- The body of Mohamed Taha, editor of the privately-owned Sudanese daily 'al-Wifaq', today was found by police officers outside Khartoum. Mr Taha was snatched from his home east of Khartoum by masked men the previous evening. He was found decapitated, his body being bound at the feet and hands.
Police recovered his decapitated body in Kalakala middle class residential district, about 25 kilometres south of the capital, the French organisation Reporters sans Frontières (RSF) has reported. A witness in Khartoum today confirmed to the news agency 'Reuters' that he had seen a photograph of Mr Taha's beheaded body with his severed head lying next to him.
The family of the murdered journalist yesterday immediately had reported his abduction to the police after he was bundled into a Japanese make of car and driven away. The vehicle had headed towards central Khartoum in high speed, the witnesses said.
The Sudanese press associates the deed with radical Islamists, who are said to have had an open account with the editor. Mr Taha was tried for "blasphemy" in 2005, on the basis of a complaint by a fundamentalist group, Ansar al-Sunnah. The article that offended them related to a more than five-centuries-old Islamic manuscript entitled "the unknown in the life of the Prophet" and which cast doubt on the Prophet's ancestry.
Major demonstrations were organised by the imams of Khartoum demanding that the journalist - himself a member of the Muslim Brotherhood - be killed. While in detention, the government-supportive editor had to be given special protection as the state feared for his life. The 'al-Wifaq' newspaper was suspended for two months, although all charges against Mr Taha were dropped.
The manuscript referred to by Mr Taha's article was apparently originally written by Al-Maqrizi, a Muslim historian, and it told that the father of Mohammed was not called Abdallah but Abdel Lat, or "slave of Lat", a pre-Islamic idol.
The grotesque murder of editor Taha has caused shock and outrage among Sudanese and international journalists. In Khartoum, large numbers of journalists and other sympathisers are gathering at the mortuary to honour the memory of Mr Taha.
From abroad, press freedom organisations and members of the press express their mourning. "We express our solidarity with our colleagues in Khartoum, for whom this cowardly murder is a harsh ordeal. The reforms introduced to restore peace and justice to Sudan will be put at risk if nothing is done to punish this crime," RSF said in a statement today. afrol News joins this declaration.
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