Sudanese Editor Attacked Over Pro-Israel Views

Freedom of the press advocates defend Al-Tayar editor who was beaten for calling for Sudan to normalize ties with Israel.

AFP and Tova Dvorin ,

Sudanese rebel.
Sudanese rebel.

The chief editor of a Sudanese newspaper was badly beaten, according to Al-Arabiya, for the sole crime of calling for normalization of ties with Israel. 

Osman Mirghani, chief editor of Sudanese daily Al-Tayar, was admitted to Al-Zaytouna hospital in Khartoum Saturday night after seven men raided his office and beat him over his pro-Israel views. The attack came shortly after the iftar meal to break the Ramadan fast, a colleague said. 

"They ordered the journalists to lay down. They collected all the mobile phones and the laptops. They cut all the computer connections," Faisal Mohamed Salih, an award-winning Sudanese journalist and press freedom advocate, told AFP Saturday. "They just started beating him in his head, in his leg, using the guns and the sticks." 

The attack appeared pre-meditated, he said, adding, "the way they behaved, they were very organized"

Mirghani was still unconscious after the beating, Salih added. 

Several days ago, Mirghani called for Sudan to normalize ties with Israel in a public television broadcast - a bold move in an Islamic country and at a time when anti-Israel sentiment has skyrocketed worldwide. 

Salih and other press advocates have elevated the case from another instance of anti-Semitic violence, however, to a 'wake-up call' for freedom of the press in Sudan and around the world. 

"[The attack] is a real threat to media freedom and journalists in general," Salih - whose work on breaking restrictive censorship in Sudan has won him several awards, including the Peter Mackler Award for Courageous and Ethical Journalism in 2013 - lamented to AFP. "And also it is an indicator that maybe no one can guarantee the security of the journalists anymore."

Mirghani, who is also a senior editor at Asharq Al-Awsat', is an outspoken critic of Sudan's slide toward Islamism, as well as against Islamist extremism in Syria and worldwide. 

Sudan ranked near the bottom, at 170 out of 179, in the Reporters Without Borders (RSF) 2013 World Press Freedom Index.