Dozens of Somali journalists on Thursday held protests against an article in the British paper the Guardian in which the writer alleged Somali reporters to be corrupt and that many of them are killed for their involvement in graft.
The Guardian piece authored by London-based journalist Jamal Osman was entitled "Somali Journalists are dying of corruption as much as conflict" claimed that the majority of journalists killed in Somalia are murdered as a result of their involvement in corruption, a claim vehemently refuted by the country's journalist Union.
"We think saying that Somali journalists are involved in corruption and that they are killed because of it is something we cannot comprehend. Somali journalists are killed by those who want to silence them and Jamal and by extension the Guardian are justifying the killing of Somali journalists," Mohamed Ibrahim, leader of National Union of Somali Journalists said during the protests in Mogadishu.
Somali journalists carried banners and placards that condemned the content of the piece run by the British newspaper and authored by a London-based journalist Jamal Osman, who often reports from Al-Shabaab held areas for the Guardian Newspaper and Channel 4, a British TV station.
Some of the banners and placards that protesting journalists carried read: "Jamal Osman justifies killing of Somali journalists," "Shame on you, Guardian" and "Somali journalists are protesting against libelous article by so-called journalist Jamal Osman."
The protest was held at a restaurant in Mogadishu where the latest deadly attack against Somali journalists took place last month in which three journalists were killed when twin suicide attackers targeted the Village Restaurant, an up-market Cafe frequented by reporters.
The Guardian article came at a time when Somali journalists suffered the deadliest year with the brutal killing of 15 of them at the hands of the group of Al-Shabaab, according to the Somali journalists union.
"This is a libelous and cruel piece by a man with an agenda to divert attention from the real murders of Somali journalist and accuse them of contributing to their own death. This is cruel, unprofessional and unjustified," said Mohamed Nuhurkey, a local freelance journalist at the protest.
The Somali Journalist Union announced that the Union as well as its members and the wider journalist community were severing their relations with the Guardian and Channel 4 and demanded an apology from the Guardian and called for an investigation into "the libelous piece."