Tyrants who care about the planet

National Geographic will begin publishing an Arabic edition in October, with distribution covering 15 countries — including Libya.

According to Menassat, a Beirut-based organization that focuses on press freedom in the Arabic-speaking world:

Muammar al-Gaddafi, who spearheaded a coup in Libya in 1969 — and who has controlled the country ever since.

Libya has one of the worst press freedom records in the Arab world. Reporters without Borders classifies the press situation in Libya country [sic] as a “very serious situation” – the bleakest category in their classification. It occupies rank 152 out of 168 in their Index of Press Freedom. … The World Press Freedom Review by the International Press Institute notes that Libya is “home to one of the world’s worst human rights regimes and, wholly devoid of any independent media; indeed, it is consistently referred to as having one of the worst press freedom environments.” Furthermore, the report states that “journalists are not free to express criticism of the state, the political system or the country’s leader and many sensitive topics, such as the plight of the Berber minority or high-level corruption are considered off-limits.” According to the Committee to Protect Journalists Libya belongs to the ten most censored countries in the world. The Freedom House report on Freedom of the Press states that “Libyan journalists continue to operate under some of the most restrictive laws in the world and in an extremely repressive climate. Press freedom, like all other public political activity, is illegal, and harsh laws impose life imprisonment and even death sentences on those who dare cross the regime. A public opponent can face a firing squad if he commits vaguely defined violations such as tarnishing Libya’s image abroad or disseminating information that opposes the principles of the constitution.”

What is it about today’s National Geographic which enables it to receive such a warm welcome by Colonel Gaddafi, Libya’s Brotherly Leader and Guide of the Revolution?

How did a magazine that in 1976 published a feature story called Thomas Jefferson: Architect of Freedom end up in this despotic neighborhood?

And perhaps most important: What has our Society sacrificed or changed in recent years to pass muster with “one of the world’s worst human rights regimes”?

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≡  photo of Colonel Gaddafi via Wikipedia

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