A Blog by the Editor of The Middle East Journal

Putting Middle Eastern Events in Cultural and Historical Context

Monday, January 25, 2010

Wa'el ‘Abbas Threatened with Prison

Blogger/activist Wa'el ‘Abbas is now under threat of prison for an allegedly "non-political" dispute with a neighbor; using alleged violations of obscure laws to silence dissidents is, unfortunately, a rather familiar technique.

Secretary Clinton recently spoke out on Internet freedom; as The Arabist notes, however, citing this report on Arab Crunch, US restrictions have been used to limit open-source software access in countries under US sanctions, sometimes harming dissidents more than governments. Nations are still trying to understand how to regulate (or not regulate) new media, and in general it would seem greater access is normally a good thing. Sanctions that in effect help regimes control their populations unintentionally should be reconsidered.

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