- Libya's official daily newspaper 'Al-Zahf Al-Akhdar' has been suspended for a non-defined period of time after publishing insulting statements against Arab nations made by Libyan leader Muammar Ghaddafi. The suspension is believed to be part of Mr Ghaddafi's apology over these remarks as Libya mends its ties with fellow Arab nations.
'Al-Zahf Al-Akhdar' ('The Green Step'), the organ of Libya's revolutionary committees, on 13 October was suspended by the Standing Revolutionary Court for having "damaged national interests and harmed Libya's position", Agence France-Presse (AFP) reports.
The official daily, as well as other official publications, reportedly criticised and insulted certain Arab countries, including Bahrain and Kuwait. Some articles apparently reported that the Kingdom of Bahrain could not be considered "a state, a half state or even a quarter state". Kuwait was apparently defined as a "topographical error, which has never been corrected."
The newspaper's suspension came during a strained political climate between Libya and the Arab states. On 4 October, Colonel Ghaddafi, the Libyan leader, announced a clean break with the Arab states and asked the People's Congress, the Libyan grassroots political structure, to give its agreement to pull Libya out of the Arab League.
In the same speech, Colonel Ghaddafi went as far as denying the human qualities of Arabs. His statement produced a damning reply from the Kuwaiti deputy prime minister for cabinet affairs, who told the Kuwaiti newspaper 'Al Rai Al-Am', "Muammar Gaddafi will go to hell."
The Paris-based media watchdog Reporters sans Frontičres (RSF) today asked the Libyan authorities for more information about the suspension of 'Al-Zahf Al-Akhdar'. Although having little sympathy for the government's propaganda media, RSF questions the motives for suspending this daily.
RSF today informed it had asked officials to explain the reasons for the punitive action and indicate how long the paper's suspension will last. "One wonders what logic there is in suspending an official newspaper which serves the government and whose mistake was to reflect the tenor of Colonel Ghaddafi's defamatory statements," said RSF Secretary-General Robert Ménard.
- Could this be a concession to Arab states insulted by Ghaddafi days before the publication of the incriminating articles?" wondered Mr Ménard. The watchdog group also pointed out that there is neither freedom of expression nor independent newspapers in Libya. 'Al-Zahf Al-Akhdar' was by no means an independent newspaper - something that doesn't exist in Libya.
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