Why Most Arab Rulers Detest Free SpeechArab rulers across the Middle East detest free speech. The demand that Al- Jazeera close its operations is no surprise. Al-Jazeera (which means the island) offers talk shows, documentaries, and news in Arabic, the language of the region that reaches more than 350 million Arabic-speaking people from Mauritania to Yemen. Headquartered in Doha, Qatar, a native Arab land, Al-Jazeera has adopted an iconoclastic motto “opinion and the other opinion.”
For most Arab rulers, there is always only one opinion, the opinion of the government, and for them all other opinions are false, alien, and subversive. This commentary analyzes why Arab rulers are hostile to free speech, particularly the home-grown free speech, emanating from within the region, in Arabic dialects and metaphors, by Arab intellectuals, analysts, and critics.
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