Bahrain is not unique in it’s depressed ranking on the just released RSF Press Freedom Index. Many have suffered greatly depressed rankings due to opportunistic and knee-jerk reaction to malleable definitions of terrorism, readily penalising the press, photojournalists, bloggers and anyone with a dissenting voice.
This year, Middle Eastern countries have further moved down the index and now occupy the bottom of the rankings. This is no surprise, as barely a day goes by without someone somewhere is imprisoned for exercising their freedom of speech. This cause is of course contested locally due to laws which engender and entrench criminality of free speech; hence, those incarcerated are classified as common criminals, rather than prisoners of conscience. The knock-on effects of this repression are manifested in the glaringly slow economies, rising poverty, disenfranchisement of the population, death of the middle class, flight of capital, absence of foreign direct investment all leading to further civil strife in all of these countries.
Optimistically, there is literally no where for these countries to go but up. They can’t possibly fall even further. And what it would take for them to climb the index and allow their citizens to finally live with dignity requires hard work and sacrifices still.
I’m optimistic that political leaderships in the Middle East would now be compelled to act positively. If for nothing else but to improve the economy. The time to start is of course so far gone in history, but starting even now is better than doing nothing at all. Because in 50 years time, the whole Middle East will be destitute and over 500 million people will be seeking refuge in the West and other more verdant countries than the deserts they will want to leave behind.
Here the full RSF Press Freedom Index of 2017.
Here’s a short snapshot of Bahrain’s path so far:
The scale is out of 180 countries ranked.