Deeper in darkness: MENA in Press Freedom Index 2017 compares to 2016

Deeper in darkness: MENA in Press Freedom Index 2017 compares to 2016

AJN Report: “Ever darker world map”. That’s how “Reporters without borders/RSF” entitled its Press Freedom Index 2017. MENA (The Middle East and North Africa) countries are not only close on the geographical map, but also on Press Freedom Index map. Most of them come at the bottom of the list with a worrying number of issues.

Compared to 2016, the MENA position on the index show a little bit change in 2017. Out of 180 positions, they all lie between 91st and 177th. Israel topped the list with the biggest change (up 10 at the 91st position) instead of Tunisia last year (down 1 at 97th). Syria came at 177th with no change.

Six countries (out of 19 in MENA) are in “the predator of press freedom list”. Egyptian president and the leader of July 3, 2013, military coup, Abdel Fattah Al-Sissi, Iran’s supreme leader Ali Khamenei, Syria’s dictator president Bashar Al Assad, Bahrain’s king Hamad Bin Issa Al Khalifa, Saudi Arabia’s king Salman Bin Abdelaziz, Houthis Militias and “Islamic State/IS”.

Seven countries (out of 21 in the global list) are marked “black” or very bad for journalists; Syria, Libya, Yemen, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Iran, and Bahrain. Eight countries (out of 51 in the global list) or marked “red” or bad; Morocco, Algeria, Jordan, Oman, Palestine, Iraq, UAE, and Qatar. Only 4 countries marked “Orange” or problematic; Israel, Tunisia, Lebanon, and Kuwait.

RSF’s report described Egypt and Bahrain as “one of the biggest prisons for journalists in the world”. A journalist may rot in a cell without trial and even his life may become under threat in the name of combatting terrorism in Egypt. A tweet criticizing the authorities in Bahrain or criticizing the monarchy in Saudi Arabia may lead to jail so easily. Revolutionary guards harass any journalist to censor information that embarrasses the regime.

Between dictators and militias, Syria became world’s deadliest place for journalists, from Houthis Kalashnikovs in Yemen to “Islamic State” knives in Iraq, Syria, and Libya, journalism became very adventurous in conflicted zones of MENA region.

RSF issues the press freedom index annually, find the 2017 release here.


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