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Middle East & North Africa


Aboubakr Jamai, left, says the Spanish prosecutor's investigation will embold the Moroccan government in its case against Ali Anouzla. (AFP/Fadel Senna)

Morocco's inclination for wielding terrorism accusations against journalists and news outlets who report on extremist groups has extended to Spain, where authorities are investigating El País newspaper and one of its journalists at the behest of the Moroccan government.

Lebanese army soldiers and residents gather at the site of an explosion in Nabi Osmane in the Bekaa Valley on March 17. (Reuters/Hassan Abdallah)

The recent kidnapping of two journalists in Lebanon is the latest and most troubling evidence that the press is in increasing danger as the Syrian civil war spills over into Lebanese politics.

CPJ joined 26 other human rights and civil society groups on Wednesday in an open letter calling on the member states of the U.N. Human Rights Council to renew the mandate of Ahmed Shaheed, the special rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Iran. The public letter also urged the members to participate in the March 17 Interactive Dialogue with the special rapporteur and to express concern over the severe violations of human rights, including anti-press abuses, in Iran.

Anti-government protesters take cover from teargas fired by riot police in the village of Daih on March 3. (Reuters/Hamad I Mohammed)

Thursday, the official Bahrain News Agency announced the "final 30-day countdown [to] the Formula One extravaganza" to take place the first week of April. Every year the race acts as a lightning rod for criticism of the Bahraini government, which seeks to use high-profile international events like the F1 to gloss over human rights violations in the country.

Today, on Al-Jazeera's Global Day of Action, the Qatari-based broadcaster is urging Egyptian authorities to release its journalists who have been held behind bars for months. CPJ calls on the Egyptian government to release all of the journalists jailed in the country. At least nine journalists are currently imprisoned in Egypt, four of whom work for Al-Jazeera, according to CPJ research.

Three years ago, hundreds of thousands of Bahrainis descended to the streets to demand change. A harsh government crackdown and the turn to violence by some protesters have since dampened the hope lit on February 14, 2011. In this context, we asked Bahrainis and Bahrain observers on Twitter how they think the status of press freedom has changed in the country. We know what we think: The Bahraini government has fallen terribly short of its own rhetoric of reform. But we wanted to hear directly from those who work and live in Bahrain every day.

Below is a Storify of some of the answers we received. 

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Today CPJ, along with close to 200 civil society groups from six continents, called on the United Nations to put government accountability and independent media at the center of a new framework for global development. 

Today, the Committee to Protect Journalists joined other leading international media freedom and human rights organizations, including Article 19, Index on Censorship, and Reporters Without Borders, in calling on the European Union and United States to demand Egyptian authorities drop charges against Al-Jazeera journalists and release those under arrest.

Today the Committee to Protect Journalists joins 15 other press freedom and media development organizations calling on the participants of the Syrian peace conference in Geneva to include freedom of the press and expression as "fundamental cornerstones in any viable political settlement."

Human rights groups and legislators are praising the third and final draft of Tunisia's new constitution as one of the most liberal charters in the Arab world--and for being arrived at by a remarkably consensual process among political parties, especially if compared with neighboring Egypt and Libya.

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