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

Reports of Mass Murder on Mediterranean Smuggler’s Boat

Boat sailed from Libya with 750 migrants aboard and arrived in Italy with 569 More

Video New Thailand Hotline Targets Misbehaving Monks

Officials say move aims to restore country’s image of Buddhism, tarnished by recent high profile scandals such as opulent lifestyle, drug and alcohol abuse, as well as child sex abuse More

Study: Dust from Sahara Helped Form Bahama Islands

What does the Sahara have in common with a Caribbean island? Quite a lot, researchers say More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Astronauts Train in Underwater Labi
X
George Putic
July 25, 2014 7:25 PM
In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Not Even Monks Spared From Thailand’s Junta-Backed Morality Push

With Thailand’s military government firmly in control after May’s bloodless coup, authorities are carrying out plans they say are aimed at restoring discipline, morality and patriotism to all Thais. The measures include a crackdown on illegal gambling, education reforms to promote students’ moral development, and a new 24-hour phone hotline for citizens to report misbehaving monks. Steve Sandford reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Virtual Program Teaches Farming Skills

In a fast-changing world beset by unpredictable climate conditions, farmers cannot afford to ignore new technology. Researchers in Australia are developing an online virtual world program to share information about climate change and more sustainable farming techniques for sugar cane growers. As VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports, the idea is to create a wider support network for farmers.
Video

Video Airline Expert: Missile will Show Signature on Debris

The debris field from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 is spread over a 21-kilometer radius in eastern Ukraine. It is expected to take investigators months to sort through the airplane pieces to learn about the missile that brought down the jetliner and who fired it. VOAs Carolyn Presutti explains how this work will be done.
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

AppleAndroid