Arab and Persian Winter Not Good For Freedom of Expression

Looks as if the Syrian and Iranian governments are dead set against allowing their people express their opinions. Two stories in recent days make it very clear.

Syrian media awaken despite clampdown


Iran Mounts New Web Crackdown

The Syrian action makes it more dangerous each day for professional and citizen journalists to report on the government’s attacks on demonstrators.

Now, journalists documenting the uprising are prime targets of the security forces, said Mohamed Abdel Dayem of the Committee to Protect Journalists in New York.

“They are snatched from their homes, off the street or place of employment and held incommunicado,” he said. Although the contributors to Syria Wants Freedom and Hurriyat have not been arrested, all kinds of media workers have been detained, including those who worked as reporters before the revolution, bloggers such as the activist Razan Ghazzawi, and people who are not journalists in the traditional sense but have documented protests on mobile phones and uploaded the footage online, he said.

In Iran, the government is taking a page out of China’s book and tightening control of the Internet, including placing cameras in Internet cafes.

In the most sweeping move, Iran issued regulations giving Internet cafes 15 days to install security cameras, start collecting detailed personal information on customers and document users’ online footprints.

Until now, Iran’s cybercafes have been a youth-culture mainstay of most towns and neighborhoods, used not only by activists but also by other Iranians who believe the security of their home computers is already compromised.

None of this is surprising or unexpected. But it is clear — in both countries — that there is plenty of pushing back against the threats and intimidation from the governments.

What is clear is that like most dictatorships the Syrian and Iranian leadership are most fearful of their own people.

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Filed under Censorship, International News Coverage

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