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According to the latest world freedom report released by US-based Freedom House, most of the Middle East countries are “Not Free.”
January 13, 2010 1:32 by Aarti Nagraj
The Middle East is the “most repressive region in the world,” according to the latest ‘Freedom in the World’ survey of global political rights and civil liberties released by US-based Freedom House. According to the survey, 2009 was the fourth consecutive year in which level of global freedom declined. This is “the longest consecutive period of setbacks for freedom in the nearly 40-year history of the report,” Freedom House said.
According to the report, while 89 out of 194 countries are considered “Free,” 58 are “Partly Free,” and 47 are “Not Free.”
The report classifies a “Free” country as one where there is “broad scope for open political competition, a climate of respect for civil liberties, significant independent civic life, and independent media.”
Partly Free countries have “some restrictions on political rights and civil liberties,” such as corruption, ethnic strife, or civil war. A Not Free country is one where “basic political rights are absent, and basic civil liberties are widely and systematically denied,” says the report.
The report says that the condition in the Arab region has deteriorated, with three countries from the region-Jordan, Bahrain, and Yemen moving from Partly Free (in 2008), to Not Free this year.
According to the report, all the GCC countries except Kuwait-which is partly free – are not free. In fact, Israel is the only country in the entire Middle East region that Freedom House categorized as free.
“Jordan suffered a decline in political rights due to the king’s decision to dissolve the parliament and postpone elections. In Bahrain, political rights suffered as a result of the harassment of opposition political figures and discrimination by the minority Sunni elite against the Shiite majority. Yemen’s political rights rating declined due to rapidly deteriorating security conditions and the increased marginalization of the parliament and other political institutions,” it says.