Middle East and North Africa | Page 165 | 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

Riot police attempted to stop a demonstration in Amman, Jordan, attacking demonstrators who were advocating for reform. Nearly 2,000 Jordanians were walking from a local mosque to the city hall when police attacked protesters with wooden clubs and batons. Government officials gave journalists orange vests to wear and claimed they would not be harmed. Yet, reporters from Reuters, Al Jazeera, AFP, New York Times and other media outlets were among the 10+ journalists hurt in the protests. The protests were organized by youth groups, and attended by labor unionists and Muslim Brotherhood members.

At least twenty people were killed and more than 100 injured on July 15, as hundreds of thousands of Syrians demonstrated across the country against President Bashar al-Assad and the imprisonment of Syrians. Citizens attempted to block security forces from entering the area and damaging buildings. Forces fired live ammunition and teargas at protesters in the capital of Damascus and various suburbs. Activists organized the countrywide demonstrations via Facebook—these have been the largest demonstrations held to date.

Five activists plead not guilty in an Abu Dhabi trial after criticizing the United Arab Emirates’ government leadership. The five activists: Ahmed Mansour, Nasser bin Ghaith, Fahad Salem Dalk, Hassan Ali al-Khamis and Ahmed Abdul Khaleq signed an online petition calling on United Arab Emirates President Sheikh Khalifa to introduce “direct elections” and give parliament legislative powers, in an effort to promote political and economic reform.

Egyptian military leaders announced July 21 that the Egypt’s ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces wouldprohibit international groups from monitoring the outcome of the upcoming parliamentary elections,a decision nominally intended to prevent international involvement from “interfering with Egypt’s sovereignty.” Only Egyptian nationals would be permitted to act as election observers. The announcement coincided with promulgation of a new electoral law, which formalized selection procedures for the People’s Assembly, the lower house of parliament. The SCAF’s stance on international observers troubles many in the Egyptian NGO community, who worry that the lack of independent monitors will permit authorities to disguise serious electoral flaws.

Pages

Experts

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: 
Research Director, Technology and Democracy

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

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.