Arab leaders see press as “sworn enemy”, Beirut conference hears

Arab leaders all see the press as their “sworn enemy”, according to a leading newspaper editor in the Yemen.

Jamel Amer, editor of Al Wasat, was speaking at a two-day conference organised by the World Association of Newspapers.

He said: “Arab rulers, regardless of their differences, agree on one thing – all of
them consider the Arab press to be their sworn enemy."

Salaheddine El Hafez, vice editor-in-chief of Egypt's Al Ahram newspaper, said: “I am not exaggerating when I say the Arab press is witnessing one of the
worst periods of its life. The margins of freedom for the Arab press is severely limited
and we have evidence of that in our daily lives."

Another leading journalist reported that pressure from the populace – as well as Arab leaders – could place pressure on the press.

Ahmed Benchemsi, publisher and managing editor of Tel Ouel in Morocco, said: “I still self-censor
myself, not because of fear that the state will punish me, but for fear of the reaction on the street.
"I can defy the state. But defying the people – that's quite tougher, when you have thousands of people in the street and they can attack your newspaper."

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