Censorship is a topic that has always interested me greatly, and the use of censorship to monitor and contain the transfer of information is one topic I feel very passionate about. Imagination of a 1984 inspired version of public thought suppression has led me to research this area in the past, and has tonight led me to wonder what censorship is like in the Middle East. What I learned shocked me. The majority of the nations in the Middle East censor their media, including Bahrain, Egypt, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, and Turkmenistan, and do so almost blatantly. Some of these nations outright block internet activities most often because of “morality” or “national security”, and some others prefer to closely monitor online activities and then detain those who are determined deviants. In 2012, Iranian blogger Sattar Besheti was arrested and killed under torture while within Iran’s Cyber Police detainment in regards to online media use. With incidents like this it makes one question what the true goals of these states are. It is my belief that this censorship is not done to protect it’s citizens morality or it’s nations security, but rather to limit the knowledge their citizens have access to as to preserve their own power.
Another thing that really shocked me was how many of these citizens are in favor of government censorship of their media. An average of 70 percent of people living in Arab countries reported that they are in favor of the censoring of entertainment programs. This confused me – why would so many people be in favor of their information being censored? A little digging and consideration showed me the answer – fear. Many of these citizens are genuinely afraid that certain media could have malicious affects on their morality or their position in their religion, and therefore are fine with their government’s censoring.
One thing I wish the first study would’ve explored is what exactly respondents would characterize as “offensive” content, but this begins to paint a picture. I suppose this may be a matter of perspective. I’ve grown to seek truth and information in my life, and would be abhorred by the idea of my access to information being angled or manipulated. But I have been raised with an allowance to explore any knowledge I desire, and without the fear of consequence for this that many others unfortunately have. This brought on a sort of thoughts I hadn’t considered. If a group of people would prefer to have their government censor their media, is it then the correct thing to do? Or do people have an intrinsic right to access to information? I believe I personally lean more to the latter, but this question has no easy answer.