Saturday, April 29, 2017

Islamist threats and violence against press freedom


Bangladesh has slipped two notches in the World Press Freedom Index 2017 and has ranked 146th among 180 countries in terms of press freedom.
The Bangladeshi government does not take kindly to criticism of its Constitution or its state religion, Islam. Journalists and bloggers who resist censorship or self-censorship on these subjects risk life imprisonment, the death penalty, or murder by Islamist militants, who often issue online calls for the deaths of outspoken secularist bloggers and writers.
There is real pluralism, but media self-censorship is growing as a result of the endemic violence against journalists and media outlets, and the systematic impunity enjoyed by those responsible. In 2016, the government took a tougher line towards its critics and the media in general.

This was made clear by official statements expressing hostility towards the media, the blocking of dozens of websites, and the many lawsuits brought against journalists by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s Awami League.