Freedon of Internet speech? Not in Lebanon…

Lebanon is cracking down on Internet freedom, according to a story in the New York Times.

Apparently, two military officers came for a blogger one midnight in March, shortly after he had written articles critical of the president and the army. The blogger was to report for questioning the following morning — “and it was not a request,” the story says.

The blogger was in Lebanon, a country widely seen as the freest in the region, the story says. I feel sorry for the rest of the Middle Easterners if that is truly the case.

The 24-year-old blogger and journalist was held in detention more than eight hours and threatened with prosecution unless he stuck to writing poetry rather than politics.

Reporters Without Borders — which takes restrictions on Internet freedom into account — reported that in 2010, Lebanon ranked above every country in the Arab world, in addition to Israel and Iran. Yet its ranking dropped 17 places from 2009. Apparently, the most dangerous topics to speak of online are the army, the president, in-depth discussions of the 1975-1990 civil war and subjects that could give religious offense.

Some government members tried to push through a law governing electronic transactions. But a June vote on the proposed law was delayed due to successful efforts by an opposition group.

Other Middle Eastern states including Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Syria and Iran are listed as “Internet enemies” by Reporters Without Borders.

Makes you really glad to be an American, doesn’t it?

Read the entire story here: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/11/04/world/middleeast/04iht-m04m1leblog.html?ref=middleeast

By Felicia Dechter

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