Sunday, July 15, 2007

GOOD GOLLY MISS MALI


The saga of the yet to be renewed press card for Rafael Martínez Alequín continues unresolved. And although he is granted access to the blue room in City Hall, Mayor Michael Bloomberg will not take questions from him. As his hand waves perpetually in the air, Bloomberg gazes elsewhere. As City Hall continues to "script" the questions asked by reporters, one can compare them to the following crack down on the press.


"MALI LOCKS UP 5 OVER “INSULTING” SCHOOL ESSAY

Jun. 27 (GIN) - Five Malian journalists have been convicted of insulting President Amadou Toumani Touri when they wrote about a local high school essay assignment. The teacher was also convicted. The Committee to Protect Journalists said the incident stemmed from a classroom exercise about an imaginary presidential sex scandal. They called for the convictions to be reversed on appeal.

“These spurious charges … spoil Mali’s record of upholding democracy and press freedom,” said CPJ Executive Director Joel Simon.

Literature teacher Bassirou Kassim Minta told journalist Seydine Oumar Diarra he assigned the essay to help his students explore moral issues. Diarra was sentenced to the 13 days in prison. Publisher Sambi Toure received an eight-month suspended sentence and was fined $400. The teacher was sentenced to a two-month prison term and fined $200.

After Diarra was arrested, three publications reprinted the story as a protest—prompting authorities to arrest the director of each publication – and on Monday, most newspapers refused to print in protest of the case.
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