A Violation of Human Rights
When banning books and coloring magazines black to hide skin are actions taken by higher powers in a society, it is no surprise when certain websites are blocked, the internet is shutoff, journalists are imprisoned, and voices silenced in the Middle East.
Propaganda used to take the form of posters and prints, yet now it is through posts on the streams of social networks.
You can like, follow, block, report, and even self-censor to protect your safety, because the power doesn’t belong to the people.
Freedom of speech is being stripped away from the human rights of citizens of Middle Eastern countries.
According to Freedom House, an independent organization dedicated to expanding freedom and democracy around the world, “In response to pro-democracy uprisings across the Middle East and North Africa, authoritarian regimes cracked down severely on dissent, going to new extremes of political violence, mass arrests, and restrictive legislation.”
This organization has documented several cases of human rights violations in countries such as Algeria, Egypt, Jordan, and Tunisia. These violations are placing limitations on freedom of speech.
A problematic process that stems out of these restrictions in today’s technology-driven world is media censorship, which has plagued almost every inch of the Middle East.
In today’s society, the use of the internet and media platforms has become a part of the lives of everyday people, with over 4 billion people around the world using the internet.
Whether they are checking out a friend’s post, or reading the news, there are higher powers that are controlling what they want their people to see.
In the Middle East’s case, what they don’t want them to see.
The effects of media censorship could vary in negativity.
During the 2017 blockade of Qatar, by Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, and Egypt, Turkey has allied with Qatar, aiding it through the boycott.
A media censorship act such as banning popular Turkish series from broadcasting outlets such as Saudi’s MBC might seem like a small-scale problem that will only affect viewers of the soapoperas, yet this action demonstrates a larger form of boycotting Turkey.
Nine million SnapChat daily users in Saudi Arabia have been blocked from viewing Al Jazeera’s content on their Discover Channels after Saudi government asked the media platform to remove the Qatari media network off of their citizen’s screens. This is another act of censorship taken by the Saudi Arabian government to block content that “violate the laws of the country.” Larger forms of violations target the freedom of the press.
According to Reporters Without Borders, an international non-profit organization that promotes freedom of information and of the press, “When the Arab Spring got under way in 2011, the population in some countries demonstrated their thirst for freedom by their use of the media and social networks. Spaces for expression have emerged but the situation has not improved everywhere and the region continues to be one of the most dangerous for journalists.”
The Committee to Protect Journalists, an independent organization that promotes press freedom worldwide, has listed the “10 Most Censored Countries” as a part of their annual publication, Attacks on the Press. Of those countries were Saudi Arabia and Iran, Saudi being the third most censored, and Iran the seventh.
Social media platforms such as Facebook an Twitter have been banned in Iran since 2009.
The organizations previously listed are advocating for a change in order to give the power back to the people. Yet most of the power still remains in the hands of political leaders and governments, that are creating a tighter grip on the media in order to control it. This hunger for censorship is driven by the fear of rebellion, which has been sparked after the revolutions of The Arab Spring.
Miraj Islamic School, Staten Island, USA