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Syrian daily resumes publication ceased after cartoon on president’s nomination

BBC Monitoring

Text of report by London-based, Saudi-owned Elaph website on 6 July

    [Report by Bahiyah Mardini in Damascus: "Newspaper Owned by Son of Former Official Returns After Suspension"]

    A Syrian daily newspaper owned by the son of a former official has returned to the markets after it was hinted verbally to its management before two months to stop publishing.

    The management of Baladuna newspaper refused to make a statement and explain the reason for closing it down but it was probably the officials of the newspaper, which is owned by Majd Bahjat Sulayman, the son of the famous former Syrian officer, were contacted by the Syrian Information Ministry to stop distributing the newspaper until further notice after the Thursday 17/05/2007 edition was withdrawn from the markets following the publication of a cartoon by Ala Rustum on page 32 depicting his imagination of how the nomination for a new presidential term for President Bashar al-Asad was approved by the People's Assembly. The newspaper remained on the internet only and a rumour spread that it had printing problems and would print in Jordan. The cartoonist stressed that he was not questioned or summoned. Another rumour spread that the cartoon's publication was delayed and that it should have covered the People's Assembly elections and not the referendum.

    Legal sources said the process of distributing newspapers inside Syria is subject to the Information Ministry's decisions that are on the increase without any possibility of a review of these decisions in any legal way. The international weekly newspaper Al-Haqiqah was banned from distribution in Syria last week because it published a statement by one of the anti-Syrian Lebanese parties. The League of Al-Sham Authors and the Kaskur websites recently joined the list of blocked websites in Syria.

    Source: Elaph website, London, in Arabic 6 Jul 07



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