In most elections, the voters’ central dilemma is deciding whether to vote for candidate A, B, or C. However, in Egypt’s upcoming May 26–27 presidential election, citizens and organizing blocs are understandably asking themselves whether to vote at all.
Freedom House yesterday released its annual Freedom of the Press report. The findings paint a grim picture of the state of global media freedom, with just 14 percent of the world’s population enjoying a vibrant press with diverse views and minimal state intrusion.
Each year at this time, Freedom House, a Washington-based institute that specializes in research on global democracy, issues a report on the condition of press freedom around the world. The report’s findings for the past year make for disturbing reading. The number of countries that experienced a significant decline in media freedom outstripped the number that registered improvements. Even worse, trends for the past decade indicate a steady erosion in the ability of media to cover the most critical civic and political issues. The report’s most chilling conclusion: Only one in six people worldwide live in societies with a genuinely free press, the lowest percentage in over a decade.
A majority of Americans see democracy in the U.S. as weak and getting weaker, according to a national survey released by The Democracy Project, a joint initiative of Freedom House, the George W. Bush Institute, and the Penn Biden Center for Diplomacy and Global Engagement.
Policing Belief: The Impact of Blasphemy Laws on Human Rightsexamines the human rights implications of domestic blasphemy and religious insult laws using the case studies of seven countries—Algeria, Egypt, Greece, Indonesia, Malaysia, Pakistan and Poland—where such laws exist both on paper and in practice. Without exception, blasphemy laws violate the fundamentalfreedom of expression, as they are by definition intended to protect religious institutions and religious doctrine– i.e., abstract ideas and concepts – from insult or offence. At their most benign, such laws lead to self-censorship. In Greece and Poland, two of the more democratic countries examined in the study, charges brought against high-profile artists, curators and writers serve as a warning to others that certain topics are off limits. At their worst, in countries such as Pakistan and Malaysia, such laws lead to overt governmental censorship and individuals are both prosecuted and subject to severe criminal penalties including lengthy jail sentences.
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