The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), representing 600 000 journalists worldwide, has expressed its deep concerns today following the blocking of news web site al-Araby al-Jadeed and its English counterpart The New Arab, in Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Egypt.
Al-Araby al-Jadeedand The New Arab report that they were initially blocked by the Saudi Arabian Ministry of Culture and Media on 22nd December. Then, the UAE also blocked access to the website. Later, Egypt took the same path.
The editors of al-Araby al-Jadeed and The New Arab said they received no explanation for these infringements to press freedom. Abdulrahman Elshayyal, CEO of al-Araby al-Jadeed and The New Arab, said: “The blocking of these websites goes against the company’s principles of supporting democracy, human rights and liberty, as well as the notion of press freedom (…) We are at a loss to identify which, if any, stories may have led to this decision - it is quite possible that our editorial line, which is pro-democracy and pro-freedom of speech, just wasn't to their liking”.
Michelle Stanistreet, NUJ General Secretary, said: “This is a serious attack on press freedom and an assault on the news organisation's democratic right to report the news and provide its readers with information. The international community must make loud and clear their opposition to the governments of Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Egypt. This heavy-handed censorship must not be allowed to continue."
However, despite the ban, it is possible to have access to blocked sources worldwide, via proxy sites for instance.
Jim Boumelha, IFJ President, joined the members of al-Araby al-Jadeed and The New Arabby saying: “The blocking of this news web site with no proper explanation given for such act is another blow to press freedom in the region. It is a curb to citizens’ rights to have access to diverse sources of information. That is why we call on governments of Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Egypt to immediately lift this ban”.
To support al-Araby al-Jadeed and The New Arab in their campaign against censorship, use the Arabic-language hashtag #حجب_العربي_الجديد on Twitter
For more information, please contact IFJ on + 32 2 235 22 16
The IFJ represents more than 600,000 journalists in 139 countries