Journalists are facing increasing attacks aimed at preventing them from doing their work. A new report has shown that the most dangerous regions for journalists include the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) that have remained “the toughest and most dangerous for journalists” . This information is published by Peoples Dispatch. Here is an excerpt:
Countries in the Middle East-North Africa (MENA) region continue to be the “the toughest and most dangerous for journalists,” press freedom watchdog Reporters Without Borders (RSF) said in its latest annual 2021 World Press Freedom Index. According to the RSF, this is part of a broader global trend of journalism and press freedoms being “totally blocked or seriously impeded” in nearly 75% of the 180 countries that were examined in the index. Many countries, especially those in the MENA region, have used the pretext of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic to increase their control over the media and severely restrict or interfere with access to accurate and reliable information.
Criticizing the countries of the region, the RSF in a statement said that “with massaged statistics and media outlets limited to publishing official releases, the Middle East’s most authoritarian countries have used the pandemic to continue or even reinforce their existing methods for gagging the press.” The RSF singled out countries like Saudi Arabia, Syria and Egypt for “reaffirming their monopoly of news and information,” noting that they “already exercised almost total control over their media” even before the COVID-19 outbreak.
The index revealed that the MENA region has 12 ‘red’ or ‘black’ states, indicating that the status of press freedoms in those countries is either ‘bad’ or ‘very bad’. Out of the total 180 countries in the index, Iran ranked 174th, Syria 173rd, Saudi Arabia 170th and Egypt came in at 166, with other countries in the region not faring much better. Algeria and Morocco were ranked marginally higher at 146 and 136, respectively. Yemen and Libya, both countries mired in civil conflict and years of foreign interference and military intervention by regional and global powers, ranked at 169 and 165, respectively. Iraq took the 163rd rank. As per the report, the MENA region countries continue to remain at the lowest in the rankings.
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