Iraqi journalist and radio commentator Hadi al-Mehdi was shot to death by gunmen in Baghdad on September 9. His killing is thought to be related to his public criticism of the government. Al-Mehdi mobilized Facebook followers on a weekly basis to protest in Tahrir Square. He also hosted radio show “To Whoever Listens,” airing three times a week, but left the show in July fearing for his safety. Al-Mehdi has been attacked before, recently had been receiving daily phone, texts, and social media threats, some threats warning him not to return to protests. In February 2011, Army troops arrested, tortured and later released al-Mehdi and several other journalists. In 2009, gunmen attempted to kill al-Mehdi, and shot him in the neck and head.
Freedom House supports recent demands by local journalists and freedom of expression advocates in the Middle East and North African region for reform of state media organizations as well as the repeal of restrictive media laws and condemns increased crackdowns on journalists during the current political turmoil.
Despite continuing resistance from religious and cultural elites, women in the Middle East and North Africa have made modest progress in achieving certain rights over the past five years. While women in the region suffer from greater inequality than do women elsewhere, they now enjoy more economic opportunity, fewer barriers to education, and expanded ability to participate in the political process than they did five years ago. These are the conclusions of Women’s Rights in the Middle East and North Africa: Progress Amid Resistance, a new study released today by Freedom House.
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.