Toeing the line – ineffective and unjust national security strategies in MENA

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Session Description

This panel will discuss the continuous strains put on information flow in the Middle East and North Africa region by governments to purportedly fight the threat of terrorism. Governments are increasingly cracking down on human rights advocates, lawyers, and journalists, under the guise of protecting national security. For example, in November 2015, Egyptian journalist Hossam Bahgat was detained and interrogated after writing and publishing online a report describing criminal convictions against 26 military officers for plotting a coup. He was charged with publishing false news “harmful to national security” – a crime that can be punished with a jail sentence under the new counterterrorism law passed in July 2015. In December 2015, Saudi Arabia sentenced Palestinian poet Ashraf Fayadh to death for blasphemy after he published a poem likening Saudi Arabia to Daesh.

This panel will shed light on new tactics used by MENA governments in targeting users as well as highlight how these tactics have changed since the Arab uprisings in 2010-11. The panel will also take into account the attacks in Tunisia in June 2015 the refugee crisis in Syria and Iraq. Panel participants will interact in this discussion through answering important and timely questions, such as:

– Where should governments draw the line in re: to securing borders and respecting free flow of information?

– How can governments effectively fight online recruitment to fundamentalist organizations while respecting human rights online such as freedom of expression and privacy?

– As digital rights advocates, is it even worth looking at the laws individuals are prosecuted under when it comes to “national security”?

Toeing the line – ineffective and unjust national security strategies in MENA

Mohamad Tarakiyee, JOSA || Mohamad Najem, SMEX || Wafa Ben Hassine, EFF

Bio/s Wafa Ben Hassine is an Open Technology Fund Fellow working with EFF's international team to research counterterrorism and cybercrime laws in select Arab countries—Tunisia, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and Egypt—and their impact on various human rights online such as privacy and free expression.
Language English

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