Freedom of expression is not exactly a cherished right in the Middle East.  There are brave people fighting for that right, and here are a few cases, from C.R.I.M.E. Report:

“They Cannot Control the Sky”: Tunis Radio Defiant after Shutdown

Radio Kalima, a small independent station headquartered in Tunis, has Tunisian officials spooked. Initially Radio Kalima broadcast only online, in conjunction with a news web portal. But at the end of January, just as the station launched a satellite broadcast, a phalanx of plainclothes officers suddenly raided the station, confiscating equipment, sealing the office, and changing the locks.

Kalima, whose website has been targeted by hackers under suspicious circumstances, has made a name for itself by reporting on corruption in Tunisian society. The government maintains a tight grip on the country’s media and evidently felt threatened by an outlet that refuses to stick within the unspoken redlines. But, in the words of Radio Kalima station manger
Siham Bensadrine, “They cannot control the sky.”

Detention: Lock up the Students… and the Teachers

When Saeed Razavi Faghih returned to Iran after studying abroad in France, he received a summons to the Revolutionary Court six days later. Authorities promptly sent Faghih to the notorious Evin Prison, claiming he violated a travel ban – though his outspoken journalism has gotten him in trouble before.

At the opposite end of the region, in Marrakech, a student solidarity march at Cadi Ayyad University ended violently with Moroccan police using intense force to shut down the rally. One arrested student, Abderrazak El Gadiri, was tortured by police and died the next day as a result of injuries.

In Syria, authorities continue to withhold information on student Mohammad Abdulqadir Talib, arrested months ago for donating $20 to impoverished Iraqis. Talib has been subjected to extreme torture to admit false acusations against him.

Quiz: Who was sentenced to six years in jail – after he was pardoned?

Answer: Abdulkarim al-Khaiwani, the pioneering Yemeni journalist, was convicted of “disseminating pro-rebel propaganda to local and foreign media” on January 26. Yemen’s Special Court on Terrorism upheld the guilty verdict against al-Khaiwani, despite pardon he received from President Saleh in September. The pardon, which came in the wake of
international campaign, seemed to close the trumped up case against al-Khaiwani. The court’s sudden decision came as a surprise to al-Khaiwani, who was unaware of the trial and received no summons for the hearing. Is this Yemen’s ironic version of an independent judiciary?

Courage knows no cultural or ethnic boundaries.

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