Representatives of regimes that are predators of press freedom

Reporters Without Borders has a different take on the question of unity.

Reporters Without Borders welcomes the participation of many foreign leaders in today’s march in Paris in homage to the victims of last week’s terror attacks and in defence of the French republic’s values, but is outraged by the presence of officials from countries that restrict freedom of information.

On what grounds are representatives of regimes that are predators of press freedom coming to Paris to pay tribute to Charlie Hebdo, a publication that has always defended the most radical concept of freedom of expression?

Reporters Without Borders is appalled by the presence of leaders from countries where journalists and bloggers are systematically persecuted such as Egypt (which is ranked 159th out of 180 countries in RWB’s press freedom index), Russia (148th), Turkey (154th) and United Arab Emirates (118th).

They have a good point. It’s basically the point I’ve been making about Saudi Arabia all along – Saudi Arabia that is not a Perceived Enemy like IS or AQAP but an official ally. Yes the Couachi brothers are horrible but so is Saudi Arabia – and horrible in the same way for the same shitty reasons.

We must demonstrate our solidarity with Charlie Hebdo without forgetting all the world’s other Charlies,” Reporters Without Borders secretary-general Christophe Deloire said.

It would be unacceptable if representatives of countries that silence journalists were to take advantage of the current outpouring of emotion to try to improve their international image and then continue their repressive policies when they return home. We must not let predators of press freedom spit on the graves of Charlie Hebdo.

Very true. In a way I think it’s good that Egypt and Russia are represented at the Paris march, because whether they like it or not that constitutes a statement for freedom of expression – but in another way I think it’s bad for the reason RWB gives – it also constitutes a burnishing of their reputations.


  1. says

    A reason it might be good: So long as they feel they must at least pay lip service to freedom of speech, that will also limit their ability to violate that right at home, at least somewhat.

  2. Jesper Both Pedersen says

    I wouldn’t count on it, Harald.

    Leave no witnesses is a pretty effective measure when you got the press by the short and curlies.

  3. brucegorton says

    According to AP, Egypt sentenced Karim al-Banna to three years in prison for a series of Facebook posts they argued constituted an attack on religion today.

    He had apparently gone to the police station to report an assault by local villagers, and gotten arrested for being an atheist.

    His “trial” involved a single session during which his lawyers were barred from presenting a defence.

    Yeah, I’m with RWB on this one.

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