View of part of the Fujairah Corniche and the Hajar Mountains in the Background

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Is the UAE on the ‘10 Worst Countries to be a Blogger’ List?

The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) has released its special report which names the worst online oppressors.

Did the UAE or its neighbors make the list?

It is worth reading the report as traditionally press freedom has focused on journalists and editors with bloggers hardly gaining a mention.

This report is tribute to the significance of blogging, especially in advancing the truth to the world from countries with oppressive leadership and high censorship.

Joel Simon of the Committee to Protect Journalists believes that bloggers are in the vanguard of the current information revolution.

The report gives examples of how nations pressure and punish writers and photographers, thereby restricting the freedom to proclaim the truth.

This report is highlighted by Time magazine in an article entitled ‘Blogging Can Kill You’. It will be interesting to read the ever growing number of Comments that add further examples and insights. Scott MacLeod, author of the Time article, projects a common view when he says that it is, “no surprise that the Middle East features prominently [in the Top Ten List].”

UAE Making Steady Improvement
It is important to note and applaud the steady rise of the UAE in the annual Press Freedom Index.

Strategic Moment
Some commentators believe that the new media laws that are currently being drafted will restrict freedom in the UAE rather than allow freedom to flourish.

Other observers believe that these very laws are a step forward and that the UAE is poised to become a significant model for freedom of the press.

It will be interesting to see which way the UAE moves on this important matter of press freedom.

10 Worst Countries to be a Blogger, CJP, 30 April 2009.

UAE Can Become the Model for Freedom of Press, Gulf News, 13 April 2009.
UAE Media Law Undermines Free Expression, HRW, 13 April 2009.
Press Freedom Declining Around the World, Zawya, 30 April, 2009.
Global Press Freedom Declines, Freedom House, 1 May 2009.

Dr Geoff Pound

Image: Blogger Abdel Karim Suleiman, known online as Karim Amer, is serving a four-year prison term on charges of insulting Islam and Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.