Islamists shut local radio station – Radio Fresh

A key local media resource in Kfar Nabel remains shuttered months after alleged complaints by Islamist group Jabhat al-Nusra that it had failed to adhere to Sharia law.

Established by the Union of Revolutionary Bureau (URB) in July 2013, Radio Fresh and its sister site Fresh online provided news and entertainment to Idlib’s southern countryside as well as employing more than 100 men and women.

Staff members said that they were shocked when they learned of its closure in a Facebook posting by the URB’s board of directors.

The message read, “To all staff at Radio Fresh and Fresh Online: operations across all radio departments and website will be suspended as of June 14, 2016, until further notice.”

Ghayth al-Shaykh, 29, is a co-founder of Radio Fresh and the director of Fresh Online since it was launched on September 1, 2014.

“I could not understand the reasoning behind it when I first saw the circular posted by the organisation’s board of directors notifying staff that operations had been suspended at the radio and the website,” he said. “Indeed, the reason was unclear to start with. But later it transpired that the decision to close us down came in response to pressure exercised by the Al-Nusrah Front on the board of directors.

“Apparently, the terms set by Al-Nusrah were unacceptable to the funding body and as a result they decided to stop supporting us. I knew this was going to happen sooner or later. It was bound to happen with the media attacked from all directions. I was not sorry for myself, I was sorry for the 150 families who had lost income from the closure of the radio and the website.”

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