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Thursday, March 31 • 10:30am - 11:45am
Toeing the line – ineffective and unjust national security strategies in MENA

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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:

1. Where should governments draw the line in respect to securing respective borders and respecting free flow of information?
2. How can governments effectively fight online recruitment to fundamentalist organizations whilst respecting human rights online such as freedom of expression and privacy?
3. As digital rights advocates, is it even worth looking at the laws individuals are prosecuted under when it comes to “national security”?

Speakers
avatar for Jessica Dheere

Jessica Dheere

Founder/Director, Social Media Exchange
I'm the co-founder and executive director of Social Media Exchange (smex.org), a Beirut–based NGO that since 2008 has been a pioneer in digital journalism, digital advocacy, and digital rights in Lebanon and the Arab region.
avatar for Wafa Ben Hassine

Wafa Ben Hassine

Electronic Frontier Foundation
Wafa Ben Hassine is an Open Technology Fund Fellow working with EFF's international team to research counterterrorism and cybercrime legislation in select Arab countries — Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Tunisia — and how they are used to target human rights defenders and stifle the free expression of regular end users.
avatar for Amin Jobran

Amin Jobran

Outreach Manager - MENA, ASL19
Community coordinator at ASL19 for MENA region (especially Arabic speaking countries) I deal with tool localization, Outreach, and user support. I enjoy neutralizing any content blocking efforts by governments and telecoms.
avatar for Elsa Saade

Elsa Saade

Human Rights Officer - Capacity Building, Advocacy, Research, Gulf Center for Human Rights
avatar for Sana Saleem

Sana Saleem

Director, Bolo Bhi
Co-founder and Director of Bolo Bhi. I am reelance journalist, researcher, rights advocate and public policy consultant. I have written for Dawn, The Guardian and have been writing for Global Voices for the past five years, where I currently work as Editor for Pakistan. In 2012, I was listed among Foreign Policy’s Top 100 Global Thinkers for her work on free speech and was recognized for my work on #BBC100 women of 2014. I am also on the... Read More →


Thursday March 31, 2016 10:30am - 11:45am
The Slate

Attendees (38)