Norwegian freelancer jailed in Yemen

A 28-year-old Norwegian working for the country’s state broadcaster NRK has been held in a Yemeni prison for twelve days, the channel revealed on Wednesday.

Norwegian freelancer jailed in Yemen
Raymond Lidal in 2011. Photo: Private
Raymond Lidal was arrested by police while filming in the captial Sana'a on the night of March 28, as Saudi jets carried out strikes across the city, according to Bergens Tidene, one of the papers he worked for. 
He stands accused of illegally working as a journalist after entering the country on a tourist visa.
NRK on Wednesday confirmed that Lidal had filed several reports for the channel from the country.
“The man has over the last two years delivered a few reports for NRK though he has also worked for others,”Per Arne Kalbakk,  the channel’s news director, said. 
”We have been in contact with the Foreign Ministry several times since we found out, and we are in constant contact with his friends and family.” 
As well as contributing footage to NRK, Lidal had been working freelance for several Norwegian newspapers and magazines. 
The Houthis,  a militant Shia group backed by Iran, took control of the Yemeni government in Sana'a this year in a military coup, leaving the country's official president Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi to set up a temporary capital in Aden, southern Yemen. 
Frode Andersen, Head of Communications at Norway’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said that Norwegian diplomats were in contact with Yemeni authorities. 
”We have made it clear to the government of Yemen that they are fully and completely responsible for the life and health of this Norwegian citizen,” he told NRK.  
Lidal has been residing in Yemen on and off since he came to study in 2011, despite recent dramatic events in the country which have prompted most other foreigners to leave. 
Andersen pointed out that the Norwegian government had long discouraged citizens from working or living in Yemen. 
“Norwegian authorities have very limited possibilities to provide assistance to Norwegians residing in Yemen and we have long discouraged all travel to or stay in the country," he said. 
Lidal was last active on Twitter on March 27, asking why the Houthis were advancing east at the same time as preparing for a Saudi attack. 


Norway TV flooded with complaints after Eid broadcast

Norway's broadcasting ombudsman has received close to a hundred complaints this week after state broadcaster NRK gave the Muslim Eid celebrations the sort of coverage normally given to Christmas.

Norway TV flooded with complaints after Eid broadcast
The Norwegian journalist Rima Iraki led the Celebration atfer the Fast programme. Photo: NRK
According to Erik Skarrud, the ombudsman's secretary, the organisation received 93 reports after the broadcast of “The Celebration after the Fast” on Sunday night, of which only a handful were positive. 
“Someone called it 'propaganda for Islam' and a large number of them used the same sort of expression. There's probably a text somewhere that people are cutting and pasting from,” he told Kampanje magazine.
Others complained they “did not want to pay for something that could lead to terror”. 
Over 300,000 people tuned in to watch the broadcast, which was helmed by the popular journalist Rima Iraki, the former presenter of NRK's Dagsrevyen news programme. 
Eirik Sandberg Ingstad, who led the project, said he felt the experiment, the first such broadcast by a major Western TV channel, had been a huge success. 
“We are pretty pleased with it. The response from the audience during and after the broadcast has been overwhelmingly positive, which indicates that we succeeded in creating a party where everyone felt welcome,” he told Kampanje. 
The controversy prompted Norway's culture minister Abid Raja to write an opinion article, “When can I say 'my Norway'?, on NRK complaining of people's unwillingness to accept Muslim citizens as truly Norwegian. 
He said that he himself had fasted on-and-off for Eid all his life, despite “not being the best Muslim in class”, and had found it emotional to see it celebrated by the nation. 
“It was a historic event when our public broadcaster, as the first in a western country, dedicated an evening to the celebration of the end of the fast,” he said. 
But that feeling had changed to “discomfort” as he learned of the complaints, he said, reminding him of the kind of abuse he received growing up in Norway, and still today as a minister: “You are not a Norwegian. This is not your Norway. Go back where you came from you Muslim bastard, you Paki.”  
He said he had always tried not to provoke those who felt only ethnically Norwegian should use the term. 
“For many years I lived with a kind of compromise. Instead of calling myself a 'Norwegian', I chose to use the terms 'new Norwegian' or 'brown Norwegian', in an attempt not to provoke people who are put out by me saying 'I am Norwegian',” he wrote.
But he said he wanted to change that. 
“I was born in Norway, in Oslo, and with the exception of one academic year in Oxford and one working year at the Norwegian Embassy in India, I have lived all my life in Norway,” he said. 
“My wife, Nadia, has too. My children are Norwegian. And I want to be buried in Norway when that day comes. From cradle to grave, I am Norwegian.”