Last Updated: Thursday, 30 October 2014, 14:31 GMT

Predators of Press Freedom: Saudi Arabia - King Abdallah Ibn Al-Saud

Publisher Reporters Without Borders
Publication Date 3 May 2011
Cite as Reporters Without Borders, Predators of Press Freedom: Saudi Arabia - King Abdallah Ibn Al-Saud, 3 May 2011, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/4dc2b5262e.html [accessed 30 October 2014]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

King Abdallah Ibn Al-Saud, Saudi Arabia

The country's sixth king, Abdallah ibn Abdulaziz Al-Saud, came to the throne in August 2005 and his regime has alternated between repression and openness. Political activists and journalists have been arrested but the country's first local elections have been hleld. The royal family's hold on the state and the supremacy of its Wahabi ideology is based on total control of news. No laws protect freedom of expression so journalists dare not criticise the regime and self-censorship is the rule. Stability-threatening regional unrest and the fight against terrorism continue to be used to justify curbing basic freedoms. Visiting foreign journalists are always accompanied by government officials who report back on what they do.

Since the start of the Middle East uprisings, including demonstrations in neighbouring Bahrain, the government has been very careful not to allow such protests to develop in Saudi Arabia. Access to Saudi websites that sprung up during the Tunisian and Egyptian revolutions calling for reforms (http://dawlaty.info/ and http://www.saudireform.com/) were blocked, along with a Facebook page, "Revolutionary Nostalgia," which also urges reform. Foreign journalists were also banned from covering protests in the eastern part of the country and a BBC crew was stopped in March from reporting on unrest in Hofuf. The Reuters correspondent had his accreditation withdrawn on 15 March after he filed a report on a protest that the regime considered inaccurate. Saudi Arabia is one the world's most repressive countries towards the Internet. New restrictions came into force on 1 January 2011, adding to laws passed in 2007. More than 400,000 websites are currently blocked. Far from trying to hide what they are doing, the Saudi authorities defend their censorship as being necessary to maintain social order.

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