CPJ ‘concerned’ about safety of Aaj Kal staff
PESHAWAR: International press freedom organisation Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) — in a letter to Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani on Saturday — expressed ‘concern’ about the safety of the staff of Urdu daily Aaj Kal. Clerics at the Lal Masjid in Islamabad have repeatedly issued inflammatory statements aimed at the newspaper and its staff.
“The accusations leave them vulnerable to attack by militant groups at a time when civil violence is on the rise,” the New York-based organisation said. “The CPJ takes these threats very seriously. Made in the context of the widespread civil unrest and violence in Pakistan, anyone who is considered an enemy of the mosque’s supporters, particularly those who work for a civilian media organisation, is at great risk,” it said. “We feel it is imperative that your government take immediate steps to protect journalists and media outlets who dare to take openly critical stances,” the letter said.
According to Aaj Kal Editor-in-Chief Najam Sethi — who was awarded CPJ’s International Press Freedom Award in 1999 — groups affiliated with the mosque demonstrated on July 11 against a cartoon depicting Umme Hassaan, wife of former Lal Masjid cleric Abdul Aziz, and the broader anti-extremism and anti-terrorism editorial policy of Aaj Kal. Following the July 11 demonstration, anonymous callers threatened staff of the paper’s Islamabad offices. They warned us “not to test their patienceÂ”, Sethi said.
Source: Daily Times