World Press Freedom Day 2008

I celebrate myself, and sing myself,
And what I assume you shall assume,
For every atom belonging to me as good belongs to you.
– Walt Whitman

Well today is World Press Freedom Day, and there’s not much for me to say that hasn’t already been said on the Black Iris before. So I will spare everyone the redundancy.

Perhaps, despite all the setbacks this past year, and all the jailings and sentences and double-talk, there is still relatively higher freedom of speech in the country than before. In the context of a decade or two, that is something that is surely undebatable. But someone cleverly said during a recent conversation that one of the main problems is not the state but rather the people. We have been raised with a “self-censorship chip” and that has become a problem. It strikes at the heart of the courage that is required to push the borders of free speech in the country. It’s ingrained in all of us, and few are willing to test the waters. Whether you’re a writer or a journalist or just a civilian, we are all guilty of self-censorship and at times, we do take it too far and allow the fear of the state take over. Whether that fear is justifiable or not is another topic of discussion, but irregardless, few are testing the waters that allow us to determine just how expandable and flexible the borders have become. Our fear of the state, specifically in Jordan, is simply too overwhelming compared to other Arab nations who have less freedom of speech, greater state-control and state-action, yet greater activists willing to dip their feet in the pool as well.

So on this day, of all days, perhaps that is one thought worth thinking about.


  • I agree on the self censorship point, but if you take a look at how previous cases-when someone said something that angered someone- were handled you will know why. We should stop blaming ourselevs and look for solutions. What about the laws that strict the freedom? You can’t ask people to be proactive when the outcome of their action resides in gafagfa or el mwaggar!

    And reflecting on your previous post, when you have a propagandanist press machine that always palys the pictures of destruction and sectarianism wether it is in iraq or palastine, then compares us to syria and saudi arabia, what do you really expect from the people? When you have most of the local papers and many journalists launching a huge campaing against the danish cartoonists and even putting them to trial in jordan while ignoring all the elephants we have in our own room! What do we expect? When you have the editor in chief of Al-rai news paper becoming the syndicate leader, do we really need to expect anything new?

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