News / Middle East

Concern Voiced About Media Repression in Middle East

FILE - Egyptian riot police.
FILE - Egyptian riot police.
Brian Padden
Advocates of press freedom are concerned about recent moves by some governments to arrest journalists and restrict Internet access to their citizens. Freedom House is a Washington-based group that supports democracy and free speech activists. The group says these restrictions on freedom of expression undermine both human rights and the foundation of democratic societies.

Charles Dunne is director of Middle East and North Africa programs at Freedom House. He says reports that journalists in Egypt are being harassed and arrested and that a proposed law in Turkey will increase restrictions on Internet access are an alarming turn toward repression in the Middle East and other countries where democracy is not firmly established.  

“Our annual Freedom of the World Report that was released in January did find a trend of authoritarian pushback, certainly in many Arab spring countries, but elsewhere in repressive countries, focusing not only on journalists but on bloggers, even Tweeters in many cases. So this is something that is very concerning to us," said Dunne.

The proposed law to restrict Internet access in Turkey has sparked public protests. The government says the new restrictions are to protect people’s privacy, but Turkish free speech advocate Selin Kaledelen says the purpose is to protect government officials from media scrutiny.    

 “So for me, it's dictatorship of the authorities in terms of law. It's a censorship law, and we don't recognize it," said Kaledelen.

In Egypt, the arrest of journalists with Al Jazeera on charges of aiding a terrorist group has been condemned by UN Human Rights spokesman Rupert Colville.

“It is extraordinary to find this being put into the kind of terrorist dialogue that journalists are supporting terrorists.  This is really an alarming development and we hope it changes very quickly," said Colville.

U.S. State Department Spokesperson Jennifer Psaki says the U.S. government is also troubled by reports of journalists being arrested in Egypt.  

“Any journalist, regardless of affiliation, must not be targets of violence, intimidation or politicized legal action. They must be protected and permitted to freely do their jobs in Egypt," said Psaki.

She said the United States government advocates freedom of the media and freedom of the press as something that should be respected and valued.

Freedom House's Dunne says freedom of expression is the cornerstone of democracy, one that empowers people to make informed decisions.

“If people are not free to express themselves through journalism or these other media it has a super chilling effect on free speech, on people’s willingness to involve themselves in politics," he said.

Dunne says while news reports, blogs and social media helped fuel the uprisings of the Arab Spring,  suppressing the media will not eliminate the conditions causing social unrest.

You May Like

Multimedia Social Media Documenting, Not Driving, Hong Kong Protests

Unlike in Arab Spring uprisings, pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong aren't relying on Twitter and Facebook to organize, but social media still plays a role More

Analysis: Occupy Central Not Exactly Hong Kong’s Tiananmen

VOA's former Hong Kong, Beijing correspondent compares and contrasts 1989 Tiananmen Square protest with what is now happening in Hong Kong More

Bambari Hospital a Lone Place of Help in Violence-Plagued CAR

Only establishment still functioning in CAR's second city is main hospital More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plainsi
X
October 01, 2014 10:45 AM
It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plains

It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests Draw New Supporters on National Holiday

On the 65th anniversary of the founding of Communist China, Hong Kong protesters are hoping to stage the largest pro-democracy demonstration since the 1989 Tiananmen protests. VOA's Brian Padden visited one of the protest sites mid-day, when the atmosphere was calm and where the supporters were enthusiastic about joining what they are calling the umbrella revolution.
Video

Video India's PM Continues First US Visit

India's prime minister is on his first visit to Washington, to strengthen political and economic ties between the world's oldest and the world biggest democracies. He came to the U.S. capital from New York, the first stop on his five-day visit to the country that denied him an entry visa in the past. From Washington, Zlatica Hoke reports Modi seemed most focused on attracting foreign investment and trade to increase job opportunities for his people.
Video

Video Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihad

Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Could US Have Done More to Stop Rise of Islamic State?

President Obama says airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria will likely continue for some time because, in his words, "there is a cancer that has grown for too long." So what if President Obama had acted sooner in Syria to arm more-moderate opponents of both the Islamic State and the Syrian government? VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid