As the sun stretches over the Arab world, crises unfold.
But are these stories being told? Do we hear the voices, see the needs, realize the consequences.
Read this report by Jeff Ghannam, a veteran in telling us about the role of the media in the Arab world – especially social media.
Here is a quote:
“But for all the attention to the scale of the tragedy, the kinds of information needed by the victims is often lost. To listen to Nabil Al Khatib, executive editor of Saudiowned Al Arabiya, based in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, the human stories in the conflicts are buried under the daily tallies of those killed. “This is a lost story,” he says. “You will find that most reporters are reporting in a general way. It leads to boring reporting and it leads to people being detached from news,” Al Khatib says. “This is one of the biggest challenges, and it can only be resolved by training. I started my TV reporting career covering Palestine, Israel, and Jordan and my biggest issue was how to continue reporting from a humanitarian point of view and focus on individuals. Individual stories are always unique and people would like to hear them.” He says reporters covering the migrant crisis for the network in Europe were senior correspondents based in the region. While not all were trained in covering crises from a humanitarian point of view, the network devoted significant resources for special reports from Europe, tracking the migrant crisis with live reports, which Al Khatib points to with great pride as a journalistic, logistic, and operational success. Still, he says, training and raising awareness among the rank and file are needed to produce stories about the wars’ impact on humanity. “If you try to check how many humanitarian stories there are about Syrians stuck in Syria, you will see very few reports,” Al Khatib says. “The [civilians] are not being covered, the fighters are being covered. This is what the news agencies are looking for, they buy this footage from fixers who just learned how to use a video camera. A rocket was shot from here, a child got killed from here…..”
Gamal Eid has been a voice of hope for journalists across the Arab world. His struggle has been a struggle to bring respect for law and human right to journalism, and respect for the work that Arab journalists do.
Here’s a plea and a compelling statement from here. Please share your thoughts.
القاهرة – في 20 أبريل سيقرر ثلاثة قضاة بإحدى محاكم القاهرة هل سيسمحون للنيابة أن تواصل قضيتها ضدي ومتهم آخر هو الصحفي والمدافع الحقوقي حسام بهجت، في إطار هجمة الحكومة المستمرة ضد المنظمات غير الحكومية المستقلة في مصر أم لا.
القضية ضدي تستهدفني بسبب دوري في تأسيس الشبكة العربية لمعلومات حقوق الإنسان، التي تهدف الى توعية الجمهور المصري بحقوقه المدنية وحقوق الإنسان. أما بالنسبة لحسام بهجت، المعروف بأن صحافته الاستقصائية تهز الحكومة، فإن القضية ضده تركز على أنشطة المنظمة التي أسسها، وهي المبادرة المصرية للحقوق الشخصية.
لقد خصّونا دون غيرنا لأن منظمتينا تقومان بتوفير دعم قوي لمن يتعرض لانتهاكات حقوق الإنسان في مصر. فقد دافعنا عن ضحايا التعذيب من مختلف الأطياف: إخوان مسلمين، ليبراليين، يساريين، ضحايا الاعتقال العشوائي، وحتى مؤيدي النظام. لقد دافعنا عن فكرة أن حقوق الإنسان هي للجميع بغض النظر عن الأيديولوجية، وأن الحقوق المدنية مكفولة لكل المواطنين بغض النظر عن خلفيتهم أو ثروتهم أو نفوذهم.
هذا الأسبوع سوف يقرر القضاة كذلك ما إذا يحق للنيابة أن تفرض علينا غلق المكاتب، والمنع من السفر، وتجميد الأرصدة، وتوجيه اتهامات جنائية. وإذا حكمت المحكمة بذلك، فسيكون هذا بمثابة قيام الحكومة المصرية ليس فقط بغلق المنظمات المستهدفة حاليا، بل كل المؤسسات غير التابعة للدولة والمستقلة عن الأجهزة الأمنية، والتي تتبنى موقفا ناقدا لانتهاكات حقوق الإنسان.
الاتهامات الموجهة لنا هي أن نشاطاتنا تسيء لسمعة مصر، وأن مؤسساتنا أُسست خارج إطار القانون الخاص بالمنظمات غير الحكومية، وأننا نتلقى تمويلا من الخارج لدعم الإرهاب. هذه الاتهامات لا أساس لها، وإذا كانت محاكمتنا قانونية وليست سياسية فسنثبت ذلك.
مهما كانت درجة غموض هذه القضية، إلا أن الرسالة المقصودة منها واضحة: هكذا ينوي نظام الرئيس عبد الفتاح السيسي المدعوم من الجيش أن يقضي على آخر ما تبقى من المنظمات المدنية المستقلة في البلاد.
النظم السلطوية بشكل عام معادية لمجتمع مدني قوي. ومصر ليست استثناء. إلا أننا تحت حكم الرئيس حسني مبارك قمنا ببناء مجتمع مدني ناقد ومستقل بالرغم من المضايقات الروتينية من جانب الحكومة. وفي تلك الفترة كانت الشرطة قادرة على إغلاق المنظمات، ولكن نادرا ما كان يتم إغلاق المنظمات بشكل نهائي، ويكاد يكون حبس الموظفين أمرا لم نسمع به من قبل.
لكن الأمور بعد مرور 5 سنوات على سقوط مبارك تغيرت تماما. وإن كان لدى مبارك القدر الكافي من الثقة ليترك الجماعات المستقلة تعمل خارج سيطرة الدولة، فالسيسي يفتقر الى هذه الثقة بالنفس.
المجتمع المدني ضروري في بلد كمصر لأن هذه المجموعات الحقوقية يمكن أن تلعب دور الوسيط في حالات التوتر والصراع. وهذا الدور في أوقات الأزمات يكون حيويا. في عام 2011، عندما خرج الملايين منا الى الشوارع للاحتجاج ضد النظام المباركي، يرجع الفضل الى جماعات مثلنا بجانب النقابات العمالية والمؤسسات المهنية والجمعيات الخيرية في إحداث تغيير حاسم في المحصلة النهائية: توفير الأسس لكي تظل تلك التظاهرات سلمية وبناءة، بينما إخواننا وأخواتنا في سوريا وليبيا لم يحالفهم الحظ، إذ تحولت الاحتجاجات هناك بسرعة الى نزاع مسلح لافتقاد مجتمع مدني يوفر هذه الأسس.
بعد الإطاحة بمبارك عملت مجموعات مثلنا على ترجمة المشكلات المزمنة والاحتياجات التي طال انتظارها الى مطالب قابلة للتطبيق، وعملت أيضا على ضمان أن تبقى تلك المطالب الشعبية ضمن المفاوضات السياسية. وفي عام 2011، على سبيل المثال، أطلقتْ منظمتي مبادرة شارك فيها المئات من القضاة والمحامين وضباط الشرطة والصحفيين وغيرهم في محاولة لإصلاح وزارة الداخلية، التي كانت مخيفة آنذاك. وقمنا بعقد دورات تدريبية لضباط الشرطة في أكاديمية الشرطة وتشاورنا مع مسؤولين في الوزارة.
وللأسف تم عرقلة مشروعنا مع وزارة الداخلية في نهاية المطاف من قبل الأطراف التي لا تريد الإصلاح. وقد تغير كل شيء بالفعل مع وصول السيسي الى السلطة في عام 2013، وبدأ عهد جديد أكثر قمعا.
أولا، تم الاعتداء على الجمعيات الخيرية للإخوان المسلمين، وأعقب ذلك إغلاق مؤسسات ثقافية مستقلة. واستمر نظام السيسي في إغلاق ومحاكمة قطاع واسع من المنظمات غير الحكومية التي كانت تنادي بالرعاية الصحية والتعليم وحرية الصحافة والإصلاح الديمقراطي والحكم الرشيد. ولئن كان البعض، مثل منظمتي، منتقدا بشكل صريح للسياسة الرسمية، فإن الكثيرين آثروا البقاء بعيدا عن السياسة وكرسوا جهودهم لتقديم الخدمات الأساسية التي أهملت الحكومة في توفيرها.
اليوم أصبحنا قليلين للغاية. ونحن نعلم أنه بدون دور الوساطة الذي تلعبه المؤسسات المدنية المستقلة، يمكن للخلاف الاجتماعي العادي أن يتحول بسهولة الى صراع قومي. فالأقوياء يمكن أن يستغلوا الخلافات العادية بين الجماعات والمجموعات العرقية والطبقات الاجتماعية والزج بهم نحو سياسة القوة الغاشمة. وعندما يحدث ذلك في بلد تحت نظام سلطوي يتحول المجال والواقع العام بأكمله الى لعبة لا بد فيها من خاسر بين من يملكون السلطة شبه المطلقة وأولئك الذين أصبحت حقوقهم الأساسية في خطر.
نظام السيسي يواجه تحديات أكبر بكثير من تلك التي كانت تواجه مبارك في أواخر أيام حكمه، خاصة في ظل اقتصاد يتردى، وحرب طاحنة لمكافحة التطرف في سيناء، وتفشي حالة واسعة من عدم الرضا الشعبي. من الصعب أن نتصور الحكومة الحالية تواجه هذه الأزمات على عدة جبهات بدون الاعتماد على الأساس الصلب الذي توفره منظمات المجتمع المدني. ولذلك يبدو هجوم السيسي على المجتمع المدني قصير النظر جدا.
إذا خسرنا جولة هذا الأسبوع من معركتنا القانونية، فقد تأخذ حياتي الشخصية منعطفا مؤلما. لكن الشعب المصري هو الذي سيتحمل العبء الأكبر، لأنه قريبا سيفتقد الحماية التي تحول بينه وبين دولة تنهار.
Peace Journalism is journalism that reports on conflicts and crises.
Here are some guidelines in English and Arabic – click on the PDF
Are these possible? Let’s talk
Before you finish your reporting, ask these questions:
- Is this news necessary? Does it tell both sides of the situation?
- Will this news story lead to violence, prejudice, or community distrust of negotiators for peace? If so, can you tell this story in a different way?
- Do you have different voices and different opinions in your reporting?
- Do you talk to the people, whose lives have been affected by the situation? Or did you only talk to experts and government officials?
- Do you use words or scenes or narratives that will offend people or cause more strife or conflict? How can you avoid doing this?
Explaining conflicts and crises:
Ask yourself these questions as you report:
- What are the causes of the conflict?
- What do the different sides believe? What separates them? What do they have in common?
- What is the history of the conflict according to the different sides? What is the bigger picture?
- Who are the major individuals and groups involved?
- How has the crisis or conflict evolved over time? Provide a time line.
- What solutions have been heard? What do you know about the reality of these solutions? Explore the options considered by the different groups. What options are likely to bring about peace or healing?
- What steps are needed to reconcile past problems?
- Are there proposals for temporary solutions?
- What are the major obstacles to peace or healing?
- Suggestion: treat the emotions as symptoms of the crisis? How?
Suggested rules for your reporting
Do not just talk to leaders and officials.
Do not tell only about one’s side suffering and problems. Tell the whole story of all involved.
Do not repeat the words or statements of leaders without offering you own explanation of their meaning and the facts.
Do not downplay or ignore efforts to reach a solution
Do not use words that inflame and stir hatred or images
Do not report on rumors or gossip without giving the full context.
Find out the facts about rumors or gossips that appears to add fuel to the conflict or crisis. Let your reporting explain the facts behind the rumors. Explain who may be behind the rumors and what they have to gain.
Let your news outlet become a source for filtering rumors and gossip on a timely basis. Create a website that responds to these forces that drive the public.
Add documents and other resources to your website to educate your audience on all of the issues involved
Do not ignore the suffering or problems. Show that you are presenting a whole picture of the past and of what has happened to all sides. But don’t let that become the whole story.
Show the impact of violence or problems in the past. Explain what might happens if these issues continue in the future.
Conflicts are complex. Avoid simple descriptions of the causes.
Show the humanity of the people involved and on all sides
- You should remember that your reporting will affect the conflict and the lives of people in it. How can you monitor this?
Avoid being used by one side or the other and to report – and if you can, avid attempts to use your reporting to figure one side or to continue the conflict.
A Basic Reminder
Do what is possible. Do not cross redlines that will cause problems for your and your news organization or your family. Move slowly forward with your news reporting. Do not rush into problems that will halt your reporting. Stay focused on what you can tell honestly and completely and what matters.
This is a collection taken from many reports and studies by organizations across the globe involved in better reporting on peace and justice and conflict resolution. Steve Youngblood’s work has been especially important. Please share your work and advice.
Another voice online…please read here…
ليست من السهولة إدخال مفاهيم الجندر(النوع الاجتماعي) في عالمنا العربي فقد تمت احاطته بالكثير من الشكوك والأوهام التي جعلت الحديث عنه كأنه محاولة لهدم الأخلاق والفضيلة وزعزعة الأمن الوطني والقومي، وهذا ليس من قبيل المبالغة انما من الوقائع التي تحكيها تفاصيل رافقت الحركة النسوية في بلادنا، وما سأتحدث عنه يتعلق بالواقع السوري.
في محاضرة ألقاها راتب النابلسي (دكتور في الشريعة وداعية ديني) بالمركز الثقافي بكفرسوسة في دمشق منذ سنوات بمشاركة عبود السرّاج (دكتور في قانون العقوبات) تحدّث عن الجندر والسيداو وهذه المفاهيم الرهيبة التي يريد الغرب ادخالها في مجتمعاتنا!! لخّص حينها الداعية هذا المفهوم بقصّة تتحدث عن (شاب أجنبي أراد الزواج من فتاة فمنعه أبوه عنها بقوله أنها أختك لكن لا احد يدري الا والدتها،وعندما فاتح أمّه بالموضوع قالت له تزوجها فانها ليست أختك وهذا ليس أبوك ولا أحد يعلم..!!) بطريقة سردية تثير الرأي العام ضد كل هذه المفاهيم حيث انطلق من الأخلاق والدين وخطر زعزعة كيان الأسرة والمجتمع مع تنامي مفهوم الجندر والمساواة والنيّة المبيته لدى الغرب كي تتقوّض الأسرة كما هو الحال في بلاد الغرب الكافر (على حدّ تعبيره) بطريقة قلب المفاهيم وتحويرها لينفر منها المجتمع المحافظ.
وفي إحدى المحاضرات يقول استاذ في القانون:”الامبريالية العالمية لا يمكنها الدخول في المجتمعات العربية المحافظة إلا بإحدى الطريقتين هما إسرائيل والنساء”.
من خلال هاتين الواقعتين وغيرهما الكثير، يظهر موقف نسبة من المجتمع تجاه موضوع المساواة بين الرجل والمرأة و من مفهوم الجندر، فلهذه المفاهيم برأيهم أهداف لهدم الأسرة وتقويض الأديان هكذا حاول بعض رجال الدين والمجتمع والقانون اظهاره وبدى ذلك واضحاًعند وضع التحفظات على اتفاقية السيداو (إزالة جميع أشكال التمييز ضد المرأة) والحرب التي بدأت ضد الحركات النسائية والمجتمع المدني عندما بدأوا بالعمل على ازالة التحفظات عن الاتفاقية، وخاصة أن التحفظ على المادة الثانية من الاتفاقية يقوّض الاتفاقية ككل فلا معنى لكل الاتفاقية بوجودها.
أما هذا الموقف والتخوّف والنظرة المؤامراتية تظهر جليّةً عند بداية كل تدريب على مفهوم الجندر حيث تطفوا المفاهيم المغلوطة على سطح الجلسات فتظهر الأفكار المسبقة الخاطئة والمغروسة جيداً من قبل اللوبي الديني القانوني التي تصل إلى حد الاعتقاد بأن الجندر والمساواة يعنيان أن يحبل الرجل وأن تربي المرأة لحية أو شارباً!!
ومن هنا يبدأ التحدّي أمام المدربة-ب في البحث عن طرائق جديدة بسيطة و عميقة لتغير الأفكار المسبقة المغلوطة عن الجندر وادخال المفهوم الحقيقي للجندر ودوره في العنف على المرأة وكذلك حول اتفاقية السيداو وأهميتها في ازالة التمييز ضد النساء، والبحث عن الطرق في دعم النساء للوصول الى المساواة ، ويبدو المدرّب-ة كمن يدخل في حقل ألغام عليها أن تنتقي الكلمات والتعابير وتكون قادرة على المواجهة مع أي سؤال صعب أو يحمل أكثر من معنى، لذلك نستخدم في التدريب محاكاة الواقع من خلال أمثلة بسيطة تبدأ بسؤال المشاركين-ات عن الأفعال التي حرموا من القيام بها لأنهم ذكور أو لأنهن اناث، والأفعال التي كانوا يجبرون على فعلها لأنهن اناث أو لأنهم ذكور، ليظهر بالرسم البياني كم الأفعال التي تجبر النساء على فعلها أو عدم فعلها مقارنة بالرجال طبعاً منذ الطفولة إلى اليوم، مع التنويه إلى أن هذه الفوارق تختلف بحسب الزمان والمكان والبيئة والوضع الاقتصادي ما يعني أنه متغير، ليصل المشاركين-ات إلى فكرة النوع الاجتماعي بأنه الاختلاف بين الذكور والإناث ما بعد الولادة وهو يتأثر بالمجتمع فيتغير بحسب الزمان والمكان، ومن ثم يتم التطرّق الى مناقشة الأدوار في المجتمع من الإنجابية والمجتمعية والإنتاجية والتعريف بها وإظهار الدور الأكثر التصاقاً بالنساء نتيجة التمييز ما يحيّد النساء عن عملية التنمية وعن حقها كمواطنة في الوصول الى الموارد والاستفادة منها والمشاركة في جميع الأدوار كالرجل تماماً، ويصل المشاركون-ات إلى النتائج بطرق سلسة وبسيطة لتزيل العقبات التي عمل اللوبي الذكوري على ترسيخها لعقود منعاً من فهمها وبالتالي ازالتها وبذلك تبدو أهمية التدريب على النوع الاجتماعي بأنه يعكس المعاناة الواقعة على المرأة والمتمثلة في التمييز المجحف وحرمانها من المساهمة الفاعلة في عملية التنمية، وإظهار كل ما يؤدي الى تحجيم وتهميش الجهود المبذولة في مشاركة المرأة للنهوض بالمجتمع وتحقيق الرفاهية ..
ويبقى المدرّب-ة على إدخال مفاهيم الجندر كالواقف على هاوية ستقلبه أي ريح لم يتوقّع قدومها..
*رهادة عبدوش: محامية سورية ومختصة بقضايا العنف والتمييز ضد النساء
الآراء الواردة في قسم صوت مو صدى تعبر عن آراء كاتباتها ولا تعبر عن رأي الشبكة بالضرورة.
from Jamal Khashoggi
I have been affected by the Arab Spring. Some criticize me for calling it a “historical inevitability,” as if by attacking the Spring we can put an end to it. My problem began after what happened in Egypt in the summer of 2013. I have been losing friends since. I did not call it a coup – I believe the military regained a power it had held for 1,000 years. Maybe they were not friends, as a real friend cannot be lost just because your opinions differ.
Some also claim I misled them because I portrayed myself as a liberal but did not welcome the “popular revolution” that brought down the Muslim Brotherhood. I was unable to convince them that my stand is based on the principles of freedom and democracy, because they are the best solutions for Arab states that have failed due to military rule.
Some said my enthusiasm for the Egyptian revolution of Jan. 2011 was due to me being a latent supporter of the Brotherhood. The numerous articles in which I have criticized the Brotherhood and blamed it for the collapse of democracy did not change their opinion.
An editor-in-chief at a prominent newspaper disapproved that I applauded the Friday sermon by Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi in Tahrir Square a week after the fall of former President Hosni Mubarak. I was astounded by the symbolism of the moment, and considered it a sign of the rise of freedom of expression in Egypt. However, the editor-in-chief only saw the Brotherhood in this picture.
He wrote an article entitled “The deceivers,” in which he said I had fooled him and others because they knew me as a liberal. He, who was supposed to be a friend, was unable to understand that liberalism is for everyone, and if applied selectively will no longer be liberal. The holder of a free pen defends principles and refuses to be restricted.
I wrote articles in which I urged stable Arab countries to help their neighbors, and called for an Arab Marshall Plan. “You want a Marshall Plan to support the Muslim Brotherhood,” replied a colleague in an article in the same newspaper, who is proud to support non-transparent rule and describes his position as courageous and noble.
In the Arab world, everyone thinks journalists cannot be independent, but I represent myself. What would I be worth if I succumbed to pressure to change my opinions?
A few weeks ago, my friend Nawaf Obeid admonished me, saying: “You need to write an article in which you confirm that you are not a supporter of the Brotherhood.” I replied: “Whatever I say, I’ll never convince those who suffer from Brotherhood-phobia. They say I support this party because I criticize their favorite regime. Do that and you too will be accused of being a Brotherhood supporter.”
In the Arab world, everyone thinks journalists cannot be independent, but I represent myself, which is the right thing to do. What would I be worth if I succumbed to pressure to change my opinions? The atmosphere of freedom must be preserved, and I am happy that my government is doing so. A public meeting I had with a group of youths in Riyadh to discuss the volatile regional environment was recorded and broadcast online without any curtailment.
That was the best cure for the articles that were attacking me and the friends who were abandoning me. I talked to the youths for more than two hours, and answered their questions freely. I felt then that the world cannot bring down someone who is free on the inside. I want to be free, to think freely and write freely. I am free to do so.
This article was first published in al-Hayat on Dec. 26, 2015.
Jamal Khashoggi is a Saudi journalist, columnist, author, and general manager of the upcoming Al Arab News Channel. He previously served as a media aide to Prince Turki al Faisal while he was Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to the United States. Khashoggi has written for various daily and weekly Arab newspapers, including Asharq al-Awsat, al-Majalla and al-Hayat, and was editor-in-chief of the Saudi-based al-Watan. He was a foreign correspondent in Afghanistan, Algeria, Kuwait, Sudan, and other Middle Eastern countries. He is also a political commentator for Saudi-based and international news channels. Twitter: @JKhashoggi
Last Update: Wednesday, 30 December 2015 KSA 08:08 – GMT 05:08
Good reporting talks to us about what matters. It questions. It points us towards answers. It makes us wonder about our lives, our communities.
Here is a story about domestic violence in Jordan from Ammanet that takes these steps; a good example of reporting that gives us context and helps us to see what needs to be done.
– Only 5 out of 17,000 cases considered by family reconciliation committees since 2008
– Law on Protection from Domestic Violence failing to protect the family
– Laws in contradiction with separation of powers
– Courts neglecting to use the law
27-year-old Sofia’s husband abuses her in myriad ways: from beating her on the face to kicking, throwing coffee and hot tea at her, cutting her hair forcibly and threatening to kill her, brandishing a knife in her face.
A slim-figured, fresh-faced native of Amman, Sofia was married five years ago – and has lived in humiliation and insult ever since. She once thought married life would be filled with bliss and mutual respect. “I spent the flower of my youth on our time close together… only for him to defame my honor with the ugliest words.”
“He gives me a dinar and I spend it at home. He spends all his income on drinks. Sometimes there is no bread at home,” said Sofia, who said her husband won’t provide for the family. She does domestic work to feed her two children. When her husband learns of this, he accuses her of prostitution.
Sofia first complained to the Department of Family Protection (DFP) in September 2010. She received no opportunity to present her case until her fourth attempt in 2013 – by then, the abuse had been going on for four years. She brought a medical report stating that she’d been beaten by her husband, but was shocked by the DFP employee’s reply: “Your solution is to go to the shari’a court. Get divorced.”
Sofia refused to divorce her husband.Instead, she wanted follow-up visits and protection from the violence.
The DFP only labeled her husband a perpetrator of violence, asking him to sign a pledge not to further harm against her – but he never showed up. After all Sofia’s communication with the DFP, her husband only beat his wife and children more than ever before.
DFP Director of Public Relations Naji Al-Bataineh said that although his administration possesses full law enforcement powers, they did not go after the violent husband because this would exacerbate inner family problems, especially since the crime did not require arrest or detainment.
Sofia is one of 12,000 cases that the Ministry of Social Development has left without any follow up since 1998, according to DFP reports in the East Amman administration’s files.
This investigation reveals that the 2008 Law on Protection from Domestic Violence is weak, defective and unimplemented. Successive governments have failed to implement the law and to form the family reconciliation committees to whom the DFP and courts are supposed to pass domestic violence cases. All follow-up actions depend on this process, without which 32,000 cases of domestic violence reviewed by the DFP in the last 4 years will continue without solution or redress.
Without a national register of domestic violence cases, it is difficult to quantify the true size of the problem for abused women in Jordan. The Ministry of Social Development’s numbersindicate approximately 4100 cases of domestic abuse in 2013. DFP statistics, in contrast, show approximately 7500 in the same year, whereas the National Committee for omen’s Affairs reports 2100 cases.
25-year-old Samira (name changed for protection) was raped by her employer and threatened with death by her brother after she’d given birth to a child from the rape. She turned to the DFP, seeking not to become a victim of “honor crime” accusations. The DFP sent her to a family reconciliation house.
After Samira had lived in the house for two years, the director of the house entered her room one morning, asking her to get out of bed, change quickly, leave her son and go to the DFP for case review.
The DFP decided to remove Samira from the house as a solution to her problem. But Samira was under a death threat and refused to leave. “How can you ask me to leave? I don’t have any place to go,” she said. The response: “There will be a shelter for you.”
No administrators found a shelter for Samira. She returned to where she’d been.
The story continues:
from Reporters Without Borders
تحديث: يأتي إتمام مصرلليوم الثالث للتصويت على اختيار رئيس جديد، في الوقت الذي تشهد فيه البلاد حملة من القمع المشدد على مدار أكثر من 10 أشهر، أدت إلى مناخ قمعي يقوض كثيراً من نزاهة الانتخابات. (هيومان ريتس وتش، 28 مايو 2014)
بمناسبة الانتخابات الرئاسية المزمع عقدها يومي 26 و27 مايو\أيار الجاري، وبينما تشير جل الترشيحات إلى فوز عبد الفتاح السيسي بغالبية الأصوات، تستعرض مراسلون بلا حدود حصيلة حالة وسائل الإعلام والفاعلين الإعلاميين والوضع العام لحرية الإعلام تحت حكم القائد السابق للقوات المسلحة المصرية خلال الأشهر الأحد عشر الأخيرة.
صحيح أن مصر اعتمدت دستوراً جديداً يكفل حرية الإعلام بعد استفتاء شعبي في يناير\كانون الثاني الماضي، بيد أن الصورة العامة تظل قاتمة في ظل تزايد وتيرة الانتهاكات ضد وسائل الإعلام، سواء تعلق الأمر بعمليات اغتيال الصحفيين أو اعتقالهم أو إغلاق المؤسسات الإعلامية.
وفي هذا الصدد، أكدت لوسي موريون، مديرة الأبحاث في منظمة مراسلون بلا حدود، أن “حالة حرية الصحافة تدهورت بشكل ملحوظ منذ وصول الجيش إلى السلطة، حيث تم القبض على 65 صحفياً على الأقل في مدة تقل عن سنة واحدة، فيما لا يزال 17 إعلامياً قابعين في السجون“، مجددة تأكيدها على “حث السلطات المصرية لاحترام الدستور الجديد الذي يضمن حرية الصحافة“، مشددة في الوقت ذاته على “ضرورة الإفراج الفوري عن كافة الصحفيين المعتقلين حالياً وإسقاط التهم الموجهة إلى الفاعلين الإعلاميين“.
مقتل ستة صحفيين
منذ عزل الرئيس مرسي، لقي ستة إعلاميين حتفهم جراء إصابتهم بالرصاص الحي، علماً أن أغلبهم كانوا يغطون المسيرات المؤيدة لمرسي.
ففي يوم 8 يوليو\تموز 2013، قُتل مصور صحيفة الحرية والعدالة، أحمد عاصم سمير السنوسي، إثر إصابته بطلقة نارية خلال تغطية اشتباكات في محيط مقر الحرس الجمهوري بالقاهرة.
وكان يوم 14 أغسطس\آب يوماً مشؤوماً بالنسبة للصحفيين، حيث قُتل كل من ميك دين، مصور قناة سكاي نيوز، وأحمد عبد الجواد، مراسل يومية الأخبار المصرية، ومصعب الشامي، المصور الصحفي في شبكة رصد الإخبارية، بالرصاص بينما كانوا يغطون المواجهات الدائرة بين قوات الأمن والمتظاهرين المؤيدين لمرسي في ميدان رابعة العدوية بالقاهرة.
وفي ليلة 19-20 أغسطس/آب 2013، قُتِل تامر عبد الرؤوف، مدير المكتب الإقليمي لصحيفة الأهرام المصرية، جراء عملية إطلاق نار عند نقطة تفتيش أقامها الجيش في دمنهور بمحافظة البحيرة الشمالية. كما لقيت ميادة أشرف، صحفية جريدة الدستور والموقع الإخباري مصر العربية، مصرعها بعدما إصابتها برصاصة في الرأس يوم 28 مارس\آذار 2014 أثناء تغطية المظاهرة التي نظمها أنصار الإخوان المسلمين في منطقة عين شمس احتجاجاً على إعلان ترشيح عبد الفتاح السيسي في الانتخابات الرئاسية.
هذا ولم تقدم السلطات المصرية حتى الآن على فتح أي تحقيق مستقل ونزيه لمعاقبة مرتكبي عمليات القتل التي أودت بأرواح الصحفيين.
شهدت الأشهر الأحد عشر الماضية موجة اعتقالات تبعث على القلق بشكل خاص. فحسب إحصائيات لجنة حماية الصحفيين سُجِّل أكثر من 65 حالة إيقاف في صفوف الصحفيين، بين معتقلين ومحتجزين خلال الفترة الممتدة من 3 يوليو\تموز 2013 و30 أبريل\نيسان 2014، علماً أن هذه الحملة استهدفت بشكل خاص الإعلاميين التابعين للإخوان المسلمين أو أولئك الذين يُعتبرون في عداد المقربين من هذه الجماعة التي أصبحت محظورة من جديد. بيد أن “ملاحقة الإخوان” لا تقتصر على الصحفيين المصريين، بل تشمل أيضاً نظراءهم الأتراك والفلسطينيين والسوريين وذلك في تعارض تام مع بعض أحكام الدستور الجديد، حيث تلجأ السلطات إلى ذرائع واهية لإبقاء الإعلاميين قيد الاحتجاز.
كما لا يزال سبعة عشر صحفياً رهن الاعتقال (وفقاً للأرقام التي نشرتها لجنة حماية الصحفيين)، ومن بينهم محمد عادل فهمي، مدير مكتب الجزيرة في القاهرة، والمراسل الأسترالي بيتر غريست، و باهر محمد، الذين يقبعون في الحبس الاحتياطي منذ إلقاء القبض عليهم يوم 29 ديسمبر\كانون الأول 2013، علماً أن محاكمتهم – ومحاكمة بقية “الصحفيين” الـ17 المحتجزين – انطلقت في 20 فبراير\شباط الماضي، لكنها تأجلت أكثر من مرة. ذلك أن عشرين شخصاً تتهمهم السلطات بالعمل لصالح شبكة الجزيرة (من بينهم أربعة صحفيين أجانب)، حيث يحاكمون بتهمة محاولة “إضعاف هيبة الدولة وتكدير السلم العام” و”نشر معلومات كاذبة“، بينما يُتهم المصريون منهم بالانتماء إلى “منظمة إرهابية” كذلك. وقد تم القبض على ثمانية بينما يحاكم الـ12 الآخرون غيابياً علماً أن إدارة الجزيرة أكدت أن أربعة فقط من هؤلاء الصحفيين يعملون في القناة. ومهما يكن، فإن محاكمة “صحفيي الجزيرة” تحمل دلالات رمزية تعكس حالة حرية التعبير والإعلام في مصر اليوم.
من جهته، لا يزال مراسل الجزيرة عبد الله الشامي قابعاً في السجن منذ 14 أغسطس\آب. ورغم أن القاضي قرر في جلسة 3 مايو\أيار تمديد فترة اعتقاله لـ45 يوماً إضافياً فإنه لم يُوجه إليه أية تهمة رسمية حتى الآن. ويخوض الشامي إضراباً عن الطعام منذ 21 يناير\كانون الثاني احتجاجاً على اعتقاله ظلماً وعدواناً، علماً أنه نُقل بشكل سري إلى سجن العقرب يوم 12 مايو\أيار الماضي ، حيث أكد محاميه أن حالته الصحية قد تكون خطيرة للغاية.
وبدوره اعتُقل محمود أبو زيد، المصور المستقل المتعاون مع ديموتكس وكوربيس، يوم 14 أغسطس/آب 2013 في ميدان رابعة العدوية، وهو محتجز حالياً في سجن طرة. أما سعيد شحاتة وأحمد جمال، صحفيا شبكة يقين الإخبارية، فقد أُلقي عليهما القبض بتاريخ 30 ديسمبر\كانون الأول 2013 بينما كانا يغطيان احتجاجات جامعة الأزهر في القاهرة، حيث يواجهان تهمة “المشاركة في مظاهرات غير قانونية” و”إهانة ضابط شرطة“. من جهته، اعتُقل كريم شلبي، مراسل المصدر، أثناء تغطيته لمظاهرة معادية للحكومة يوم 25 يناير\كانون الثاني، وهو متهم بدوره “بالمشاركة في مظاهرة غير قانونية“. كما أُلقي القبض على عبد الرحمن شاهين، صحفي جريدة الحرية والعدالة (التابعة للإخوان) يوم 3 أبريل\نيسان حيث يحاكم بتهمة “التحريض على العنف“. وفي السياق ذاته، اعتُقلت سماح إبراهيم، مراسلة الصحيفة نفسها، يوم 14 يناير\كانون الثاني قبل أن يصدر حُكم ابتدائي في حقها يوم 17 مارس\آذار حيث تواجه عقوبة السجن لمدة سنة واحدة مع الشغل. وبعد الطعن الذي تقدمت به لمحكمة الاستئناف، تم تخفيض عقوبتها إلى ستة أشهر سجناً وغرامة قدرها 50.000 جنيه مصري (5300 يورو).
وتشكل هذه الاعتقالات التعسفية والاحتجازات الجائرة تعارضاً صارخاً مع مقتضيات الدستور الجديد، ولا سيما المادة 71.
إن هذا الاستقطاب الشديد الذي يطغى على وسائل الإعلام المصرية (سواء المؤيدة لمرسي أو المناهضة له) يزيد من حدة الاستقطاب المستشري بشكل عام في المجتمع المصري ككل. فكما يتبين منذ بداية الحملة الانتخابية، لا تتوانى العديد من المنابر في الإفصاح علناً عن دعمها للنظام الحاكم، وهي بالتالي لا تضطلع بدورها المتمثل في مراقبة السلطات وضمان الضوابط والموازين.
أعضاء IFEX الذين يعملون في هذا البلد
الشبكة العربية لمعلومات حقوق الإنسان
المنظمة المصرية لحقوق الإنسان
مركز القاهرة لدراسات حقوق الإنسان
مؤسسة حرية الفكر والتعبير
قضايا حرية التعبير الأكثر تغطية في هذا البلد
حرية التعبير والقانونحرية التجمعاعتداءاتالرقابة
تقارير هامة ومعلومات
رقباء الإبداع : دراسة في الرقابة على التعبير الفني في مصر
مؤسسة حرية الفكر والتعبير 24 أبريل 2014
محاكمات الإيمان: دراسة في قضايا إزدراء الأديان في مصر
مؤسسة حرية الفكر والتعبير 7 أبريل 2014
حرية تداول المعلومات في مصر: دراسة قانونية
مؤسسة حرية الفكر والتعبير 5 مارس 2014
مصر: مدخل نحو تحرير المعرفة
مؤسسة حرية الفكر والتعبير 21 فبراير 2014
التهديدات والمضايقات والهجوم، وأسوأ من ذلك- استخدام التخويف كوسيلة لقمع حرية التعبير.
تقارير هامة ومعلومات
إستنساخ القمع : التقرير السنوي لحرية التعبير في مصر والعالم العربي 2013
الشبكة العربية لمعلومات حقوق الإنسان 3 مايو 2014
التقرير السنوي – انتهاكات الحريات الإعلامية في فلسطين 2013
المركز الفلسطيني للتنمية و الحريات الإعلامية – مدى 5 مارس 2014
حصار الحقيقة : تقرير حول الاعتداءات والانتهاكات بحق الإعلاميين في مصر
مركز القاهرة لدراسات حقوق الإنسان 3 أكتوبر 2013
البلدان الأكثر حدوثاً لهذا الانتهاك
البحريني نبيل رجب يعود إلى بيته
Bahraini human rights activist Nabeel Rajab with his family after his release on 24 May 2014
أطلق سراح الناشط في مجال حقوق الإنسان البحريني نبيل رجب من السجن بتاريخ 24 أيار عام 2014. اعرفوا المزيد حول إلهامه!
|CAIRO: Before I embark on this editorial, I’d like to express my profound gratitude to Egypt’s venerable Military Prosecutor for giving the “No to Military Trials” campaign its biggest public boost yet earlier this week.It’s hard to think of any other activist more capable of galvanizing masses of pro-democracy advocates both inside and outside Egypt, than Alaa Abdel Fattah, who was detained for 15 days pending investigations because, as a civilian, he refused to be interrogated by a military prosecutor, drawing attention to an injustice faced by some 12,000 Egyptians since the army took power.
The trumped-up charges he faces were another reason why Abdel Fattah rejected the military prosecutor: he is being questioned in relation to the bloody Oct. 9 Maspero massacre, and may face charges of “inciting violence” against the military, ironically during clashes where 27 peaceful protesters were either shot by “unknown civilians” or crushed to death by armored personnel carriers.
Abdel Fattah also categorically rejected the lopsided notion of having the military prosecution investigate a criminal case in which the military is party to the crimes committed. It’s not rocket science: the military prosecutor is not a neutral party in this case and hence cannot be the only body allowed to probe it.
The very idea of painting Abdel Fattah as some kind of public enemy is absurd, not only because of his genetic pedigree as a member of one of the most respected activist families in Egypt (his father is Ahmed Seif Al Islam, the founder of the Hisham Mubarak Law Center which provides legal aid to victims of human rights abuses; his mother is Leila Soueif, a university professor and one of the founders of the March 9 movement which advocates academic freedom and university independence) but also because of his own contribution to the reawakening of Egyptian youth through his online activity, virtual discussion forums and street activism.
Clearly the target of this investigation is not to seek the truth about the identity of the ubiquitous “unknown civilians” intent on driving a wedge between the people and the army, but to perpetuate the smear campaign against the youth who spearheaded Egypt’s non-violent uprising, a campaign that began months ago when one of SCAF’s communiqués singled out the April 6 Youth Movement, accusing it of pursuing a foreign agenda and accepting foreign funding. It’s no surprise that, according to lawyers, a member of April 6 too will be summoned in relation to the Maspero violence.
Speaking of the “unknown civilians” with “invisible hands”, it’s both shocking and telling how press reviews, radio and TV coverage of the National Council on Human Rights’ Maspero fact-finding committee report completely buried the lead.
While the coverage mainly focused on the fact that it was not the military police but provocateurs on motorcycles who infiltrated the protest and shot and killed seven protesters, there was rarely any mention of the most crucial finding confirming that 12 of the victims were crushed to death by APCs which randomly drove through the crowd that fateful day.
While the “unknown civilians” may never be pinned down, the independent investigation has established, presumably beyond a doubt considering that we all saw the footage, that the APCs definitely killed 12 people. The question is how far will the so-called “neutral” military prosecutor bear this “detail” in mind? Can the military accuse itself of killing peaceful protesters, or will we be faced with tall stories of how knife-wielding protesters attacked the army forces and how some of the “unknown civilians” took over the APCs and killed the protesters just to frame the army?
The point is, unless the investigation is conducted by a truly impartial, independent, civilian body with nothing at stake but to reveal the truth, as the NCHR report recommended in another “detail” that most press and media coverage ignored, the truth of what happened on Oct. 9 will be buried with the 27 innocent lives who were killed that day.
Like thousands of others, Alaa Abdel Fattah too is innocent of the charges he may soon be facing before an illegitimate military tribunal. But while he could have easily acquiesced, accepted the situation, answered the questions and simply walked out to spend the Eid holidays with his family and his first child, whose birth he will probably miss, simply for speaking truth to power, Abdel Fattah chose to take the road less taken. The fact that others, like Bahaa Saber, who did exactly what he did were released without so much as a reprimand, while Abdel Fattah’s appeal was turned down on Thursday, reinforces suspicions that there is more to what the military prosecution intends for Abdel Fattah than meets the eye.
Tragically, we have come full circle, as Abdel Fattah concludes in an opinion piece he wrote behind bars published Wednesday by Al Shorouk newspaper, titled “A Return to Mubarak’s Prisons”: “I did not expect that the very same experience would be repeated five years on, after a revolution in which we ousted the tyrant, I go back to jail?…I spent the first two days only listening to stories of torture at the hands of police that is not only adamant on resisting reform, but is seeking revenge for being defeated by the downtrodden, the guilty and the innocent.”
But there is a silver lining.
If there’s one thing we’ve learnt from the January 25 uprising, it’s that ideas cannot be jailed or intimidated, that the quest for justice is so deeply rooted within the human psyche that no matter how long it takes, how arduous the struggle, or how grand the sacrifice, come what may, the free spirit will ultimately prevail, even in the face of APCs and military courts.
Rania Al Malky is the Chief Editor of Daily News Egypt.
The stories we journalists tell should never be so perfect they are real. Here is a story about torture and injustice, a problem for Egypt too. But it is told by a government newspaper that a year ago would never consider thinking even about such a story.
What do you think
As Egyptians tried to shake loose nearly thirty years of darkness, the Egyptian press stumbled toward the sunlight, too. The early results portend vast journalistic shifts, and maybe not just in Egypt.
Egypt’s media have long been dominated by the state, as is true in much of the Arab world today. Egyptian journalists at the state-run outlets have traditionally been blind to the most pressing news while casting former president Hosni Mubarak as the people’s Pharaoh. Journalists who dared to touch taboo issues faced prison or heavy fines. News outlets that offended the regime were simply shut down. Independent bloggers were harassed and hounded by government-paid thugs.
It came as no surprise that when Al Jazeera, the fifteen-year-old Qatar-based outlet, defied threats and continued saturation reporting of the January 25th uprising, its Egyptian satellite signal was cut, its license pulled, and some of its journalists arrested. But Al Jazeera and its more conservative competitor, Dubai-based Al Arabiya, persevered. Along with a group of fearless bloggers and social media users, they cemented their place as the alternative to the state-run media’s lies.
In so doing, they underscored the necessity of honest, fearless reporting as a prerequisite for democratic change. The strongest message from Tahrir Square to journalists from Riyadh to Rabat is that stories that speak the truth carry the most power.
As the Mubarak regime’s shackles began to slip, Egyptian media reports began to change dramatically as journalists discovered their voices and consciences. Al Masry al Youm (Egypt Today), one of the country’s fledgling independent newspapers and a frequent regime critic, reported accounts of government thugs staging lootings. It challenged state media for spreading a “culture of fear” and conspiracy theories about Israeli-trained protestors. Journalists at Al Ahram, the government’s main mouthpiece, and at Rose al Youssef, another state-run paper, held demonstrations at their offices decrying corruption in journalism and lack of professionalism.
Some high-profile state television journalists took leaves of absence in protest of orders from on high to continue broadcasting propaganda. Shahira Amin, a prominent presenter, resigned. She told Al Jazeera’s English language service that she couldn’t “feed the public a pack of lies.”
While the upheaval’s fate was still unclear, Mohammed Ali Ibrahim, editor of Al Gomhouriya, a major state-run newspaper, addressed the protestors in a front-page column, saying, “We apologize for not hearing you, and if we heard you, for not paying attention to your demands.”
His apology was noted in Al Ahram’s English-language weekly, which also called out the state-run news media’s “reliance on exaggeration or outright lies” and refusal to tell the protestors’ stories. (Al Ahram didn’t mention its own record.)
This newfound honesty was only able to flourish after a path had been cleared both by journalists and social media users who risked their lives openly defying the government. Despite beatings and arrests, many journalists and bloggers persisted, bolstering morale by churning out ground-level accounts of critical events.
Twitter and the like became electronic megaphones, delivering both practical news (what streets were safe, where medics were needed) as well as charting participants’ emotions as they raced between elation, despair and, ultimately, absolute joy. Unlike failed protest drives by more established groups, youth-driven Facebook pages assembled thousands of supporters online and united disparate sectors of the eighty-million-person nation.
Just as the Tunisian upheaval inspired Egypt’s protestors, Arab journalists cannot ignore what happened in Egypt, the most populous Arab country. Although much of the region’s news media live under the thumb of the government, political parties, religious groups, or others who think they own the truth, Egypt has shown that it does not always have to be thus.
Online news operations have sprouted, angering and frustrating authorities in places like Kuwait and Jordan. Young Arab journalists are showing new daring in their reporting, and are coordinating across the region.
Arab journalists face great challenges even beyond government bullying: low pay, low respect, and editors too timid to make changes. As Egypt’s upheaval was evolving, Hisham Kassem, Al Masry al Youm’s first editor, likened the state-run media’s performance to a “crash-landing.” Speaking from Cairo, he said honest news coverage was gathering steam, but was not yet surging because editors didn’t know what lay ahead.
But the morning after Mubarak resigned, Al Ahram editors saw the future and rose to embrace it. They greeted readers with a stunning, bright red headline flared across its front page: THE PEOPLE OVERTHROW THE REGIME.
After the policemen had sodomized the bus driver with a broomstick, and after one of the officers had sent a cell-phone video of the attack to other bus drivers in downtown Cairo to make clear that the cops could do as they pleased, and after someone had given the video to Wael Abbas, who posted it on his blog, something unusual happened — at least, something unusual for Egypt.
The video went viral on the Internet. Two officers were charged, convicted, and ultimately given three-year prison terms.
It was an extraordinary moment, this sudden burst of justice back in 2006. Few have dared to point their fingers at police wrongdoing in Egypt. And it’s even rarer that the culprits have been punished.
The tumult that has rocked Egypt this winter was clearly sparked by the Tunisian revolution. But the Egyptian uprising didn’t begin on Jan. 25. It was rooted in the waves of workers’ strikes and protests; the explosion of the Internet as a rallying megaphone for dissent about government abuse, corruption, and a vampire economy where a few flourish while many struggle; and a growing willingness by reporters, writers, and human-rights groups to tell the truth in the face of great risks.
The roots could be seen by anyone who has paid attention to the upheavals that have marked Egyptian society these last few years. But they were dismissed up until now as inconsequential and insufficient.
Just as the post above says, this is a great change in Tunisia and maybe the first ever that passed through the hands of the Internet.
Follow the blog below:
The power of the press is the greatest when it touches a truth that others will not accept and the truth touches all.
I am moved by this column from Hani Shukrallah in al Ahram online:
We are to join in a chorus of condemnation. Jointly, Muslims and Christians, government and opposition, Church and Mosque, clerics and laypeople – all of us are going to stand up and with a single voice declare unequivocal denunciation of al-Qaeda, Islamist militants, and Muslim fanatics of every shade, hue and color; some of us will even go the extra mile to denounce salafi Islam, Islamic fundamentalism as a whole, and the Wahabi Islam which, presumably, is a Saudi import wholly alien to our Egyptian national culture.
And once again we’re going to declare the eternal unity of “the twin elements of the nation”, and hearken back the Revolution of 1919, with its hoisted banner showing the crescent embracing the cross, and giving symbolic expression to that unbreakable bond.
Much of it will be sheer hypocrisy; a great deal of it will be variously nuanced so as keep, just below the surface, the heaps of narrow-minded prejudice, flagrant double standard and, indeed, bigotry that holds in its grip so many of the participants in the condemnations.
All of it will be to no avail. We’ve been here before; we’ve done exactly that, yet the massacres continue, each more horrible than the one before it, and the bigotry and intolerance spread deeper and wider into every nook and cranny of our society. It is not easy to empty Egypt of its Christians; they’ve been here for as long as there has been Christianity in the world. Close to a millennium and half of Muslim rule did not eradicate the nation’s Christian community, rather it maintained it sufficiently strong and sufficiently vigorous so as to play a crucial role in shaping the national, political and cultural identity of modern Egypt.
Yet now, two centuries after the birth of the modern Egyptian nation state, and as we embark on the second decade of the 21stcentury, the previously unheard of seems no longer beyond imagining: a Christian-free Egypt, one where the cross will have slipped out of the crescent’s embrace, and off the flag symbolizing our modern national identity. I hope that if and when that day comes I will have been long dead, but dead or alive, this will be an Egypt which I do not recognize and to which I have no desire to belong.
I am no Zola, but I too can accuse. And it’s not the blood thirsty criminals of al-Qaeda or whatever other gang of hoodlums involved in the horror of Alexandria that I am concerned with.
I accuse a government that seems to think that by outbidding the Islamists it will also outflank them.
I accuse the host of MPs and government officials who cannot help but take their own personal bigotries along to the parliament, or to the multitude of government bodies, national and local, from which they exercise unchecked, brutal yet at the same time hopelessly inept authority.
I accuse those state bodies who believe that by bolstering the Salafi trend they are undermining the Muslim Brotherhood, and who like to occasionally play to bigoted anti-Coptic sentiments, presumably as an excellent distraction from other more serious issues of government.
But most of all, I accuse the millions of supposedly moderate Muslims among us; those who’ve been growing more and more prejudiced, inclusive and narrow minded with every passing year.
I accuse those among us who would rise up in fury over a decision to halt construction of a Muslim Center near ground zero in New York, but applaud the Egyptian police when they halt the construction of a staircase in a Coptic church in the Omranya district of Greater Cairo.
I’ve been around, and I have heard you speak, in your offices, in your clubs, at your dinner parties: “The Copts must be taught a lesson,” “the Copts are growing more arrogant,” “the Copts are holding secret conversions of Muslims”, and in the same breath, “the Copts are preventing Christian women from converting to Islam, kidnapping them, and locking them up in monasteries.”
I accuse you all, because in your bigoted blindness you cannot even see the violence to logic and sheer common sense that you commit; that you dare accuse the whole world of using a double standard against us, and are, at the same time, wholly incapable of showing a minimum awareness of your own blatant double standard.
And finally, I accuse the liberal intellectuals, both Muslim and Christian who, whether complicit, afraid, or simply unwilling to do or say anything that may displease “the masses”, have stood aside, finding it sufficient to join in one futile chorus of denunciation following another, even as the massacres spread wider, and grow more horrifying.
A few years ago I wrote in the Arabic daily Al-Hayat, commenting on a columnist in one of the Egyptian papers. The columnist, whose name I’ve since forgotten, wrote lauding the patriotism of an Egyptian Copt who had himself written saying that he would rather be killed at the hands of his Muslim brethren than seek American intervention to save him.
Addressing myself to the patriotic Copt, I simply asked him the question: where does his willingness for self-sacrifice for the sake of the nation stop. Giving his own life may be quite a noble, even laudable endeavor, but is he also willing to give up the lives of his children, wife, mother? How many Egyptian Christians, I asked him, are you willing to sacrifice before you call upon outside intervention, a million, two, three, all of them?
Our options, I said then and continue to say today are not so impoverished and lacking in imagination and resolve that we are obliged to choose between having Egyptian Copts killed, individually or en masse, or run to Uncle Sam. Is it really so difficult to conceive of ourselves as rational human beings with a minimum of backbone so as to act to determine our fate, the fate of our nation?
That, indeed, is the only option we have before us, and we better grasp it, before it’s too late.”
Here is a message from the Arab Press Network.
|International Partnership For Yemen Reports On Critical Press Freedom Situation|
A coalition of international press freedom and human rights organisations, including WAN-IFRA, have called on the government of Yemen “to end the practice of extrajudicial trials for journalists” following a hearing for Saba news agency reporter Abdul Ilah Hayder Shae, who is being held in military detention for his work covering Al-Qaeda.
Representatives from the International Partnership for Yemen, who attended Mr Shae’s latest hearing before the Specialised Criminal Court on 9 November during a week-long mission to Yemen, called on President Ali Abdullah Saleh “to immediately release Abdul Ilah Hayder Shae and all other journalists being held in detention for carrying out their profession.” Mr Shae has denounced the extrajudicial court hearing his case as unconstitutional.
Mr Shae’s case is the latest example of the Yemeni authorities’ willingness to silence journalists and stifle press freedom in the country. The mission has also warned that international concerns over Yemen’s troubled security situation, and the subsequent increased security measures employed by the government, do not justify the repression of press freedom and other fundamental human rights.
The International Partnership for Yemen, a coalition including ARTICLE 19, International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), International Media Support (IMS), and The World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers (WAN-IFRA), was in Yemen last week to assess the challenges facing media in the country.
The delegation, which met with journalists, editors and publishers, syndicate representatives, human rights lawyers, local non-governmental organisations, media experts, members of parliament, diplomatic representations and government authorities, will release a report detailing the major challenges facing the media in the country. Recommendations on how to strengthen the media sector and ensure its long-term development will be put forward to both the Yemeni government and the international community.
The government has proposed a new Press and Publications Law that has raised serious concerns from journalists, legal professionals and non-governmental organisations due to the punitive measures it contains. Despite calls for amendments, as well as the submission of two alternative drafts by media groups and civil society organisations, it appears that the government is seeking the legal framework to legitimise its continued clampdown on press freedom.
“There is an urgent need for the government to comply with its international obligations on respecting the right to freedom of expression in Yemen,” said Cynthia Cárdenas, Legal Advisor for ARTICLE 19. “The current provisions allowing the government to punish media professionals have provoked self-censorship as a common practice and this is directly affecting the quality and quantity of information provided to the public.”
The coalition noted that self-censorship is rife amongst the official press, opposition and independent media. Journalists rarely report on the issues that are shaping both Yemen’s internal development and its international image – Al-Qaeda, the Southern Movement, the conflict with Houthi rebels in the north, corruption, the rule of President Saleh himself, and the role of tribalism, which affects all aspects of Yemeni society.
This situation is further weakened by the overall lack of media development in Yemen. Serious deficiencies in professional standards and media ethics have led to partisan reporting and editorial irresponsibility. “Free and independent journalism is the vehicle for Yemeni stability and development,” said Monir Zaarour, IFJ Middle East and Arab World Coordinator. “There is an urgent need to create the necessary environment for professional and ethical reporting; improved working conditions for journalists and access to professional training are the first steps.”
The absence of a strong independent press has created a vacuum that has been filled by official government, opposition, and poor-quality titles. The few quality independent publications face strict licensing regulations, a limited number of printing presses and distribution networks, and a politicised advertising market. One of the few titles to have successfully challenged this reality on a national scale, Al Ayyam, has remained closed since May 2009 following an open confrontation with the government.
“The independent press in Yemen needs strengthening from every perspective,” said Mohamed Messaoudi, WAN-IFRA delegate and Co-founder of Algerian daily El Watan. “The seeds of an active and engaged independent press are very much present, but the political and economic conditions required are far from being realised.”
Antti Kuusi, IMS Country Coordinator for Yemen, said: “The media in Yemen is currently undergoing a period of great change and the international community should urgently assist the country in creating a free and diversified media.”
For more information, contact:
ARTICLE 19 Legal Advisor, Cynthia Cárdenas: firstname.lastname@example.org
IFJ Middle East and North Africa Coordinator, Monir Zaarour: email@example.com
IMS Country Coordinator for Yemen, Antti Kuusi: firstname.lastname@example.org
WAN-IFRA Press Freedom Missions Coordinator, Rodrigo Bonilla: email@example.com
For more about the coalition partners, go to:
Here’s a testament to the desire to use new media tools and the ability to adjust to new technology in Egypt. It’s from a blog on crowdsourcing:
The author-expert writes:
A fifth map on the Egyptian elections is the Abu Balash map, a voluntary Initiative of a group of Egyptian bloggers.
Now, I have to say: of course, this sound a bit ridiculous, 5 interactive maps to monitor the same event. I started laughing when I heard about it the first time. But lets’ be honest: THIS IS A GREAT THING!!!
In a country like Egypt, where election monitoring is not exactly the most common action taken, and where lots of activists and young people use Facebook, Twitter and Internet in general, the fact that there are many platforms is an awesome achievment!! Egyptians will not have one, but 5 different means to report, and in this way the government is not only going to deal with the U-Shahid project but they have to deal with 5 platforms that will challenge their propaganda and their media control.
Get the full explanation here:
I am struck by Issandr’s column in al Masry al Youm today. He writes:
“What is one to make of the first round of elections that took place on Sunday?
“One could note, as every civil society monitor and every human rights group has, that fraud was widespread, from candidate registration to polling day itself, and that vote-buying has become so widespread that it has created a secondary market for vote-bundlers.
One could repeat the complaints of candidates–notably those from the Muslim Brotherhood–that security forces prevented campaigning, arrested hundreds of supporters, and generally obstructed the electoral process.
One could highlight the dismal performance of the High Elections Commission, which Hafez Abou Saeda, the president of the Egyptian Organization for Human Rights, recently called “the main threat to the electoral process.”
One could sift through the preliminary results and noticed that no Muslim Brother got through the first round, and that the secular opposition does not seem to have gained (as some had predicted) from the Islamists’ loss.
One could point out, if the trends of the first round are extrapolated to the second round, that the ruling National Democratic Party (NDP) will probably find itself with a much larger majority in the next parliament–perhaps upwards of 90 percent, although this super-majority will continue to be one of opportunists rather than apparatchiks, since the party remains unable to impose discipline among its members.
One could wonder why it is that, even as voter interest in the elections appears to plummet, they are becoming more competitive, with businessman candidates spending millions to secure a seat and the access and parliamentary immunity it buys.
All of this is interesting, for sure, but it’s worth taking a step back from electoral processes and outcomes, and the political fate of individuals and parties, to the larger meaning of the elections and what they say about the kind of country that Egypt has become.
After 1952, Egypt ruled by a top-down, military regime with a command structure centered around a charismatic president and senior army officers with a shared esprit de corp. The Free Officers’ regime was corporatist, ideologically driven, and moved by desire for rapid modernization and a prominent, independent role for Egypt on the international scene.
Gradually, the regime became more institutionalized and began to change its priorities. The presidency, while remaining strong, became an ultimate arbiter of disputes within the regime rather than the source of the driving vision of the country. Egypt’s non-alliance was traded first for a balancing game between the two Cold War superpowers, and finally for a strong client relationship with the United States. The single-party state gave way to a superficially more pluralistic political landscape, but one that remained dominated by a party representing access to the state, while important decisions remained in the hands of the presidency. On a day-to-day basis, the mid-level management of the security apparatus became the real ruler of the country, arbitrating between citizens and state as well as the politicians. The army, once omnipresent in politics, retreated to the barracks but remained–mostly discreetly and from a distance–important in political and economic life.
Over time–the very long time of President Hosni Mubarak’s rule–this arrangement engendered its own logic. It settled into standard operating procedures, bureaucratic mechanisms and red lines that occasionally shifted. Unwritten rules of the game were largely understood, and even the opposition mostly adhered to them. The system reached a cruising speed and became more secure in the way it operated; it was self-perpetuating, particularly in the absence of new leadership that could create a genuine shift in vision. A combination of what I like to call “-crats”–a suffix that comes from the Greek word for ruler–ran the state’s daily affairs.
The autocrats–the security apparatus, from the armed forces to the Ministry of Interior–are the real decision-makers. They rule, but do not govern. Their role is not to devise policy but to ensure the status-quo is perpetuated, that the system in which they hold the most privileged position endures. Originally they had come to power by overthrowing the aristocrats that backed the monarchy, but they are not imaginative men. Their mission is to perpetuate the present, not prepare for the future.
In order to run a country, they needed managers. So they created a class of bureaucrats, the six million civil servants who enforce the vast edifice of rules that so often perplex citizens. The bureaucrats are not only, for most part, a loyal group, but they are also one whose capacity to generate inertia and opposition to change can be formidable. The bureaucrats process, they have no other aim, and hate novelty.
But a country cannot just stand still, it must also adapt. For this there are the technocrats, who govern but do not rule. They are the clever ministers who try to implement often necessary reforms, but always against the reluctance of the autocrats. If they have been on the ascendant lately, it’s only because economic conditions made their knowledge imperative. Their problem is that, not being politicians with popular support, the technocrats are never held accountable to anyone but the autocrats and their diktats.
Yet what the recent elections (and the previous ones in the last decade) have shown is the rise of a another class of -crats. The plutocrats have their fingers in every pie, they woo all sides, keep the machine turning with their enterprise and lust for profit. The plutocrats were the dominant group among the candidates. They belong overwhelmingly to the NDP, that privileged conduit to the state, which provides cheap land, solves bureaucratic hurdles and awards lucrative contracts. They are the much-derided “businessmen” that confound party leadership into running multiple official candidates for the same seats and injecting races with millions of pounds.
The risk with this state of affairs is that politics becomes entirely a wealth-creation mechanism. With these elections, the autocrats sent a message that whatever opening took place in 2005 is now closed. They will now no longer tolerate genuine political alternatives, particularly ahead of a still uncertain presidential transition. But they also sent a secondary message: that, as long as they operate within the rules, the plutocrats are invited to help themselves to a free-for-all in which court decisions will be routinely ignored, fraud tolerated and money will always trump the rule of law.
This arrangement between autocrats, technocrats and plutocrats is more than a clampdown on democrats and theocrats. It empties the very notions of politics and citizenship of any meaning.”
Here’s a brave column by Salama A Salama from al Ahram weekly about the freedom of the press in Egypt. It concludes:
“Abroad, there are laws and a history of democracy and human rights that keeps those with power — political and financial — in check. Here, we don’t have that.
What happened to Eissa was meant as a lesson for all newspapers and independent media. It was meant to show them who’s boss.”
Here is a summary from the Arab organization and website Menassat.
In its 2009 roundup, “Wars and disputed elections: the most dangerous stories for journalists”, Reporters Without Borders (RSF) records a 26 percent increase in killed journalists compared to 2008 – up to 76 from 60. It cites the election-related massacre of 31 journalists in the Philippines and the vicious sweep of Iranian journalists and bloggers in arrests and convictions in the aftermath of disputed elections as the most “appalling” events of 2009.
The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) records at least 70 journalists killed in 2009 – the highest annual number ever recorded by CPJ – as a result of long-term violent trends. “Most of the victims were local reporters covering news in their own communities. The perpetrators assumed, based on precedent, that they would never be punished. Whether the killings are in Iraq or the Philippines, in Russia or Mexico, changing this assumption is the key to reducing the death toll.” In the Philippines, the government permitted politically motivated violence against journalists to go unpunished and it “became a part of the culture” says CPJ.
Many of the deadliest countries for press freedom have a history of impunity, says CPJ. Three journalists were killed in Russia, including Abdulmalik Akhmedilov, a Dagestani editor who severely criticised government officials for silencing religious and political dissent. In Sri Lanka, editor Lasantha Wickrematunge, known for his critical reporting of the government, was beaten to death with iron bars and wooden poles.
The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) arrived at a total of 137 journalists and media workers killed in 2009 – 113 of them targeted. The IFJ list is coordinated with the International News Safety Institute (INSI) and includes 24 accidental deaths, as compared to 109 killings in 2008. It also includes all media staff who die on the job. The year ended with a “rush of media killings,” says IFJ; a gruesome tally that should prompt governments to do more to protect journalists.
Iranian authorities were overwhelmed by opposition to the June elections and responded in a brutal fashion with arrests of journalists. “This wave of violence bodes ill for 2010, when crucial elections are scheduled in Côte d’Ivoire, Sri Lanka, Burma, Iraq and the Palestinian Territories,” said RSF. Election-related violence against journalists was also seen in Tunisia and Honduras, reports Canadian Journalists for Free Expression (CJFE) in its year-end review.
For the first time, RSF took a tally of journalists forced into exile in 2009 with a total of about 160. Numbers were particularly dramatic in Iran and Somalia where more than 50 journalists fled each country, as well as in Sri Lanka with the departure of 29. Repressive regimes understand that by “pushing journalists into exile” they can reduce pluralistic views and criticism of government policies, says RSF.
The National Union of Somali Journalists’ (NUSOJ) details a harrowing year in its year-end report, “War on Journalism in Somalia: Death, Displacement and Desolation.” Seven out of the nine journalists killed in 2009 were murdered in Mogadishu. The report adds that many of the killers are known, but a culture of impunity with no law and order has exacerbated the crisis against the media.
The report documents 9 media deaths, 12 wounded journalists, arrests of 15 media workers, raids on media outlets and death threats forcing numerous journalists to flee the country. Independent, credible journalists must choose between a life in exile or risking death in order to do their job.
According to RSF, at least 167 journalists were in prison worldwide at the end of 2009. Eritrea has the highest number of journalists behind bars in Africa, with 32 imprisoned. At least one journalist is assaulted or arrested every day in the Middle East. Physical assaults and threats have gone up by a third worldwide. The Americas had the highest number of assaults and threats. In Asia, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Nepal also recorded high numbers of violations. Kidnappings have increased, especially in Afghanistan, Somalia and Mexico. In addition, censorship rose with close to 570 cases of newspapers, radio or TV stations shut down worldwide.
Dissent is being increasingly expressed online and the Internet has become a powerful tool for democracy campaigns in several countries, reports RSF. As a result, blocking websites and online surveillance is on the rise, with China, Iran, Tunisia, Thailand, Saudi Arabia, Vietnam and Uzbekistan named some of the worst offenders. RSF reports more than 100 bloggers and cyber-dissidents imprisoned worldwide for posting their opinions online. Two Azerbaijani bloggers were thrown into jail for making a video mocking the political elite. The number of countries affected by online censorship has doubled, says RSF.
The Arab Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI) released a year-end regional update, documenting repression of Internet freedom in 20 Arab countries. The report, “One Social Network, With a Rebellious Message” details how governments block and censor the Internet, and curb dissent by kidnapping, arresting and torturing online critics. But the report also identifies the Internet as an unstoppable tool to combat repression. It examines how blogs, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube are used to fight for free expression and expose corruption in the Arab world.
In the Arab region, there are 58 million Internet users, 150,000 active blogs and 12 million Facebook users, according to ANHRI. Egypt has 15 million Internet users and is also the most repressive of Internet activists. Saudi Arabia and Tunisia rank as the most oppressive Internet monitors.
Elsewhere in the world, ARTICLE 19’s year-end report says freedom of expression is in “retreat” in Europe. In Italy, 10 journalists are under police protection for reporting on the mafia. Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi publicly stated that he would “strangle” anyone reporting on the mafia because it made Italy look bad. In Spain, journalists were attacked by Basque militants. In Finland, a journalist was ordered by police to stop covering a demonstration, violently removed from the protest and detained for 18 hours. The report includes examples of the chilling effect of criminal defamation laws on free expression, the impact of anti-terrorism laws on free speech, and the violation of journalists’ rights to protect their sources.
“The internet in the Arab world has a snowball effect; now that the snowball is rolling, it can no longer be stopped. Getting bigger and stronger, it is bound to crush down all obstacles.
In addition, to the stress caused by the Arab bloggers, a new forum was opened for Aran activists; Facebook. Arab activists have been using Facebook in the utmost creative way to support the democracy movement in the region, a region that has one of the highest rates of repression in the world. Unlike other regions where oppressive countries (like China, Iran and Burma) represent the exception, oppression can be found everywhere in the Arab world.
The number of Arab internet users interested in political affairs does not exceed a few thousands, mainly represented by internet activists and bloggers, out of 58 million internet users in the Arab world. As few as they are, they have succeeded in shedding some light on the corruption and repression of the Arab governments and dictatorships.”
This is from the Arabic Network for Human Rights Information – released today. Read the whole report here: (Arabic and English)
Cairo – Heat. Endless Heat. It hangs in the trees. It hangs on the shoulders of the man carrying a heavy pack on his back. It hangs on the dogs sleeping.
Heat and dust that does not move, that seems glued in place and that is waiting for the wind to carry it away. Heat that does not go away. Heat that does not belong here and now. Heat that exhausts the exhausted.
No breeze here in Giza. No breeze here downtown. Nothing stirs in Bulak and Zamalek and on and on.
The sun sets and the Nile’s admirers gather, seeking haven.
Crunched together on the bridges, standing in the few dark places along the Corniche, stetched out on the tired grass, sprawled alone on benches, hunched over in bunches, tensely waiting on benches, couples talking, staring, wondering, waiting, hoping, thinking, sleeping, smiling, crying, they are waiting for the wind that they hope will flow through them. The wind that they think will refresh and give them a new spirit.
Heat. No relief
Here is a column by Alaa al Aswany written for the Los Angeles Times. A reminder of the power of words.
The justifications of the torturer
By Alaa Al-Aswany
May 31, 2009
Writing From Cairo —
Some years ago, I was invited to a relative’s wedding, and at the wedding, I sat next to one of the bridegroom’s relatives. He introduced himself to me by saying: “My name is such-and-such, police officer.”
The man was in his 40s, very elegant, polite and quiet. I noticed a prayer mark on his forehead. We exchanged the usual pleasantries, and I asked him, “In which department do you work?”
He hesitated for a second, then he replied: “State Security.”
We both kept silent, and he turned his face away from me and started to watch the other guests. My mind was torn between two conflicting options: Should I resume the previous polite conversation, or should I express my opinion candidly on the State Security Investigations department? In the end, I couldn’t help but challenge him, and I will reconstruct the conversation that followed to the best of my ability:
“Excuse me. You are religious, it seems,” I said.
“Don’t you see any contradiction between being religious and working in State Security?”
“Where would the contradiction arise?”
“People detained by State Security are beaten, tortured and raped, though all religions prohibit such practices.”
He started to get emotional and said: “First, those who are beaten deserve to be beaten. Second, if you study your religion thoroughly, you will find that what we do in the State Security department is fully compatible with Islamic teachings.”
“But Islam is a religion that safeguards human dignity.”
“That’s a generalization. I have read Islamic jurisprudence, and I am well aware of its provisions.”
“There’s nothing in Islamic jurisprudence that makes it legitimate to torture people.”
“Listen to me until I finish, please. Islam has nothing to do with democracy or elections. Obedience to a Muslim ruler is a duty for his subjects, even if he has usurped power, is corrupt or unjust. Do you know how Islam punishes those who rebel against their rulers?”
I kept silent.
He continued enthusiastically: “They face the haraba punishment, which is amputation of the left hand and the right foot. All those we detain at State Security have rebelled against the ruler, and by Islamic law we should cut off their limbs, but we do not do this. What we do is much less than the Islamic punishment.”
Our discussion went on for a long time. I told him that Islam was revealed essentially to defend truth, justice and freedom. I said that the haraba punishment was applicable only to armed groups that kill innocent people, steal their money or rape them. It should by no means be applied to Egyptian political dissidents.
He remained insistent on his opinion and ended the discussion by saying: “This is my understanding of Islam. I am convinced of it, and I will not change it. I will be responsible for it before God.”
After I left the wedding, I asked myself how this educated and intelligent officer could be convinced of such an erroneous interpretation of Islam. How did he extract from Islam such perverted ideas? How could he imagine for one moment that God approves of us torturing people? These questions remained without answers until, some months later, I read a paper titled “The Psychology of the Executioner.”
In it, the researcher argued that torturers can be divided into two groups. The first group are psychopaths, who behave aggressively without any moral restraints. The second group — and these are the majority — is made up of ordinary men who are psychologically normal and who, once they leave work, are upright and lovable, with good morals.
But to be able to torture people, two conditions are indispensable: submission and justification. Submission means the police officer carries out the torture in response to orders from his superior and convinces himself that he is compelled to obey. Justification comes about when the officer convinces himself that torture is ethically and religiously legitimate, usually because he believes his victims to be agents of the enemy or enemies of the nation, infidels or criminals. In his mind, that justifies torturing them to protect society and the country. Without this justification, the police officer would not be able to continue torturing his victims because, at some point, he would be unable to cope with his pangs of conscience.
I remembered this when I heard about the arrest in April of two university students, Omnia Taha and Sarah Mohammed Rezq. Campus security at Kafr El Sheikh University in the Nile Delta arrested the two young women and handed them over to State Security because they had incited their colleagues to go on strike. The prosecution accused them of plotting to overthrow the government and ordered that they be remanded in custody for 15 days for questioning. But honestly, how could two women less than 20 years old try to overthrow President Hosni Mubarak’s regime simply by talking to their colleagues?
Moreover, calling for a strike is not in itself a crime because Egypt has signed dozens of international conventions recognizing the right to strike as one of the basic rights of Egyptians. But what is really saddening is that I learned from colleagues of the two girls that at State Security they were violently beaten and tortured and that the man who beat them and ripped off their clothes was a senior officer. It’s not so terribly surprising — bloggers, leftists and Islamic activists are all arrested and tortured on a routine basis in Egypt, often spending years in prison without being charged — but it’s horrifying nevertheless.
How could a police officer, who was probably a husband and a father, beat with such brutality a student so like his own daughters? How could he face his conscience and look his wife and children in the eye? Didn’t this senior officer feel ashamed of himself as he beat a young woman who could not even defend herself?
As President Obama prepares for his trip to Egypt this week, the Mubarak regime is facing unprecedented waves of social protest because life here has become intolerable for millions of Egyptians, who now have no choice but to take to the streets to proclaim their demand for a life fit for humans. Today, between 40% and 50% of Egyptians live below the poverty line; Egypt has become two different countries — one for the poor and one for the rich.
As for the regime, it is now completely incapable of serious reform, so it pushes the police to confront, repress and torture people, overlooking the simple and important fact that police officers are, first and foremost, Egyptian citizens and that what applies to Egyptians in general applies to them too. Most of them suffer in the same way as other Egyptians.
I often recall the discussion I had with the State Security officer at the wedding. And I reflect that a political system that relies for its survival on repression always fails to see that the apparatus of repression, however mighty it may be, must be operated by individuals who are part of society and whose interests and opinions generally conform with those of the rest of the population. As repression increases, a day will come when those individuals can no longer justify to themselves the crimes they are committing against people. At that point the regime will lose its power to repress and will meet the fate it deserves. I believe that we in Egypt are approaching that day.
Alaa Al-Aswany is the author of the novels “The Yacoubian Building” and “Chicago.”
Here is an Arabic translation:
The pay is miserable. The dangers are great. Dangers from the known and the unknown, dangers from passing the red lines and the lines unseen. The material rewards are seemingly few. And the burdens – the daily burdens are endlessly exhausting, frustrating, suffocating – endlessly.
In all the world, journalists press on against terrible challenges, or challenges that are not so great. Yet challenges that others refuse to face. It’s a tormenting challenge that sometimes overcomes journalists. I was talking recently to an Egyptian journalist in Cairo who is doing incredibly important investigative work, but who was exposing herself and her family to great dangers in getting the story.
This is the problem, I suggested. You need to do your work. You need to be clear and need to give all the facts so that you are credible and you will certainly have an impact. But you need to protect yourself and others, so you can continue to do your work again and again and so those close to you, and those who reply upon you will not suffer. I cannot say that enough.
Yet sometimes the decision is not so clear or simple. Think of all of those journalists who have been silenced.
These are the last words of a Sri Lankan editor who was murdered recently – I cannot recall as profound and moving a statement from a journalist about why some of us struggle on in the name of freedom. He wrote:
“people often ask me why I take such risks and tell me it is a matter of time before I am bumped off. Of course I know that: it is inevitable. But if we do not speak out now, there will be no one left to speak for those who cannot, whether they be ethnic minorities, the disadvantaged or the persecuted.”
And he ended his column, his last one, saying:
“Let there be no doubt that whatever sacrifices we journalists make, they are not made for our own glory or enrichment: they are made for you. Whether you deserve their sacrifice is another matter. As for me, God knows I tried.”
Here is the annual report from the International Federation on Journalists on the dangers and deaths faced by journalists in 2008
أنت مواطن صحفي
on citizen journalism – a guide
On reporting by the Yemen Times – a brave level of reporting
a column by Mona Eltahawy on Gaza
on Iraqi refugees
On bloggers and freedom of speech in Egypt by the New York Times correspondent
On freedom of the press and satellite television from the Committee to Protect Journalists
from the Columbia Journalism Review
Egypt’s bloggers want to be journalists
Sandmonkey was determined to quit his blog. Sniping away at life and politics in Egypt had become too risky, he said, even under the cover of his anonymous online moniker. Too much of a chance the government thugs would hurt him or someone close to him, or smash his computer equipment. He wasn’t alone in his worry. The dozen or so bloggers who had gathered in the offices of a fledgling Cairo newspaper were freaked out by the four-year prison term given to a twenty-two-year-old former law school student for criticizing President Hosni Mubarak and for “religious incitement.” The blogger had called Mubarak “the symbol of tyranny” and said Muslims who attacked a Coptic Christian church had “revealed their true ugly face.” He had blasted Al-Azhar University, a revered center of Islamic learning, as “the other face of the coin of al Qaeda.” Some of the bloggers in the room disagreed with what he had written, but they didn’t expect a prison term. The muscular guy in a black T-shirt sitting beside me said that the authorities had already done all they can do to him, so he wasn’t worried. He said he would keep blogging, writing what he wants, showing up at dissident rallies. I was tempted to ask for specifics about what he had endured, but decided it was best that I didn’t.
I was in Cairo on a Knight fellowship from the International Center for Journalists, on leave from the Chicago Tribune, where I cover labor after years of roaming back and forth to the Middle East. I earned my first Middle Eastern credentials covering the Lebanon war in 1982, and my Arabic is still pretty good. The Washington-based center sends people like me around the world to help independent-minded journalists make a difference in their countries. But shortly after I arrived in Cairo in late February 2007, the two main projects that I had planned to work with were swept aside in a swirl of dead-handed bureaucracy and delayed decisions. No surprise; it’s the Middle East. But with just over four months remaining in my fellowship, I needed to find another way to contribute. It felt like I was back forty years in the Peace Corps in Turkey—things don’t work out, so you move on.
I began calling newspaper friends who suggested people and organizations I might be able to assist, and right away an Egyptian reporter who was struggling to establish an independent news network connected me with the bloggers. I found them at an existential moment. They are testing the limits of their freedom in a time of great intellectual, economic, and political ferment in Egypt. Some Egyptian journalists told me with absolute certainty that change is coming for their news media, and that it can’t be stopped. It is true that small newspapers are bubbling up to challenge the state-run media; satellite TV from the wider Arab world has forced Egyptian TV to get real and copy Al Jazeera’s model; Egyptian journalists are talking to other Arab journalists about what binds them and about strategies for the future; government newspapers, in the face of declining circulation, finally seem to realize that they must compete; and the Internet—as it has in repressive societies everywhere—has opened the world to Egyptians and given them the power to speak out.
“It was here,” he says in the warm growl of a long-time smoker.
Then he flashes the beatific smile that he sometimes turns on after a long discussion about the pains and joys of being a writer, and especially in Egypt where the financial rewards are few, and taboos many.
Here, he says at the corner of Polk and Wood Streets in the heart of the University of Illinois at Chicago campus, his understanding of Americans’ kindness was confirmed on a cold, blustery day over 20 years ago.
He was rushing across campus with a freshly typed master’s thesis, a work summing up one and a half years of graduate study at UIC’s College of Dentistry, when the papers just floated up and away.
“People got out of their cars and stopped and they and everyone else collected the papers,” he recalls. “But I wasn’t surprised,” he adds matter of factly. “I already knew that the American people are kind.”
But his return to Chicago earlier this year, his first since graduation, was more than a nostalgic rendezous with his past. It was in advance of the October publication of the English-language translation of “Chicago,” a novel that Arab readers have grabbed up in even greater numbers than his first record-breaking hit, “The Yacoubian Building.”
So much so, his publishers say it’s one of the best selling books in the Arab world.
“Chicago” is as calming a read as standing in the heart of a thunder storm.
There’s American decadence and racism, the soul-crushing loneliness of being an Egyptian immigrant in this strange outpost of outwardly friendly folks and the backward tug of Saudi-inspired Islamic conservatism on Egyptians here and at home. And there’s one of his favorite themes – his deep disdain for Egypt’s rulers and what he and others consider their disregard for democracy.
One reason for the emotional surge that erupts in almost every chapter is that the book appeared several years ago as a weekly serial in the Egyptian left-of-center al Destour (the Constitution) newspaper.
Though the book is called “Chicago,” the city and its residents largely form the backdrop for what happens to a group of Egyptians studying or working at UIC’s Medical School after the 9/11 tragedy.
A successful Egyptian professor, who disdains fellow Arabs, has his American dream shattered. Another Egyptian-born professor sinks into deep remorse over his decision years ago to forsake his homeland. A deeply religious graduate student has a relationship outside of marriage with an Egyptian student.
Another Egyptian student, who won a government scholarship only because he is a mole for Egyptian Intelligence, pimps his wife to a Chicago-based intelligence official who pulls incredible strings in the U.S. In turn, the agent sets up a young Egyptian leftist for arrest by U.S. anti-terrorism police.
Before his arrest, the student wrongly suspects his newly found Jewish girlfriend of setting him up.
Al Aswany, who writes a newspaper column in Cairo and belongs to Kefaya, (Enough) <cq> a struggling opposition party, disowns the notion that the novel is overly negative, or is a sociological examination of Egyptians at home and aboard.
“Literature is not a tourist guide,” he says. “I’ve been criticized for giving a negative image of Egypt. But I’m not a novelist working for the Ministry of Tourism. I don’t write novels to convince people to come to Sharm al Sheikh.”
What inspires him, he says, is human suffering.
As for the ambient sex in his writings, sex, he explains, is a “human language” that needs to told and explored.
The lure of al Aswany’s writing for Arab readers, suggests Farouk Mustafa, <cq> who translated “Chicago,” is that “he enlarges things in such a way as to bring them closer to the reader.” Al Aswany “has created a new class of novel readers,” says Mustafa, a professor of Arabic at the University of Chicago, who goes by the pen name Farouk Abdel Wahab.
As if to refute complaints that his novels revolve around trite formulas, al Aswany says he only creates his characters. After that they lead their own lives on his computer screen, and, he adds, often make the wrong decisions.
For example, he disapproves of the way the young Egyptian radical student in “Chicago” dumped his Jewish girl-friend. “I wouldn’t have done that,” he says with a frown.
Al Aswany’s own life, including his Chicago days, reads like one of his stories.
He arrived here, a relatively poor young Egyptian lured by the good reputation of the city and dental school. It was supposed to be a brief stay, but with dental faculty’s help he became a master’s degree student. When his money ran out, they helped him find a campus job, too.
Dr. A.E. Zaki, a professor emeritus at the dental school, recalls al Aswany’s “deep love of literature.” But he also was struck by al Aswany’s appetite for experiencing Chicago. “He lived it to the fullest,” he says.
Armed with the Reader’s weekly list of events, but little spending money, al Aswany roamed widely and frugally. He took in a Puerto Rican liberation movement meeting. He attended a church where, to his surprise, the parishoners were gay. He visited experimental theaters. He made friends with blacks, Jews, and a priest, who regularly invited him to services.
When he left for Egypt, he vowed to one day write a novel about Chicago.
He ached to be a writer, but heeded his father’s advice that since writers starve in Egypt he needed a steady paying job. His father, Abbas al Aswany, was a famous who earned a living as a lawyer.
He opened a dental office in Cairo, started writing on the side, and after years of frustration, his novel “the Yacoubian Building, published in 2002, exploded across the Arab world. It was a tale of political corruption, sexual abuse, religious fanaticism, homosexuality and the despair of the poor.
Just as that novel became a movie and runaway hit, there are plans to turn “Chicago” into a movie.
Translated into 20 languages, “The Yacoubian Building” has sold over 1 million copies, a half of that number in Arabic, according to Mark Linz, head of publications for American University in Cairo, which published “The Yacoubian Building” in English.
“Imagine, after 20 years you come back to this city, and you are one of the best selling authors in the Arab world,” he says, poised in front of the UIC dormitory where he discovered a new life so many years ago.
The conflict in Darfur is a news story that has been widely and emotively covered by western media but has attracted relatively little coverage within the Arab media.
The Listening Post’s Salah Khadr finds out why.
There are many similarities between the violence in Iraq and Darfur from the estimate of the number of civilians killed to paramilitaries operating closely linked to the government forces, to victims who are targeted for membership of an ethnic group.
However international media coverage generally reports one as a civil war or cycle of insurgency and the other as a genocide.
More than 200,000 people have died in the conflict in Darfur, with millions more turned into refugees and the situation becoming a picture of “hell on earth” according to the UN.
Sudan’s population is 40 per cent Arab and Arabs are at the heart of the conflict, but for many in the Arab world, the humanitarian catastrophe may as well not exist.
The reason being the Arab media have largely ignored it.
Lawrence Pintak, a journalist and Arab media expert, says the problem with Darfur when it comes to the Arab media is that it does not fit the template of Arabs being the victims and other people the aggressors.
“Arabs here are good guys and bad guys,” he says.
‘State of denial’
“I think we are in a state of denial,” Jehad Khazen, a former editor of the al-Hayat newspaper, says.
“People say ‘the Arabs or Muslims – cannot do this – it did not happen’ – but they did do this and it did happen – and they have to reconcile themselves to the fact.”
|Find out more about the programme|
Just because the Arab media does not cover a lot of what happens in the Darfur crisis does not mean that Arab public opinion is not interested says Nadim Hasbani, an Arab media analyst from the International Crisis Group.
“A Zogby poll around March or April in 2007 showed there is a real eagerness in Arab public opinion to read more and learn more about what is happening in Darfur. But this is not reflected in the Arab media.”
It could be argued that geography plays a role in the limited coverage given the conflict is in Africa, not the Middle East.
But whilst Darfur largely remains a non-event on the Arab media scene, European and North American media travel from greater distances to cover this story.
“There is always going to be some sort of reluctance to demonise their own, the Arabs as they will see themselves,” Opheera McDoom, Reuters correspondent in Darfur, says.
“But I think while there has been coverage in the Arab media, there has been a reluctance in the Arab media to go to Darfur and check things out for themselves.
“I see a lot more western media going to Darfur and spending weeks in Darfur than I do Arab media and that is where you see the difference. You will get a much more in-depth coverage and a lot more interesting coverage if you actually go to Darfur, and that is where the Arab media has fallen down.”
However, some Arab media analysts say that the implied rationale from the American media in particular is that the story in Darfur is Arabs killing Africans because they do not know anything other than violence.
“That’s what the audience is left to conclude,” says Mahmood Mahdani of Columbia University.
“So that’s of course not acceptable if you are part of the Arab media. You can immediately sense that you are being caricatured and demonised at the same time.”
