Hargeisa (SL Times) - Kowsar Afdinle, the well known Qat business tycoon has filed a complaint with Somaliland's Criminal Investigation Department against the daily "Haatuf" newspaper. The complaint alleges that a "Cartoon" published in Haatuf’s July 4th edition has harmed the reputation of Mr. Afdinle and his Qat business.
The CID began its probe into the allegation on Thursday by calling Haatuf publisher Yusuf Abdi Gabobe to their office in Hargeisa for inquiry.
Haatuf Chairman Yusuf Gabobe protested against the CID involvement in the case, saying "The department has no business conducting pre-trial investigation with regard to the litigation."
Contesting the criminal nature of the charges brought against Haatuf, Gabobe added, "Defamation is a libel and not a criminal offence unless the CID has something else in mind."
The allegedly slanderous cartoon (reproduced here) didn’t mention Mr. Afdinle or his Qat trade mark (571) by name.
According to Haatuf assistant editor Saeed Gurase, the cartoon was intended as a satirical criticism of Qat chewing especially its negative impact on health and social attitudes. The cartoon shows a number of male characters in a chewing room. Only one of the characters, a bulky man, is sitting in a chewing position, the rest are not chewing, including one who tells the big man, "I have been cleaning your tooth set for good 5 years... raise my salary and may God bless you"; to which he replies, "The company has made progress... It doesn’t need hired vehicles any more because now it has many of its own, it has got a petrol station, a teashop, canteen and grocery... the only thing the company doesn’t have yet are people who would only buy its Qat... so go and get this set cleaned."
Another character comments, "Cut it off. Why you always ask for a raise... Mogadishu is without Qat... All is under control here, let us send the stuff to those guys."
This is the second time that a law suit has been filed against Haatuf in a period of less than 2 months. Since end of May, the newspaper has been contesting charges by the government that it attributed false information to the minister of Interior.
Qat is a legalized social drug extensively used in Somaliland, Somalia, Ethiopia and Yemen. It is not banned in the UK but it is illegal in the rest of the Arab world, North America and most of Western Europe. Somaliland imports annually an estimated $60 million dollars worth of Qat from Ethiopia.