Middle East and North Africa | Page 163 | Freedom House

Middle East and North Africa

The Arab Spring of 2011 launched an era of sweeping political changes in the countries of the Middle East and North Africa, which has historically been the least free region in the world. The fall of longtime leaders and the people's rising demands for a stronger voice in their own governance have brought new opportunities for reform and democratic transition in countries otherwise marked by severe abuses of almost all fundamental political rights and civil liberties. Freedom House is helping citizens to realize these aspirations through a variety of programs across the region. Our work in this region is summarized here.

Asterisks in the country list below indicate a territory rather than a country.

Countries & Territories: 21
420 million people
5% free
Press:
0% free

Percent computed by population. Population source data.

News & Updates

With nearly two months to go before constituent assembly elections, Tunisia confronts a long list of challenges to the creation of a democratic system. Expectations for swift and wide-ranging reforms are very high among a population hungry for change after decades of harsh authoritarian rule. Ordinary citizens are eager to enjoy the benefits of meaningful political freedom and economic prosperity, having endured unrelenting repression, mismanagement, and the plundering of resources by a small circle around the family of former president Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali. The political uncertainty in the wake of the dictator’s departure has taken a toll on the Tunisian economy and its tourism sector in particular, on which some 500,000 people in this country of 10 million depend for employment. The ongoing conflict in neighboring Libya is another encumbrance, as it deprives Tunisia of much-needed trade revenue and generates regional instability.

As Iranians commemorate Journalists’ Day on August 8 (17th of Mordad in the Iranian calendar), Iran remains one of world’s most dangerous countries for reporters. Freedom House condemns the Iranian regime’s ongoing crackdown on journalists and calls for the release of Bahman Ahmadi Amouee and all other journalists who remain unfairly imprisoned.

Freedom House condemns the latest bout of violence unleashed by the Syrian regime against peaceful protestors on July 15, in which 32 people were killed by security forces in Damascus and other cities, and reiterates its call for the resignation of President Assad. Freedom House also calls on the Obama Administration to meet with a range of representative Syrian opposition figures to send a firm signal to the Syrian regime that it can no longer expect to remain in power.

The thousands that filled Cairo’s Tahrir Square, once again, on July 8 were not demanding the downfall of a regime. They were, instead, standing up for the promise of a revolution that they fear has gone badly wrong. They were there to demand that the country’s military rulers honor their vows to effect a transition to genuine democracy, with all that entails—not just free and fair elections, although those remain in doubt—but justice for those victimized and killed by the security forces during the revolution, legal accountability for figures of the Mubarak regime accused of serious crimes, and transparent governance by the military on the road to democracy. There is a sense in Egypt that the gains of the revolution may be slipping away, and the political process is in danger of failing.These concerns are far from unwarranted.

Pages

Experts

Research Director, Technology and Democracy

Adrian Shahbaz is the Research Director for Technology and Democracy at Freedom House.

Director, Middle East and North Africa Program

Dokhi Fassihian is the Director of the Middle East and North Africa Program. Before joining Freedom House, she led several nongovernmental organizations working in the area of democracy and human rights and promotion.

Issues: 
37 million people
Press:
Not Free
Status
Not Free
Scores Overview
5.5 / 7 (least free)
Freedom Rating
82 million people
Internet:
Not Free
Press:
Not Free
Status
Not Free
Scores Overview
6.0 / 7 (least free)
Freedom Rating
68
(0 = Best, 100 = Worst) / 100 (least free)
Internet Freedom
79 million people
Internet:
Not Free
Press:
Not Free
Status
Not Free
Scores Overview
6.0 / 7 (least free)
Freedom Rating
85
(0 = Best, 100 = Worst) / 100 (least free)
Internet Freedom
34 million people
Press:
Not Free
Status
Not Free
Scores Overview
5.5 / 7 (least free)
Freedom Rating
7.9 million people
Press:
Partly Free
Status
Free
Scores Overview
2.0 / 7 (least free)
Freedom Rating
6.3 million people
Internet:
Partly Free
Press:
Not Free
Status
Partly Free
Scores Overview
5.0 / 7 (least free)
Freedom Rating
53
(0 = Best, 100 = Worst) / 100 (least free)
Internet Freedom
2.9 million people
Press:
Partly Free
Status
Partly Free
Scores Overview
5.0 / 7 (least free)
Freedom Rating
4.3 million people
Internet:
Partly Free
Press:
Partly Free
Status
Partly Free
Scores Overview
5.0 / 7 (least free)
Freedom Rating
46
(0 = Best, 100 = Worst) / 100 (least free)
Internet Freedom
6.5 million people
Internet:
Partly Free
Press:
Not Free
Status
Not Free
Scores Overview
6.5 / 7 (least free)
Freedom Rating
54
(0 = Best, 100 = Worst) / 100 (least free)
Internet Freedom
33 million people
Internet:
Partly Free
Press:
Not Free
Status
Partly Free
Scores Overview
5.0 / 7 (least free)
Freedom Rating
45
(0 = Best, 100 = Worst) / 100 (least free)
Internet Freedom
3.1 million people
Press:
Not Free
Status
Not Free
Scores Overview
5.5 / 7 (least free)
Freedom Rating
1.9 million people
Press:
Not Free
Status
Not Free
Scores Overview
5.5 / 7 (least free)
Freedom Rating
29 million people
Internet:
Not Free
Press:
Not Free
Status
Not Free
Scores Overview
7.0 / 7 (least free)
Freedom Rating
72
(0 = Best, 100 = Worst) / 100 (least free)
Internet Freedom
23 million people
Internet:
Not Free
Press:
Not Free
Status
Not Free
Scores Overview
7.0 / 7 (least free)
Freedom Rating
86
(0 = Best, 100 = Worst) / 100 (least free)
Internet Freedom
11 million people
Internet:
Partly Free
Press:
Partly Free
Status
Free
Scores Overview
2.5 / 7 (least free)
Freedom Rating
38
(0 = Best, 100 = Worst) / 100 (least free)
Internet Freedom
8.1 million people
Internet:
Not Free
Press:
Not Free
Status
Not Free
Scores Overview
6.5 / 7 (least free)
Freedom Rating
69
(0 = Best, 100 = Worst) / 100 (least free)
Internet Freedom
26 million people
Press:
Not Free
Status
Not Free
Scores Overview
6.5 / 7 (least free)
Freedom Rating

Programs

Freedom House supports democracy and human rights leaders across the Middle East and North Africa region in exposing human rights abuses and pressing for reform.

Issues: 

The Lifeline Embattled CSO Assistance Fund provides emergency financial assistance to civil society organizations (CSOs) under threat or attack and advocacy support responding to broader threats to civil society. 

Freedom House administers several funds which offer emergency assistance to organizations and individuals around the world who are under threat because of their human rights work.

Freedom House has worked to strengthen freedom of expression and human rights in Tunisia, where the country’s recent efforts at democratic consolidation created opportunities to adopt new laws.