Masked gunmen bundled Taha, editor-in-chief of the private daily Al-Wifaq,
into a car outside his home in east Khartoum late on September 5.
Police found his severed head next to his body in an area south of the
capital the following day. His hands and feet were bound, according to
a CPJ source and news reports.
Taha had angered
Islamists by running an article about the Prophet Muhammad. He had also
written critically about the political opposition and armed groups in
Sudan’s western Darfur region, according to press reports. No group
claimed responsibility for the killing, Reuters reported.
Taha, 50, was an Islamist and former member of the National Islamic
Front. But in May 2005, he was detained for several days, fined 8
million Sudanese pounds (US$3,200), and his paper was closed for three
months after he offended the country’s powerful Islamists by
republishing an article from the Internet that questioned the ancestry
of the Prophet Muhammad. Demonstrators outside the courthouse demanded
he be sentenced to death for blasphemy. Sudan is religiously
conservative and penalizes blasphemy and insulting Islam with the death
Six months before the slaying, unidentified assailants set fire to the offices of Al-Wifaq, badly damaging the building. The perpetrators were never identified, a CPJ source said.
Several Sudanese journalists gathered at the Khartoum morgue to protest
the murder and demand government protection for the press. The
Arabic-language satellite news channel Al-Jazeera said Taha had fought
many battles with the government and opposition parties over his
writings and had made many political enemies.
In April 2009, the Sudanese government executed nine men found guilty of
involvement in the assassinatio. Many press freedom and human rights observers saw the prosecution as a miscarriage of justice, spurred by a thirst on the part of President Omar
al-Bashir’s regime for settling scores with the rebellious region of
All nine men were from this oppressed and poverty-stricken
region of Sudan, which al-Bashir’s power base
held responsible for the International
Criminal Court‘s March 2009 indictment accusing the leader of crimes against