The interim military government accuses France 24 of publishing an interview with the head of the Al Qaeda terrorist group in the Islamic Maghreb in early March. In doing so, the station served as the terrorists’ “communications agency” and created space for “hate speech,” according to the capital, Ouagadougou. In December, the popular French radio station RFI was banned from broadcasting in Burkina Faso for similar reasons.
On March 6, France 24 broadcast an excerpt of a voice message sent by the al-Qaeda leader to the station in response to written questions. The France 24 terrorism expert Wassim Nasr classified the statements in a program. Among other things, it confirmed for the first time that the French hostage Olivier Dubois, who was released shortly afterwards, was in the hands of the al-Qaeda allies. The interview also addressed the question of whether the group was planning attacks in France. According to the US State Department, Algerian citizen Abu Ubaydah Yusuf al-Anabi has headed the al-Qaeda offshoot since November 2020.
The ban on the news channel could further deteriorate the relationship between Burkina Faso and the former colonial power France. The incident is part of a series of conflicts that the former colonial power has with several countries in the region. Together with other European countries, France is trying to push back the growing influence of Islamist groups such as Al Qaeda or the Islamic State. However, the European states are encountering resistance from military governments, from which they are demanding a return to democracy.
A spokesman for EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said in the evening that the allegations of terrorism against the broadcaster were “completely unjustified”. The fight against terrorism should not be used as an excuse to restrict the work of independent media and journalists.
rb/wa (AFP, dpa, epd, Reuters)