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Last Updated: Monday, 13 February 2006, 15:12 GMT
Algeria cartoon publishers jailed
Errisala front page last week.
The now-banned Errisala is aimed at the youth
A leading media watchdog has condemned the arrest of two Algerian editors who published some of the cartoons satirising the Prophet Mohammed.

"The detention of those two men is absurd and dangerous" says Reporters Sans Frontieres.

Kamel Boussaad and Berkane Bouderbala were arrested last week and their magazines, Errissala and Essafir banned from publication.

The images,first published in a Danish paper, have angered many Muslims.

Both magazines were critical of the original cartoons and were asking their readers to complain to the Danish authorities.

But according to Algerian law, both journalists now face between three and five years in jail for "insulting the prophet".

Moderate Islamists

Essafir's declared objective was to explain their readers why the caricatures had sparked so much controversy within the Muslim world.

This initiative "has turned itself against us", says Essafir editor-in-chief Mohammed Fardjallah.

"We can't criticise journalists for trying to explain the row without the slightest reference to the object of the controversy," argues RSF.

The BBC's Mohammed Areski Himeur in Algiers says that both Essafir (The Ambassador) and Errissala (The Messenger), published in Arabic, have moderate pro-Islamist views and print only a few thousand copies a week.

Both magazines are aimed at the youth.

Television trouble

The row over the cartoons has also made waves within the management of two state-owned television channels.

Two directors and several journalists working with Canal Algerie and A3 have been sacked for broadcasting the drawings.

All say it was a mistake; they had not checked pictures sent to them by Western television channels.

The caricatures of Prophet Mohammed have been condemned by political and religious leaders in Algeria, but the controversy has not sparked a lot of reactions within the wider public, our correspondent says.


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