Tripoli, 11 February 2013:
The new Media Minister, Yousef Mohamed Sharif, has said that the press in Libya need have no fears from him or his ministry. Both, he stated, will uphold the right to free speech and the freedom and independence of the media.
His nomination was approved yesterday by the General National Congress to head what is an entirely new ministry. There has been no media or information ministry since the revolution, largely because of the post-revolutionary view that the media should be free and unregulated. At the end of November, however, Congress decided that there had to be a information ministry – although not all Congress members agreed.
Having made the decision, conflicting views were reported as to who should be appointed as minister. It has taken two months to reach a decision.
Speaking today to the Libyan news agency LANA, Sharif promised that the ministry would not act as a “sword” hanging over the media. He fully understood fears surrounding the creation of the ministry given the past experience of under Qaddafi, he said that freedom of opinion was one of the greatest prizes won by the revolution. Freedom was synonymous with the new Libya, he stressed, and there was no way that the press could be controlled.
“We will not relinquish our freedom of speech, opinion and expression. Compromising freedom means sacrificing the homeland.”
Far from being a tool of repression, the ministry will support the freedom of the press, he insisted. However, the media in Libya at present was, he said, haphazard, badly organized and a confused muddle. The ministry would try to help it sort itself out. That, he believed, was the best way to build a free media in the new Libya.