Attacks on the Press
| Algeria, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Libya, Morocco, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Tunisia, UAE, Yemen
As democracy falters, Arab press still pushes for freedom
By Joel Campagna
Across the Middle East, political reform gained momentum in the aftermath of the September 11, 2001, attacks on the United States and the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in March 2003. Egyptians and Lebanese clamored for democracy; elections in Iraq, Palestine, Yemen, and Saudi Arabia offered a more pluralistic future. In a number of Arab countries, the media seized the moment. Newspapers in Egypt and Yemen smashed long-held taboos by openly criticizing political leaders, while in Iraq the toppling of Saddam Hussein opened the way for a vibrant news media. Autocrats known for smothering dissent suddenly touted the virtues of democracy, a system of government that U.S. President George W. Bush, buoyed by initial military success in Iraq, vowed to spread across a region of princes and potentates.