Islamist militants seize and rename radio station in Mali

Militants belonging to the Movement for Oneness and Jihad in West Africa (MUJAO), a Salafist group affiliated with Al-Qaeda, seized control of community station Radio Soni in the northeastern town of Ansongo on August 29, 2012, according to local journalists.

The assailants renamed the station “Radio Islamiya” and ordered the staff to replace a female editor, Fatoumata Abdou, with a man, according to Radio Soni Director Issa Idrissa Maïga. The assailants claimed that Sharia law forbids a woman from leading men, Maïga told CPJ. Abdou, who was a news presenter, had stopped broadcasting reports in late June 2012 after MUJAO fighters seized control of Ansongo, the director said.

MUJAO is one of a number of Islamist militant groups who have overtaken Mali’s vast Saharan north and imposed strict Sharia law, according to news reports.

The men subsequently moved the station to the offices of Orange Mali, a local telecom provider, which they occupied, local journalists told CPJ.