// you're reading...

Arab World

Influence And Freedom

Contributed by Mehrunisa Qayyum

“None of the MENA countries rank in the top 50,” according to the Reporters Without Border 2011-2012 ‘Press Freedom Index’.

This trend alone, calls for a conversation between media, civil society and emerging citizen journalists. For those who are wary of outside non-MENA based organizations judging MENA countries, I have an indigenous source too.  Here’s the sobering factoid: the Amman-based Center for Defending the Freedom of Journalists (CDFJ) conducted its survey on press freedom and found that only 2 percent of the 500 or so journalist said that they were entirely satisfied with the state of press freedom in the kingdom.

I needed to hear some good news, the bad is just so typical.

Somewhere between the optimism and the pessimism, the back and forth sentiments suffocate my need for a reality check.  I need to understand how people can succeed or inspire despite living in environments (like Syria, Bahrain, Afghanistan, Iran, and Turkey) that present challenges in expressing ideas, opinions, and limit media freedom.

How do people become agents of influence when media outlets determine when, how and who hears their narratives?  The who, what, when, and how determines impact.  If someone’s narrative impacts, then they represent influence. Right?

The good news is that Time Magazine announced its ‘Most Influential People for 2012’.  In particular, PITAPOLICY honed in on those from the pita-consuming region, listed below, and are among the ‘Most Influential’ (this is in no particular order):

  1. Ali Ferzat-Cartoonist, Syria
  2. Samira Ibrahim-Plaintiff, Egypt
  3. Manal Al-Sharif-Activist, Saudi Arabia
  4. Maryam Durrani-Broadcaster, Afghanistan
  5. Rached Ghannouchi-Politician, Tunisia
  6. Asghar Farhadi-Filmmaker, Iran
  7. Ali Babacan & Ahmet Davutoglu-”Neo-Ottomans”: Deputy Prime Minister, Foreign Minister, Turkey
  8. Hammad bin Jassem bin Jaber al-Thani-Prime Minister & Foreign Minister, Qatar
  9. Ayatullah Ali Al-Khamenei- Supreme Leader, Iran
  10. Iftikhar Chaudry-Chief Justice, Pakistan

The terms “influencer” or “influential” connote a heavy judgment.  Simply put: Time’s yearly list not too far off from high school superlatives listed in a yearbook.  Ideally, my personal heroes would be counted among the 100.  However, in reality, whether we agree or not, the controversial exercise of voting “top 100 Influencers” provokes discussion.  On a less cynical note, the list inspires a discussion on what I would argue is the root cause for determining influence: Freedom of the Press.

Freedom of the press–or the limits imposed–pushes certain narratives forward for the less influential (audience) to accept or reject.  Conversely, the audience enjoys limited power through a feedback loop in repeating the narrative of the supposed influencer.  Each media outlet that picks up the narrative, and hits repeat, reproduces the cycle.  Voila: journalists turned bloggers note what’s ‘trending’ and repeat the narrative.  Twitter users, as many have argued, choose to amplify the narrative or amend the narrative.

Before you know it: Time Magazine puts a call out to its audience simplifying a year of initiative to about 100 or so top narratives.  In the end, the top narratives become influencers.  This may be good, if you are hero to a society. This might be bad, if you start applying relativism and algorithms to check on the list. This is one interpretation. Other interpretations are welcome.

The bad news is that Freedom House released its “Freedom of the Press 2012” report, which focused on the Middle East & North Africa region (MENA) entitled, “Breakthroughs and Pushback in the Middle East” compiled by Karin Deutsch Karlekar and Jennifer Dunham.  Specifically, the index assesses the 1) legal, 2) political, and 3) economic factors that influence print, broadcast and internet freedom.

Spoiler alert for the MENA region: more pushback is not necessarily a good thing in this case because censorship and press freedom still permeate many of the countries. When Saudi Arabia scores an 84, as it did this year, KSA didn’t earn a B- rating on its report card.  For this index, the higher the score, the worse the performance.

True, the “Breakthrough” highlights how “In 2011, Libya, Tunisia, and Egypt improved to Partly Free as media freedom expanded with the fall of longtime dictators.”  But I remember how a seasoned Egyptian-American journalist, Hanan Elbadry, worried out loud that self-censorship in Egypt has increased despite the revolutionary spirit, at a media panel in Washington, DC.  As internet and mobile phone use balloons in the region, many MENA governments are adopting new means for controlling technologies that facilitate media freedom.

