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The Censorship Issue In The Middle East

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By Author: Sherry Roberts
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The issue of censorship in the Middle East tends to be shifting in form. In most countries, the subtle form of state surveillance tends to be replacing the violent and repressive state powers (Panah, 2013). The censorship in Middle East is continuing to evolve and adapt so as to find new ways for silencing dissidents. Social media in Middle East provide users with the ability to lift the curtain of censorship that plagued the region for very long. For instance, the Gulf States have a thriving underground social media scene. Online activists speaking the truth tend to earn a strong following that is not easy for authorities to take away. However, censorship is a real and everyday concern for most prominent bloggers and also social media users. In 2012, Rashid Saleh Al-Anzi got sentenced to two years imprisonment for tweeting offensive remarks directed to Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad of Kuwait. Al-Anzi is one of the victims of censorship in a religion marked by tension between the modern outlets such as Twitter and the repressive regimes (Panah, 2013).
In Saudi Arabia, Okaz is the most popular newspaper in the kingdom. The royal family normally owns and controls most of Saudi press that dominates the Arab world. Some of the constraints placed in the press include nothing provocative about Islam, the royal family, and the government (Wright 2004). The domestic mass media in Saudi Arabia is under the government’s control. Content in the media has to pass through censors before making it in print or on air. During the press if usually privately owned, the government tend to appoint the editor-in-chief for each newspaper. Any criticism of the government, religious leaders, and the royal family can result in a ban on journalists or news offices closing in the kingdom. In Saudi Arabia where there is tightly-controlled media environment, there is a lot that people cannot say. As a result of media censorships, Saudis tend to be looking elsewhere for uncensored entertainment and news. They are looking for satellite signals despite being illegal to own a satellite dish in the country (Wright 2004). However, the skyline in every city has a satellite dish on the people’s rooftops.
The press in Saudi Arabia does not play any role in changing the country. There is no single paper in the country that calls for reforms because the structure of newspapers in the kingdom cannot make reform possible (Wright 2004). The Arab countries fit in the authoritarian media system model. It is a media system set up by the government licensing under the laws that regulate the actions of journalists (Duffy, 2014). The laws tend to create a press that supports the state policies instead of acting as watchdogs. The Arab universities have a culture of self-censorship because academics that get too close to very sensitive subjects such as the mechanism used in censoring the press may lose their position. Because of lack of freedom and the established laws, the host countries can even expel such institutions (Duffy, 2014). The Arab judges tend to provide very few defenses for the journalists, and the prominence of the Islam means that the Islam culture leans heavily towards conservatism. The scant press law in the Arab countries provides very few if any meaningful guarantees for robust and free media. The law also prescribes very severe criminal penalties for very vague defined forms of defamation.
There is a serious compromise of press freedom in the Arab world because of the lack of accountability and legitimacy of the region’s regime who view the free circulation of information as fatally dangerous. Another reason for the compromise of press freedom is because of the volatility of the region and the conflicts that plague the region. It is also because of the regional and ethnic fault lines that increase tension and the legacy of the western colonialism and Ottoman (Diab, 2010). The instability of the Middle East is not just a reason, but a reason.

Diab, K (2010). Press freedom still lags in Middle East The Guardian
Duffy, M (2014). Arab media regulations Berkeley Journal of Middle Eastern &Islamic law 6 (2)
Panah, H (2013). Internet censorship is reaching a whole Policy.Mic
Rubin, B (2015). The Middle East Routledge Publishing
Wright, L. (2004). The kingdom of silence New Yorker, 79(41)

Sherry Roberts is the author of this paper. A senior editor at Melda Research in online nursing papers. If you need a similar paper you can place your order for a custom research paper from custom research paper services.

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