CPJ Blog

Press Freedom News and Views

Kamel Labidi

Kamel Labidi is a freelance journalist and former CPJ representative and consultant for the Middle East and North Africa region. Labidi returned from exile to Tunisia in 2011 to head the National Commission to Reform Information and Communication. He resigned in 2012 to protest the lack of political will of the Islamist-led government to implement the commission’s recommendations.

Blog   |   Tunisia

Circle of media repression widens over Tunisia’s history

A barman in a coffeehouse in Tunis switches out the official photo of former Tunisian President Habib Bourguiba, right, to one of Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, after a bloodless coup in 1987. (AP/Laurent Rebours)
The escalating attacks on critical journalists in Tunisia are unprecedented since the establishment of the first Arab-language newspaper in the North African country, 150 years ago this July.

Blog   |   Morocco

Morocco declares itself 'democratic' while restricting media

The Moroccan government has stipulated that all TV networks, “whether Arab or foreign," now require authorization to do TV reporting outside the capital. (Reuters)While high-ranking Arab officials are not held accountable for misinforming or misleading the public, critical journalists in their respective countries are increasingly dragged into courts and handed harsh jail sentences following unfair trials for “spreading false news.”

Blog   |   CPJ, Tunisia

Tunisian airport officials confiscate CPJ publications

On SaturdayTunis airport customs officials confiscated two copies of CPJ’s annual report, Attacks on the Press, as well as five copies of the Arabic-language translation of the Middle East and North Africa section of the book from Tunisian rights lawyer Mohamed Abbou and journalist Lotfi Hidouri on their return from Morocco, the two men told CPJ. 

Blog   |   Morocco

CPJ trip to Morocco reveals gap between rhetoric and reality

At the Casablanca Appeals Court, left to right: Driss Chahtan's lawyer, Said Ben Hommani; Al-Mishaa's Mustapha Rayhan; Kamel Labidi; Al-Mishaal's Hassan Ain al-Hayat; Chahtan's wife, Sihem, and daughter, Saberina. (CPJ)

Two weeks ago, Mohamed Abdel Dayem, CPJ’s Middle East and North Africa Program Coordinator, and I were in Morocco to hold meetings with government officials as well as journalists. In some ways the trip was a success, but in other ways it left much to be desired from a country that claims to be “at the forefront of liberalization in the region,” to borrow language used by Morocco’s Communication Minister Khalid Naciri in his meeting with CPJ on February 19.

March 3, 2010 5:33 PM ET

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Blog   |   Yemen

Saleh uses security as cover to quash press freedom

Yemeni Foreign Minister Abu Bakr al-Qirbi, left, and British Foreign Secretary David Miliband at last week's conference in London. (Reuters/Ben Stansal)Ministers and officials representing some 20 Western and Arab governments and international financial institutions declared themselves “friends of Yemen” during last week’s closed-door meeting in London to address threats posed by Al-Qaeda in Yemen, according to news reports. Participants, including U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, offered assurances that the international community, in addition to providing military cooperation, would work with the Yemeni government to promote human rights and build democratic institutions. But skeptics fear this publicized “friendship” will also provide an opportunity for President Ali Abdullah Saleh to intensify his attacks on political dissent and independent journalism.

February 1, 2010 1:54 PM ET

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Blog   |   Tunisia

Ben Brik, still jailed in Tunisia: 'Chains will certainly break!'

Ben Brik, center, after ending a six-week hunger strike to protest Tunisia's human rights record in 2000. (AFP)

“When people want to live, destiny must surely respond. Darknesss will disappear, chains will certainly break!”


Journalist Taoufik Ben Brik, 49, spurred admiration among his relatives and lawyers at a Tunis appeals court on Saturday when he chanted these two verses by Abou El Kacem Chebbi, Tunisia's most well-known poet. This unexpected recitation of Chebbi's verses, which galvanized resistance to French occupation and autocratic rule after the country's independence in 1956, followed the persecuted journalist’s first remarks in court about his ordeal since his incarceration on October 29. It was the first time he had been allowed to speak at his own hearing.