Social Media in the Arab World, Snowball heading to Democracy

ANHRIreprot09

On its website, the Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI), Arabic network that promotes freedom of speech, announced:

The internet has a snowball effect on the process of democracy in the Arab world. This new force cannot be stopped by government’s actions of censorship, blocking the internet and arresting and even torturing internet users.

The announcement came two days before releasing a new report by ANHRI entitled “One social Network, with a Rebellious Message“, the reports is addressing the freedom of internet usage in 20 Arab countries, as well as examining four tools (Blogs, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube) that are utilized by Arab youth, to practice their right of free expression, exposing human rights violations, highlighting corruptions and acts of repression in the Arab world.

The report also covers the violations committed against internet users; such as kidnapping, arresting, torturing internet users using the Emergency Law like in Egypt and Syria. In some countries, like Saudi Arabia, religious authorities have issued statements banning some websites that the governments were not able to block.

ANHRI noted that among the internet users, that reached 58 million in the Arab world, only internet users in Lebanon, Algeria and Somalia have relative freedom in using the internet. Also, the level of repression and harassment against internet users has increased with the increase in the number of users.

Countries, like Saudi Arabia, Tunisia and Syria, continue to block websites. In Egypt, although, the act of blocking website stopped five years ago, but the regime in Egypt is now directing its repression against bloggers and internet users. ANHRI marks that Egypt has become the most repressive country to internet users in the Arab world.

The report will be available online today, Wednesday 23rd Dec 2009.

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