Journalist charged, threatened after story on prophet

New York, May 6, 2005—The Committee to Protect Journalists is concerned about official harassment and threats against Sudanese editor Mohamed Taha Mohamed Ahmed.

Ahmed is being tried this month on criminal charges of insulting the Prophet Mohammed after publishing an April 21 article in the daily Al-Wifaq. The article, by the well-known Muslim historian Al-Maqrizi, called into question the Prophet Mohammed’s lineage, according to a local source and press reports. Ahmed, himself an Islamist, claims he published the historian’s account in order to rebut it, according to the BBC and a CPJ source.

Newspapers and religious leaders attacked Ahmed following the publication of the article. The National Press Council, Sudan’s official press regulator, imposed a three-day suspension on the paper, and the state prosecutor brought charges against Ahmed.

The exact charges against Ahmed are unclear, although press reports said that Ahmed could face the death penalty if he is found guilty of apostasy. Press reports said that mobs of angry people called for Ahmed’s death on Wednesday and clashed with police outside the courtroom.