This region’s media environment underwent huge improvements in 2011, but it remained the worst-performing part of the world. Libya (60), Tunisia (51), and Egypt (57), all moved from ‘Not Free’ to ‘Partly Free’. Great news: recently Juan Cole described

Image from Roibal.com

Tunisia is “now freer than the US”.   However, Bahrain (84 points) and Syria (89 points) both experienced declines in press freedom amid crackdowns on protest movements. Conditions in Iran are still extremely restrictive, with 42 journalists behind bars–the most of any country, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists.

On May 3rd, Bahrain revoked visas for an NGO (Freedom House) to conduct a site visit to follow up on previous recommendations.  The recommendations were not implemented.  Ironically, UNESCO’s World Press Freedom Day celebrations began on May 3rd–in the MENA country of Tunisia.

I do not contest the report’s finding that MENA press sees a “significant net improvement”, but I see that for every Egypt moving forward in media freedom, there’s a Bahrain or two moving backward–and neutralizing the progress. Trends like this remind me that some of the top ‘Time Most Loveable Influencers’ in the region have been freely able to express themselves because they have emigrated from those environments limiting freedom expression, like Mohsen Makhmalbaf, among other great filmmakers.Those who were not so lucky and paid with their livelihoods: the Assad regime took revenge on Political Cartoonist, Ali Farzat, by breaking his hands.

Others are able to express themselves in spite of the environment–like Hammad binn Jassem bin Jaber al-Thani, who literally influences media since he is part of the three factors of production mentioned above: legal, political, and economic influence.




Did you like this? Share it:


371 Responses to “Influence And Freedom”

  1. This excellent article assisted me very much! I would love to stop by. But, I think it might have to wait until this summer. I did not know that Serlkay had ever expanded its size. I must say that a succesful family owned business in this day and age is a very refreshing sight! As well as this is a very refreshing site!

    Posted by kirim bunga | June 17, 2014, 3:10 am
  2. boot socks

    merci beckoooo

    Posted by abdoutd | June 17, 2014, 6:02 pm
  3. Nice post, good to know that this Library topic is being covered also in this web site.How did you get to be this great? Its remarkable to see someone put so much passion into a subject. Im glad I came across this. Im glad I took the time to read on past the first paragraph. Youve got so much to say, so significantly to give. I hope men and women realise this and look into your page

    Posted by airin | June 18, 2014, 2:26 am
  4. Interesting post. I Have Been wondering about this issue, so thanks for posting

    Posted by spinach recipes | June 18, 2014, 8:54 pm
  5. I think that is among the such a lot vital info for me. I'm satisfied that I've discerned this blog website. finally certain thing not a trash, which we proceed through exceedingly frequently. The website is adoringly sustained and kept as much as time boundary. So it should be, thanks for contemplating this with us

    Posted by jam tangan | June 19, 2014, 2:45 am
  6. very ni8ce

    Posted by see other | June 24, 2014, 11:03 am
  7. Interesting post. I Have Been wondering about this issue

    Posted by spinach recipes | July 1, 2014, 8:30 pm
  8. Hey I'm Marnie! I'm a realtor, and have been for more than 30 years. Right now I'm running my own brokerage, Bennett Property Shop Realty. I'm just here to have fun, and hopefully find some funny pictures to laugh at haha. best way to lose weight and tone up after pregnancy

    Posted by best way to lose wei | July 3, 2014, 7:20 am
  9. Keep up the good work.

    Posted by sitesgoogle | July 7, 2014, 9:31 am
  10. Before the war is ended, the war party assumes the divine right to denounce and silence all opposition to war as unpatriotic and cowardly. available online

    Posted by available online | July 17, 2014, 3:53 am
  11. This is actually very helpful. Everything in this post actually tells me something. I like this post very much. You should keep on doing such great posts!

    Posted by archive | July 24, 2014, 6:52 am
  12. I feel really happy to have seen your webpage and look forward to so many more entertaining times reading here. Thanks once more for all the details. where to meet rich men

    Posted by jane | July 25, 2014, 8:30 am
  13. This is an excellent post I seen thanks to share it. It is really what I wanted to see hope in future you will continue for sharing such a excellent post. what others are saying about the system

    Posted by what others are say | August 2, 2014, 9:09 am
  14. Terima kasih dan Selamat datang kami hanturkan atas ketersediaan anda membaca halaman tentang kami ini. Disini kami membahas tentang contoh desain Rumah Minimalis dan Contoh rumah minimalis 36 how to turn her from a friend to a girlfriend

    Posted by how to turn her from | August 2, 2014, 11:02 am
  15. I will be interested in more similar topics. i see you got really very useful topics…

    Posted by my link | August 4, 2014, 8:18 am
  16. How to Treat Genital Herpes Naturally https://archive.org/details/UltimateHerpesProtoco

    Posted by Mike | August 6, 2014, 9:05 am
  17. Everything is very open with a precise clarification of the issues. It was definitely informative. Your site is very useful. Thanks for sharing!

