Al-Hayat Daily Journalist: No Press Freedom in the Arab World
There is no press freedom or freedom of speech and expression in the Arab world, particularly in the Persian Gulf Arab states.
Stating the above to reporters on the sidelines of the 22nd International Press Show in Tehran on Monday, M. Saleh Sedghian, a Tehran-based journalist for Al-Hayat Daily, said most of those who work for radio stations, TV news networks or newspapers in this particular region come from Palestine, Lebanon and Egypt. “For the same reason, these pen pushers cannot practice their rights to freedom of expression; those who do usually lose their jobs and have to leave the host country,” he added.
The Iraqi journalist went on to explain that in Egypt there was some kind of press freedom before the revolution, but that also changed when the new government came to power.
“In the Arab world in general,” he said, “journalists never claim that there is press freedom or that they are free to say what they believe is right. They cannot cross the red lines, such as criticising the Saudi government’s policies in the twin wars in Syria and Yemen. They also have no right to defend the Axis of Resistance in Lebanon and Palestine.”
According to Sedghian, to stay in the game, there is cut-throat competition and self-censorship in the industry. “In many cases, intelligence agents oversee all materials before getting published or broadcast. So the hands of journalists are always tied. That's one of the reasons why Al-Hayat decided to relocate to London in order to enjoy greater freedom and professionalism.”
Elsewhere in his remarks, the Al-Hayat Daily journalist regretted that there are no influential Arabic language dailies published in Iran, adding that “even well-established papers such as Kayhan Arabic and Al-Vefaq are unable to effectively outline the views or send the message of the Islamic Republic to the Arab world.”
He said the same problem exists in the Arabic language radio and TV channels, like Al-Alam and Al-Kothar. “Rossiya Al-Youm has done a much better job than them in such a short period of time.”
He criticised these news channels as well, arguing that their programs don't have many audiences in the Arab world, which comes as a direct result of mismanagement and old-fashioned business practices.
In conclusion, Sedghian said Arabic language dailies published in Iran have no choice but to go online. This way they can quickly reach a wider audience the world over.
Al-Hayat is one of the leading daily pan-Arab newspapers, with a circulation estimated over 200,000 in five continents. It is the newspaper of record for the Arab diaspora and the preferred venue for liberal intellectuals who wish to express their views on current affairs.