CPJ Blog

Press Freedom News and Views

Kamel Labidi

Kamel Labidi is a freelance journalist and former CPJ representative and consultant for the Middle East and North Africa region. Labidi returned from exile to Tunisia in 2011 to head the National Commission to Reform Information and Communication. He resigned in 2012 to protest the lack of political will of the Islamist-led government to implement the commission’s recommendations.

Blog   |   Tunisia

Rice, Tunisia in press reform dance

Tunisia's media, one of the most muzzled in the Arab world, reported for the first time a couple weeks ago that a high-ranking U.S. official had raised the issue of reform with the country's autocratic ruler, who is also a zealous supporter of President George W. Bush's war on terror.

The official was Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. She briefly stopped on September 6 in Tunis, as part of a North African tour that led her to pay a historic visit to Libyan leader Muammar el-Qaddafi before traveling for talks mainly on counterterrorism issues with his Tunisian and Algerian counterparts, Zine El Abidine Ben Ali and Abdelaziz Bouteflika, as well as King Mohamed VI of Morocco.

September 15, 2008 10:50 AM ET


Blog   |   Egypt

Egyptian journalists face the trials of September

Many in Egypt still dread the month of September. Twenty-seven years ago, the government arbitrarily jailed hundreds of civil society activists of different political and religious leanings, including journalists. The capricious crackdown, which occurred only a few weeks before President Anwar Sadat's assassination on October 6, 1981, by a radical Islamist was spurred by unsubstantiated and politically motivated charges.

The detainees, among them scores of the country's most prominent lawyers, academics, and journalists, were charged with fomenting sedition and undermining the regime's stability and violating its "Law of Shame," which made it illegal to spread rumors likely to damage the state.

Four editors are due to appear before two Cairo appeal courts later this month for defaming President Hosni Mubarak and his top aides and spreading rumors about the aging president's health. Surely, they must have in the back of their minds the ominous crackdown on the media and political dissenters that helped lead Egypt to the brink of disaster in September 1981.

September 2, 2008 6:36 PM ET


Blog   |   Morocco

Hormatallah released from "cemetery for the living"

The release of Mustafa Hormatallah, a Moroccan editor at the independent weekly Al-Watan Al An, prompted a memorable scene on July 25 as he exited Akacha Prison in Casablanca, Morocco's most populous and business-oriented city.

Scores of well-wishers including relatives, friends, and representatives of the of the National Syndicate of the Moroccan Press and human rights groups flocked early that Friday morning to this notorious prison to greet Hormatallah as he took his first steps toward freedom. They gave him a warm welcome after his eight months of captivity for practicing independent journalism. At 9:45 a.m. local time, he emerged from the gate of what he called a "cemetery for the living."

August 5, 2008 1:18 PM ET