Report: Internet is a tool for repression and resistance in Arab world

Report: Internet is a tool for repression and resistance in Arab world


Cairo: On Sunday the Arabic Network for Human Rights Information, ANHRI, expressed its deep concern about the escalation of suppression of internet users by Arab states.

 According to the organization’s statement, Egyptian bloggers are subjected to kidnapping, torture and detention. Furthermore certain websites are blocked by the government where they have upheld the right to freedom of expression revealing continued corruption and human rights violations.

ANHRI prepared a major report titled “The Freedom of Internet in the Arab World” and subtitled “One Social Network with One Rebellious Mission”. The report will announce its findings at a news conference in full on Wednesday. The report stressed that the internet has become one of the most important tools of resistance against tyranny, and that its users, according to the report, are subjected to torture and prosecution by security services of the non-democratic Arab governments.

The network revealed in its lengthy report that the number of Internet users in the Arab world have reached 58 million people, however these countries impose restrictions in one form or another on the use of the internet. The report pointed out that blogs, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube are important tools for Arab internet users in their quest to expose the non-democratic practices in their country. The report highlighted Egypt and Syria as two of the largest internet oppressors in the Arab world. Internet bloggers are arrested, tortured, prosecuted and transferred to detentions by security personnel and judicial proceedings would take place without fair trials or investigations.

 According to the report, Egypt even exceeds Syria in its suppression of internet activists, citing examples such as the secular blogger Kareem Amer, currently jailed in Burj Al Arab prison in Alexandria, and Hany Nazir who is also imprisoned there. The report stated that, while Egypt and Syria often prosecute internet users, Saudi Arabia tops the list of Arab states that currently suppresses freedom of expression on the internet, using religious edicts to close some sites. The report said that internet users in Lebanon, Algeria and Somalia have a relatively high amount of internet freedom, yet even in states known for being democratic, like the UAE and Morocco, cases of harassment and prosecution of internet users are not uncommon.