    Posted by kirim bunga | August 8, 2014, 2:40 am
  18. Interesting post. I Have Been wondering about this issue

    Posted by lemon detox diet | August 12, 2014, 12:03 pm
  19. This is also a very good post which I really enjoyed reading. hidecleaner It is not everyday that I have the possibility to see something like this. buy now

    Posted by buy now | August 18, 2014, 9:45 am
  20. In Kentucky, the instant racing machines are becoming more and more popular. Now that California Chrome has a legitimate chance for the triple crown, everybody is talking about horse racing. From the excitement, to the fact that California Chrome really came out of nowhere, to the nose strip controversy, horse racing has really taken up some time in the spotlight. https://www.rebelmouse.com/troublespottrainingrev

    Posted by Muneer | August 21, 2014, 1:05 pm
  21. I am not the only one having all the leisure here!

    Posted by check this | August 29, 2014, 8:04 am
  22. This is some amazing post. I really liked this. I hope that I can get more such posts in the future. Please, don't disappoint me. Cheers! and thank you mate !!!! http://grantboxinggloves.net/

    Posted by Muneer | August 30, 2014, 4:38 am
  23. I'm excited to uncover this page. I need to to thank you for ones time for this particularly fantastic read!! I definitely really liked every part of it and i also have you saved to fav to look at new information in your site

    Posted by LINK | September 3, 2014, 8:18 am
  24. Thank you for the beautiful Thread

    I ask to visit best Weight Loss Shakes

    Posted by Weight Loss Shakes | September 8, 2014, 4:48 pm
  25. we offering online printing services. Please give us orders for clear stickers and other stickers and business card. We assure you on time delivery of your order. https://rebelmouse.com/selfsufficiencyshortcutsre

    Posted by Muneer | September 9, 2014, 7:48 am
  26. Short Description For iPhone 5C LifeProof Case Take your iPhone 5C wherever you go: in the water, dirt, snow, anywhere . Have confidence that it's protected in a LifeProof case. All of your favourite iPhone 5C features remain at your fingertips whatever you're doing. Hill rom nurse call

    Posted by muneer | September 13, 2014, 8:13 am
  27. I just wish to give an enormous thumbs up for the nice info you've got right here on this post. I will probably be coming back to your weblog for more soon.

    Posted by muscle gaining | October 9, 2013, 1:02 am
  28. Where else could anyone get that kind of information in such a perfect way of writing? I have a presentation next week, and I am on a look out for such information.So luck to come across.

    Posted by total six pack ans | October 9, 2013, 1:03 am
  29. Superb article, I really appreciated with it, this is fine to read and valuable pro potential, I really bookmark it, pro broaden read. Appreciation pro sharing. I like it

    Posted by turbulence training | October 9, 2013, 1:03 am
  30. I recently came across your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I don't know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting.

    Posted by ebay wholesale | October 9, 2013, 1:04 am

Post a comment

Connect With Us Ya Hmeer!

resume resume

Recent Posts

So, Who’s the Threat to America Again?
August 20, 2012
By Guest
Where Do We Keep Islamophobia?
August 15, 2012
By Shubnum
Lobbying Versus Advocacy
August 1, 2012
By Mehrunisa
On the destruction of Speaker’s Corner
July 17, 2012
By Abubakr
Stateless & Speechless, A Palestinian Regains Speech
July 12, 2012
By Hanitizer
White, Black American groups ‘swap’ summer interns
July 10, 2012
By Guest
The Costs of Stripping
June 25, 2012
By Mehrunisa
Be The Fundamental Pizza of a Man
June 25, 2012
By Guest
In US, They Want Fun, Fun Fun
June 23, 2012
By Sana
I Ain’t Afraid of No Regime
June 15, 2012
By Husam
ADC: Arab American Professionals’ Gateway to DC
June 12, 2012
By Hanitizer
Influence And Freedom
May 23, 2012
By Guest
Will Sacha Baron Cohen Bring His Muslim Bashing To An End?
May 22, 2012
By Hanitizer
On Chafed Oddballs, Siberian Socialites and Missed Opportunities
May 5, 2012
By Guest
A Single Roll of the Dice
April 23, 2012
By Guest