The independent newspaper Zhoda is under threat of closure
The Ministry of Information warned the editorial board of the newspaper Zhoda by terms of Article 5 of the Law “On the press and other media" for the published caricatures on prophet Mohammed in the newspaper issue #6 of February 18-26, 2006. This was reported in the registration department of the Ministry by the Belarusian Association of Journalists. This has been the second warning by terms of Article 5 and that is why the periodical publishing can be stopped. According to BelTa, on February 23, the Prosecutor's Office of the Republic of Belarus made a statement where it gave legal assessment to the article and filed an appeal to the Ministry of Information in order to stop or suspend the periodical.
According to the head of the department legal resources, information, and public relations of the Republican Prosecutor’s Office Andrei Shvied, the editorial board of he newspaper Zhoda severely violated Article 5 of the Law of the Republic of Belarus. This Article prohibits the use of media for provoking international, social, racial, and religious intolerance. According to Andrei Shvied, "publishing of the caricatures humiliates religious feelings of Muslims, and belarus has always been known for its tolerant attitude towards religions”.
A.Shvied reminded that a criminal case was initiated in connection with the publishing of the caricatures. The case was initiated according to part 1 of Article 130 of the Criminal Code of the Republic of Belarus. This is the sixth criminal case initiated by terms of this article that has been initiated in Belarus. Shvied underlined that Belarus id the only country in the world that initiated criminal cases for the reprinted caricatures on Mohammed. According to Shvied, the accused or suspected of committing such a crime are not found.
The representative of the Prosecutor’s Office made a more exact statement: the criminal case is initiated for provoking racial, national, or religious confrontation in Belarus. And the responsibility is determined by international obligations of the state. (Article 20 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political rights of 1966 and Article 4 of International Convention for Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination of 1965).