Somali comedian Abdi Jeylani Malaq Marshale was shot dead late on Wednesday while leaving a local radio station in the capital of Mogadishu, AFP reports. He was well-known for producing comedic commentary on Islamic militants in a country torn by multiple factions. He also did a lot of work aimed at encouraging youth not to join extremist groups in a country that has lacked a stable government since 1991.
This particular murder has been linked to threats aimed at the comedian from the extremist group Al-Shabaab last year. The comedian went into hiding after those threats for several days but continued to work until this most recent attack. Marshale was killed by two men who shot him several times in the head and chest, the Guardian reports.
The AFP also points out that media workers are particularly vulnerable in Somalia in recent months. One media worker has been killed each month since the beginning of this year in the country, and investigations are slow to take place, if ever. Laugh Spin quotes Amnesty International, who has commented on this most recent murder and the state of the justice system in Somalia:
Amnesty International is shocked not only by the continuing pattern of targeted attacks against media workers, but also at the inaction of the Somali authorities to protect them and to investigate these attacks seriously.
Marshale worked for London-based Universal TV, along with Abdulkadir Omar Abdulle, who was shot at in early July but was able to survive that attack just barely. Both men worked in media and commented on Islamist groups. The Committee to Protect Journalists has this to say about the state of media workers in Somalia:
Journalists working in Mogadishu continue to pay a terrible price for doing their jobs…Authorities can demonstrate that conditions are truly improving in the capital by apprehending the assailants who shot Abdulkadir Omar Abdulle.
Marshale was well-respected in the business and his funeral brought hundreds of fellow journalists, family members and dignitaries together during a time of particular strife, the Guardian reports. On Wednesday, two suicide bombers attempted to disrupt a national conference. One of the men was shot dead and the other detonated his bomb. The national meeting was still able vote in favor of a drafted constitution supported by the UN that same day. The decision heralds the most recent move in the direction of building a stable government.
Reporters throughout the world have been facing increasingly deadly odds. Newspapers in Mexico have been attacked multiple times this summer, and journalists in Honduras and Russia have been found murdered or been attacked outside of their homes multiple times. Somalia joins the ranks of one of the more threatening places for journalists and critics to speak out.
Photo: African Renewal/flickr