Mogadishu – Following the degree by the office of the Somalia’s Attorney General on Monday calling for suspension to more than 30 news websites accused to be ethically biased, a reporter from the Horn Observer Media spoken to several people to find out more.
Yaasiin Maahi, who is a respected Somali Swedish politician and a member of the Swedish Social Democrat Party has been a victim of blackmail on negative coverage and spoke to Horn Observer about his accounts on the main cause of the publication of Dahir Alasow’s website, Sunatimes on October 23, 2013. Mr. Maahi is also the head of the Somali Social Unity Party and become a presidential candidate in 2012 Somalia elections.
Mr. Maahi said that, Dahir Alasow and Omar Faruk Osman phoned me before the publication and told me since I am respected figure in the Somali Swedish community to support Omar Faruk Osman who was at the time claiming to be representing Somali workers, but unfortunately, I noticed that Faruk has not legitimacy for the claimed position, after making calls to Somalia both the independent trade unions and the Somali government officials.
“I told them that I can no longer support the suggested issue and rejected their demands.’ Maahi said in an interview, once I said that on the phone, they threatened me with negative image. Unfortunately, the response he got Mr. Maahi was defamatory article alleging him as smuggler or human trafficker.
“The link of the story was directly sent to my party and the ministry of foreign affairs of Sweden, creating shock and confusion over my integrity.” Mr. Maahi added, “Following investigations, my lawyers found out that the website and its publication were not as trustful and reliable.”
Although, Mr. Maahi did the right thing, by reporting the case to the police and later filed a lawsuit against both Alasow and Osman, the defamatory articles did not stop them until recently, which they published another article alleging me a murderer or killer.
“These guys are very dangerous and use various tactics to blackmail the prominent people.” Yaasin Maahi said in the interview.
The media has been known for serving the public interest, but when it serves the contrary, in the end, the victims of such media, may finally speak out.
Mohamed Abukar Zubeer, the director General of the Ministry of Constitution and who was also a teacher, a trade unionist and has been the president of the Federation of Somali Trade Unions (FESTU) before joining the government ranks shared his experiences of negative coverage by the media spoilers.
“the center found him corruption and the Congress of the Trade union center replaced Omar Faruk Osman in 2013.” Mohamed Abukar Zubeer said, “The response was clear, Omar Faruk Osman and Dahir Alaow published not only defamatory but also life threatening article on their website alleging me terrorist.”
“The publication included copy of my passport, my photo and family photos I earlier shared with Faruk” Mr. Zabeer added.
Mr. Zubeer added that “they tried to put not only my life, but also that of my family at risk through these dangerous publications.”
As the cost of the negative coverage became unpredictable, the Horn Observer Media also spoke with a gentleman, who works at the Mogadishu Municipality and requested to remain anonymous , who said that he was blackmailed and extorted by Dahir Alasow and his representative in Mogadishu through phone conversation at a mid harsh media campaign against the former mayor was on going.
“They told me that they work for Somalia and Eretria Monitoring Group and threatened me with negative publication if I do not give them $2500.”The victim said in the interview, “Although, I was confident on my integrity, I had to pay the money requested to avoid their negative publicity.”
“finally , I did give the money to Alasow’s representative in Mogadishu.” The interviewee added
Somalis do not like the negative coverage culturally and in this way, Horn Observer estimates that Dahir Alasow collects more than $200,000 annually.
In recent weeks, Alasow had created fake twitter and facebook accounts to post messages in favor of him, while on the other hand, pretends to have more social media support. The latest twitter accounts found out in the media investigation goes with the name Jeffrey Report and is believed to be managed and run by Dahir Alasow and his affiliates.