Newsletter No 7 22 November 2005
 
Press Freedom:
WAN Press Freedom Report: The Arab World One of the Most Troubling Regions

The World Association of Newspapers’s press freedom review was presented to its Board, meeting in Copenhagen, Denmark, on 14 November. The report states that the Middle East and North Africa is one of the most troubling regions in the world for press freedom, and events in recent months have proved no exception.

The report, fully available at www.wan-press.org/article8600.html, says:

- Ongoing violence and instability in Iraq have made the country the most dangerous place in the world for media. At least eight journalists have been murdered in the past six months, bringing the yearly total thus far to nineteen. Most of the victims were local journalists, many falling victim to attacks by insurgents.

-Social agitation in the tiny kingdom of Bahrain has brought out the less tolerant side of the normally accommodating government. In the past six months, at least three bloggers and Internet users affiliated with the website Bahrain Online (www.bahrainonline.org) have been detained and released.

-In Yemen, social unrest appears to have led to direct reprisals from the government in recent months. Premeditated attacks on the press have also been recorded.

- Initial high hopes concerning the political future of Lebanon in the wake of the withdrawal of Syrian troops and the June parliamentary elections were dampened by the 2 June murder of popular political columnist Samir Kassir.

In a similar attack, May Chidiac, an anchorwoman with the Lebanese Broadcasting Corporation, was seriously wounded in a car bomb attack in September.

-Egypt’s first democratic presidential elections in September put the country’s predominately state-controlled media to the test. As expected, coverage was found to be biased in favor of President Mubarak, although opposition candidates were given print space and airtime.

-In Algeria, the government has continued to employ defamation laws to crack down on opposition journalists over the past six months, rounding off a thoroughly disappointing year for press freedom in the country.
-The gruesome murder of a journalist in Libya in June shone rare light into a country that is normally shrouded in darkness due the lack of any independent media.