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Terrorism and authoritarianism: lessons from the Middle East region

Al-Ghazzi, Omar (2017) Terrorism and authoritarianism: lessons from the Middle East region. The Centre for Freedom of the Media Blog (08 May 2017). Blog Entry.

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Abstract

With recurrent terrorist attacks in Europe, it has sadly become commonplace for political figures to repeat the defiant statement “we won’t let terrorists change our way of life”. In addition to the violence and suffering these attacks inflict on innocent people, the aim of terrorist organizations, such as the Islamic State (IS) group, is to intensify public anxiety over security and to facilitate panicky security-minded government reactions. With this in mind, I want in this blog post to discuss how in the Middle East region, the fateful fight against terrorism and fears over instability, have been used to justify crackdowns on freedom of expression. While this may be regarded as a typical feature of authoritarian regions, in fact the phenomenon of governments channelling public fears over terrorist violence to serve their own interests can occur, as history shows, in any part of the world. I suggest there are important lessons to learn from the Middle East region about how governments seek popular support for crackdowns on media freedom, with damaging long-term consequences. No region has suffered from the impact of terrorism and other brutal forms of violence against civilian populations as much as the Middle East. And nowhere else have fears of random violence and insecurity been used so effectively by governments to limit freedom of expression. I aim to demonstrate that government reactions to terrorism can easily go down an authoritarian path as they take advantage of a public mandate to deal with threats to collective security and stability. The threat of instability is an authoritarian’s favourite route to increased power.

Item Type: Website (Blog Entry)
Official URL: http://www.cfom.org.uk/
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HE Transportation and Communications
P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General) > PN1990 Broadcasting
Sets: Departments > Media and Communications
Date Deposited: 24 Aug 2017 12:21
Last Modified: 20 Nov 2017 09:50
URI: http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/id/eprint/84111

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