution lawyers asked for the death penalty in yesterday's proceedings, arguing a precedent was set during Muhammad's lifetime, according to al-Asadi. He said the lawyers recounted a story in which the prophet praised one of his companions for killing a woman who had insulted him. [See text and link link below.]
The prosecution, commissioned by the head of a legislative committee, also called for the confiscation of the newspaper's property and assets, and for compensation, al-Asadi said. The case opened on Feb. 15 and was adjourned until March 22, he said.
The Yemenis are among 11 journalists in five countries being prosecuted for printing the cartoons. Six journalists have been jailed and 13 publications have been closed in Algeria, Morocco, Jordan, Yemen, Malaysia and Indonesia, according to Reporters Without Borders, a Paris-based organization that promotes freedom of the press and works to end censorship.
Judge Sahl Mohammed Hamza said in yesterday's session that ``many things'' were missing from the prosecution team's argument, and told them to complete their file before adjourning the trial for two weeks, according to the Yemen Observer.
The Washington-based Committee to Protect Journalists on Jan. 26 said it was alarmed by the deterioration of press freedom in Yemen over the last several months, according to a statement in its Web site. Journalists who have covered protests, reported on official corruption, or criticized the president or government policies, have all been targeted, the group said.
``We selected three of the 12 images, reduced them to all fit in a 7-by-9 centimeter (2.75-by-3.5 inch) box, and printed a thick black X over them to show we disproved of them,'' he said.
Accompanying articles denounced the cartoons, called for calm and explained that the prophet should be honored.
``We wrote in an editorial that the cartoons were terrible but we should accept the apologies of the newspaper that published them and move on,'' al-Asadi said. ``That's what angered really the hard-liners.''http://www.bloomberg.com/apps
Poetry was the usual medium of political discourse in medieval Arabia and Asma Marwan wrote a politically charged poem against Muhammad and his army; this poem was preserved in the Sira. Poetry, being the political medium of the time, could have a huge impact on the political landscape. Muhammad decided to silence her by having her assassinated. This story is described in the Sira written by Ibn Ishaq. Following is an excerpt from Alfred Guillaume's translation of Ibn Ishaq's Sira, describes that Muhammad commanded one of his soldiers to murder Asma Marwan; the assassination squad is described as having murdered Asma with knives while she was sleeping alongside her children.