Suspended Saudi newspaper returns

Saudi Arabia’s youth newspaper Shams has started publishing again, three weeks after being suspend by authorities for printing the controversial cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed.

The paper’s editor-in-chief, Battal Koss, was fired as a result of the row and has been replaced by Khalaf Harby.

The paper landed itself in hot water in the Kingdom after reprinting the Danish cartoons next to an article encouraging the country’s youth to take action against Denmark and Danish interests.

Marwan Dimas, general manager at Al Wataniya, which manages the sales, marketing and development at the newspaper, said it had lost around US$133,000 in ad sales as a result of the suspension, but he said that advertisers were now beginning to return to the paper.

On the dismissal of Koss, he said: “The board of directors decided that he was accountable for all of the content and he is accountable for making the mistake.

“Shams is targeted at young Saudi readers, but it is not a revolutionary title. The management is in line with the values of Saudi Arabia and the Arab world. We don’t want to swim against the stream, even if we are modern and young spirited. We still believe in Islamic values.”

Dimas claimed that Ipsos-Stat research commissioned by the paper showed that 70% of readers liked the paper. He said advertisers were beginning to return to Shams since it started publishing again.

Launched in December last year, the newspaper is the first daily publication that is aimed specifically at Saudi Arabia’s large youth population. It claims to have a daily print run of 120,000 and is staffed mainly by Saudi nationals.

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