Skyline criticizes the Omani Ministry of Information for suspending a radio program
STOCKHOLM - Skyline strongly rejects the Omani Ministry of Information's decision to stop broadcasting the radio program "All Questions", which is broadcasted on Hala FM by broadcaster "Kholoud Al-Alawi" without providing the legal reasons behind this decision. It stresses that such practices represent an unacceptable attack on the freedom of opinion and expression that is guaranteed by the Omani constitution and international law alike.
Tuesday, as reported by human rights activists and journalists, Skyline states that the Omani broadcaster “Al-Alawi” has been suspended from working since the first week of December, based on a decision by the Ministry of Information that came in a call from the Ministry of Information and was notified orally to the radio administration.
"Skyline" indicates that the "All Questions" program presented by the Omani broadcaster and the Director General of Hala FM Radio received wide interaction from Omanis because of the important issues raised by "Alawi", and the guests she hosts to shed light and comment on these issues.
In this context, Skyline highlights that the decision was issued on the same day that Al-Alawi hosted Shura Council member Dr. Mohammed Al-Zadjali on her program. During an interview with him, he criticized the presidency of the Shura Council and said, "The media outlets handed over their necks to the Ministry of Information.” Activists circulated an excerpt from an interview that "Al-Alawi" had with a member of the Omani Shura Council, "Al-Zadjali", in which the latter criticized the presidency of the Shura Council and the Ministry of Information.
Accordingly, the Ministry of Information issued a circular on 23 December 2021, requiring the media to coordinate the hosting of members of the Shura Council with the Ministry. Observers consider this to be yet another restriction on media freedom.
On Twitter, many individuals expressed their solidarity with the presenter of the "All Questions" program on Hala FM "Kholoud Al-Alawi". They launched the hashtag #Solidarity_with_Khulood_Al-Alawi to express their strong rejection of the verbal decision to stop the "All Questions" program and prevent "Al-Alawi" from continuing the talk show, which has achieved success in the last period.
Commenting on the circulating news, Hilal bin Hamad Al Sarmi, Chairman of the Health and Environmental Committee of the Omani Shura Council, considered that
"The announcer, Kholoud Al-Alawi, deserves honor, not suspension". And he stressed that "he will personally adopt the interrogation of the Minister of Information for his explicit violation of the basic system of the state by stifling freedom of expression."
Others commented on the suspension decision that the restrictive practices of the Omani authorities were the main reason for the Sultanate to rank 133 globally out of 180 countries in the annual World Press Freedom Index for 2021. In this regard, they stress the need for the authorities to undo any decision that would prejudice basic freedoms.
The organization concludes its statement by calling on the Omani authorities, led by the Ministry of Information, to reverse their recent decision to stop broadcasting the radio program "All Questions", and enable media institutions and journalists to practice their work without restriction or prosecution. It further stresses the importance of maintaining a reasonable margin of freedom for individuals and institutions to exercise their basic rights stipulated in the Omani constitution and international law alike.