It is questionable, however, if such suspicions over the motivation and vigour of US media coverage account for the strategy of limited coverage from many Arab media outlets.
|Arab media’s coverage of Darfur is often more analysis than reporting [EPA]|
“What is most striking to me is that the media coverage has a single focus and that’s a focus on atrocities, on atrocity stories, there’s no attempt to place them in context,” Mahdani says.
“There’s no attempt to explain, to locate it historically, to show that there’s any change happening.
“I think it is about linking Darfur with the larger war on terror by portraying and framing the perpetrators of violence in Darfur as Arabs.”
The 22 Arab states all have a distinctive media output and often it is not so much a question of following an agenda but deciding which agenda to follow.
“It is not one agenda – every Arab government has a different agenda from the other – Egypt is more interested in Darfur as Sudan is next door and doesn’t want a spill over,” Khazen says.
“But a country a like the UAE or Oman – find they are not directly involved and they can’t influence events – so you find that the coverage is much more limited there.”
Covering Darfur is also hindered by the government of Sudan who have imposed strict access criteria and will often not issue visas or take journalists to government-controlled areas.
“They [the government] know that if more information comes out there will be added pressure on the Sudanese government,” Hasbani says.
“It’s not easy to cover Darfur – its not easy for Western Journalists and its not easy for Arab journalists,” Lawrence Pintak says.
“I talked to an Al Jazeera correspondent who was based in Khartoum a while back – and he said to go and cover Darfur – you have to go to Khartoum – then to Nairobi – to West Africa up to Cameroon, across from Cameroon to Chad and then in through the back door to the refugee camps.
“If you don’t do that then you are on a guided tour and you may as well go to Disneyland.”
The result of these restrictions has been a move toward more analytical coverage and away from hard reporting.
“What’s happened in Arab media is that we have so much coverage of the political issues related to Darfur like – what is the UK, France, US, UN reaction to Darfur – but what we really need actually is not the political coverage, but the coverage from the ground,” Hasbani says.
“What are the facts, what are the stories, where are the images of the refugees of the people being killed? These are images we don’t have but are the images we need – its not about the political process.”
A Listening Post special on the media coverage of Darfur can be seen on Al Jazeera from Friday July 12 at the following times GMT:
Blog for a Cause!: The Global Voices Guide of Blog Advocacy explains how activists can use blogs as part of campaigns against injustice around the world. Blogging can help activists in several ways. It is a quick and inexpensive way to create a presence on the Internet, to disseminate information about a cause, and to organize actions to lobby decision-makers.
And here is the Arabic version:
Rights groups demand investigation into alleged assault against journalists
By Compiled by Daily New Egypt
First Published: June 27, 2008
The Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI), the Arab Council for the Support of a Fair Trial and the Hisham Mubarak Law Center submitted a petition to the deputy minister of interior affairs on June 21, calling for an inquest into Murad’s alleged torture by police officers, according to a press release by ANHRI.
Three police officers in Beheira physically and verbally abused Murad, said the statement, and confiscated his notes and mobile phone memory card.
He was then arrested on charges of attacking police officers and inciting peasants against the security forces, said the ANHRI.
The incident reportedly follows Murad’s exposure of an influence-peddling case involving a local trader and his two sons who are police officers.
In his investigation, Murad has interviewed peasants in Ezbat Moharram in Beheira and shot pictures of police officers beating peasants in order to force them to sign lease contracts with a landlord, the rights group said.
The officers were allegedly doing this as a favor to their fellow policeman whose father happens to be the landlord.
from the Committee to Protect Journalism on the Arab news media 2007
In terms of the media, governments have built new strategies to contain the assertive journalists who have emerged over the last decade in countries such as Algeria, Jordan, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, and Yemen. Job dismissals, behind-the-scenes threats, third-party defamation suits, and trumped-up terrorism charges like those brought against al-Khaiwani have replaced the torture, enforced disappearances, and open-ended incarcerations that were the hallmarks of the previous era. Image conscious governments have also become masters of spin, championing cosmetic media reforms designed mainly for public consumption.
بعيدا عن الأنظار، نوع جديد من القمع
بقلم: جويل كمبانيا
في وقت العصر من أحد أيام الاربعاء في حزيران/يونيو الماضي، قام عملاء تابعون لأجهزة الأمن اليمنية بمداهمة منزل المحرر الصحفي الجريء عبد الكريم الخيواني، ثم جروه لمحاكمة أمام محكمة أمن الدولة في العاصمة صنعاء. استجوبت النيابة العامة الخيواني، ثم وجهت له تهمة الانتماء لخلية إرهابية سرية—وهي تهمة يمكن أن يعاقب عليها القانون بالإعدام. وقد سبب هذا الاعتقال صدمة بين الصحفيين اليمنيين، وتساءل بعضهم صراحة ما إذا كان زميلهم المعروف بمقالاته المهيّجة التي يهاجم فيها الحكومة اليمنية وحربها ضد المتمردين في مدينة صعدة الواقعة في الشمال الغربي من البلاد، متورطا بأمر شنيع. وقد أصدرت لجنة حماية الصحفيين حينها تصريحات متحفظة أعربت فيها عن انشغالها، لأنها لم تكن متأكدة من أن هذه التهمة لا أساس لها من الصحة
See the report in Arabic, click link.
(CIHRS/IFEX) – The following is an 18 February 2008 CIHRS press release:
Ailing Arab League Undermines Freedom of Expression
CIHRS strongly condemns the document entitled “Principles regulating Radio
and Satellite TV Transmission and Receiving in the Arab Region”, adopted by
the Council of Arab Information Ministers. CIHRS confirms that the
document, disguised by media professional ethics rhetoric, is primarily
aimed at providing a fake national and ethical cover to limit the freedom
margin exercised by the media outlets in some of the Arab countries. This
margin of freedom existed either because of the influence of the global
communications and information revolution or internal and external
pressures for democracy.
Ironically, it is the same Arab League that failed to realize one
achievement for the major Arab issues in Palestine, Iraq, Maghreb Sahara,
the occupied Emirates Islands, Lebanon, Southern Sudan and Darfur, that is
being used as a platform for this “unified Arab” attack on freedom of
It is indicative that the said document was developed following an
initiative by the Egyptian government as media freedom in Egypt is
seriously deteriorating. This is best manifested by the jail sentences
awaiting five editors-in-chief of partisan and independent newspapers all
at once. In addition, there are hundreds of cases pending at the courts
against journalists as well as defamation campaigns against the press and
satellite channels where government media professionals participate,
claiming that the media is committing violations of code of ethics and
jeopardizes Egypt’s reputation. This is meant to refer to the exposure of
police violations of citizens’ rights and torture incidents. It is
similarly indicative that Saudi Arabia joins such an initiative with its
hegemony over media outlets, not only within the Kingdom, but also
throughout the Arab region.
Some ask why blog. What does it matter?
Here is a powerful answer from Fouad Farhan, a Saudi who was recently arrested and apparently for his writings on the Internet.
Why Do We Blog?1. Because we believe we have opinions that deserve to be heard, and minds that should be respected.2. Because societies do not progress until they learn to respect opinions of their members. And we would like to see our society progressing.3. Because blogging is our only option. We do not have a free media, and freedom to assemble is not allowed.4. Because we want to discuss our opinions.5. Because we think.6. Because we care.7. Because blogging has had a positive effect on other societies and we want to see the same result in our society.8. Because blogging is a reflection of the life of society members. And we are alive.9. Because blogging is gaining increasing attention from media and governments. We want them to listen to us.10. Because we are not scared.11. Because we reject the cattle mentality.12. Because we welcome diversity of opinions.13. Because the country is for all, and we are part of it.14. Because we want to reach out to everyone.15. Because we refuse to be an “echo”.16. Because we are not any less than bloggers in other societies.17. Because we seek the truth.18. Because our religion encourages us to speak out.19. Because we are sick and tired of the Saudi media hypocrisy.20. Because we are positive.21. Because blogging is a powerful tool that can benefit society.22. Because we are affected and we can affect.23. Because we love our country.24. Because we enjoy dialogue and don’t run away from it.25. Because we are sincere.
For a reminder about what freedom means to the press, read the record of this conference in Beirut in December 2006: http://www.wan-press.org/tueni_award/articles.php?id=663#2
Democracy under siege
Until Arab regimes embody the people they purport to represent they will remain fearful of them, writes Ayman El-Amir*–from Al Ahram
Democracy in the Arab world is in a bind. It is taking one step forward and two steps back. Although the silent majority is growing more active and increasingly restive, its yearning for democratic change has no sense of direction except, perhaps, the Islamist way. It has been tantalised by two examples of democratic and peaceful change, first in Mauritania and more recently in secular Turkey. However, it does not have the institutional power structure to emulate these experiences. For the past decade, conditioned political parties, opposition movements, factory workers and professional unions have staged demonstrations, protests and strikes, clashed with government troops and filed lawsuits in courts, but have been skilfully outmanoeuvred and contained by the regimes in power. Government-licensed political parties have little to no access to genuine power sharing leading to peaceful change.
This is from the International Trade Union Confederation:
There were again small glimmers of hope in the Middle East as some governments took timid steps towards the recognition of trade union rights, but overall workers in the region still have fewer trade union rights than anywhere else in the world.
The government of Bahrain sent mixed messages, issuing a Royal Decree prohibiting dismissals for trade union activities, followed a few weeks later by a ban on strikes in many sectors. There was good news from Oman where decrees were passed allowing workers to form trade unions, engage in collective bargaining and take limited strike action.
Elsewhere trade union rights are still severely restricted or non-existent. In the United Arab Emirates the bill allowing for the formation of trade unions had still not been adopted by the end of the year. In Saudi Arabia a new labour code came into force but trade unions and strikes are still banned. Even where workers do have the right to form trade unions there is little freedom of association as the law imposes a single trade union system, for example in Jordan, Kuwait, Yemen and Syria.
Workers who dared to exercise their trade union rights faced heavy repression, notably in Iran. The leader of the Tehran and Suburbs Company bus drivers’ union, Sherkat-e Vahed, Mansour Osanloo became an emblematic figure in the struggle for the respect of workers’ rights. Protests in January at his continued detention led to the arrest of about 1000 union leaders, members and supporters. They even arrested children, including a 12-year-old girl beaten and thrown into a police van. Many others were injured during police raids on their homes to force them back to work. Mr. Osanloo himself was held in the notorious Evin prison in Teheran until August, spending over four months in solitary confinement, at times with his eyes blindfolded and his hands bound. He was again arrested and beaten in November, before being released on exorbitant bail one month later.
Trade unionists in Iraq faced countless dangers, at the hands of militias, terrorist groups, occupation troops and others. Among the many trade unionists who fell victim to violence there were at least two leaders targeted specifically for their trade union activities, including Thabet Hussein Ali of the health workers’ union. He was abducted and his bullet ridden corpse discovered the following day, bearing signs of severe torture, including wounds caused by an electric drill.
In Palestine the hostilities with Israel and inter-Palestinian violence have made the exercise of trade union rights virtually impossible. The complex restrictions on Palestinians’ movements within and between the occupied territories simply add to their difficulties. Members of an ILO mission experienced this first hand as they sometimes had to use phone or video links to contact Palestinian trade unionists and employers. In a direct attack on the trade union movement, a group of masked men entered a building housing a local PGFTU office and its radio station in October. They first threw a grenade, injuring four people, and then set fire to the offices.
Migrant workers still make up the most vulnerable group in the region. In some cases their rights are not protected by law, in others they are actually barred from union membership. Frequently they dare not organise or take part in collective action for fear of beatings, dismissal or deportation. That was the fate of at least 20 migrant workers at two factories in Jordan, who were arrested, beaten up in custody and then deported for daring to demand improved wages and working conditions. In Qatar many migrant workers were arrested following scuffles with police when they protested over the deaths of two colleagues, and three Nepalese workers were deported after protesting at long working hours and unpaid overtime. The United Arab Emirates (UAE) deported 50 migrant workers for protesting at low wages.
Most vulnerable of all among the migrant workers are the young women workers in domestic service, such as those in Kuwait who are subject to prosecution if they leave their employers, who often confiscate their passports. The women are frequently the victims of physical and sexual abuse. In Saudi Arabia too the total lack of union rights and protection means that migrant workers, particularly women, are frequently subjected to blatant abuse, such as non-payment of wages, forced confinement, rape and physical violence. Similarly in the UAE migrant workers are bound by the sponsor system that puts them at the mercy of their employers and risk deportation if they try to organise or take strike action.
For a report by Article 19 on Freedom of Expression in Iraq, in Arabic. http://www.article19.org/pdfs/publications/iraq-free-speech-arabic.pdf