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WORLD PRESS FREEDOM DAY EVENTS IN THE MIDDLE EAST AND NORTH AFRICA

New IFEX member Maharat Foundation from Lebanon will be seeking the truth for "the holders of the word and the pen." Together, with Amnesty's regional bureau, Maharat is holding an all-day workshop on 2 May at Monroe Hotel in Beirut to tackle why Lebanon has slipped in world and regional press freedom rankings, the ongoing problem of impunity, and how the courts can help safeguard free expression. Look out for special speakers, including journalist Michel Hajji Georgiou, who has been recognised for his media freedom work, and Gisèle Khoury, the widow of Lebanese journalist Samir Kassir. Kassir was assassinated in 2005 by unknown assailants for criticising Syria's policy towards Lebanon. Email: info (@) maharatfoundation (.) org, and visit: http://www.maharatfoundation.org/

Here's how Egypt plans to celebrate World Press Freedom Day this year: four editors of independent papers who defamed President Hosni Mubarak and other high officials are going to court to appeal their one-year prison sentences. One of them, Ibrahim Issa, gets to return to court on 18 May to see if his six-month jail term for raising questions about the health of Mubarak will be lifted. So IFEX members the Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (HRInfo), the Egyptian Organization for Human Rights (EOHR) and the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies (CIHRS) are planning a solidarity event in Cairo on 17 May, which hopefully the editors will be free to attend. Contact: eohr (@) eohr (.) org

A day after World Press Freedom Day and to coincide with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak's 80th birthday, Internet activists, bloggers and cyber-dissidents are all going on a national strike - in no small part against the authorities' detention of journalists and bloggers following protests around soaring food prices. See HRInfo: http://www.hrinfo.net/en/reports/2008/pr0426.shtml

What strategy should we use to deal with attacks against the press in North Africa? Find out at a two-day conference at Hôtel Barceló in Casablanca starting on 2 May. Organised by members of the Working Group on Press Freedom and Free Expression in North Africa (WGFENA), the World Association of Newspapers (WAN) and French-Moroccan weekly magazine "TelQuel", the conference will debate the state of press freedom in Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Mauritania, Egypt and Libya. Who better to talk than some of the most recognised - and victimised - free expression defenders: Mohamed Abbou, Sihem Bensedrine, Mohamed Benchicou, Wael Abbas, to name just a few. Contact: pressday (.) casa (@) gmail (.) com

Other IFEX member events:

- Bahrain's last parliamentary elections raised suspicions about the fairness and credibility of the country's media coverage. Read what needs to be done in the Bahrain Center for Human Rights' report, "A Call to Reform the Media in Bahrain": http://www.ifex.org/en/content/view/full/93322/

- Free expression has deteriorated in the past year in Tunisia, says the Observatory for the Freedom of Press, Publishing and Creation (OLPEC), noting that journalist Slim Boukhdhir has been in jail since last November and websites like OLPEC's are still blocked. For OLPEC's statement, contact: postmaster (@) observatoire-olpec (.) org or visit: http://campaigns.ifex.org/tmg/

Other events:

- Journalistic Freedoms Observatory, a free expression group on the ground in Iraq, counted 197 violations against the press from last 3 May to this year's World Press Freedom Day. That's one violation every 43 hours, and a 60 percent increase over the same period last year. Contact: info (@) jfoiraq (.) org

(updated 6 May 2008)

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