The Struggle for Independent Media and Freedom of Expression in Bahrain


Nada Alwadi
Bahrain Press Association

Delphine Hagland
Reporters Without Borders

Adel Iskandar
Georgetown University

Moderated by:

David E. Lowe
National Endowment for Democracy

Tuesday, June 11, 2013
10:00-11:30 a.m.

Since the March 2011 Arab Spring revolutions, protests have swept Bahrain, causing a significant decline in freedom of expression. This resulted in an increase of threats against media professionals, mass dismissals of journalists from the country, and rising levels of government control over the media. According to Reporters Without Borders, the government regularly obstructs the work of journalists and refuses to license independent television and radio channels, making it nearly impossible for independent media to function. The Bahrain Press Association’s 2012 Annual Report, Silence is a War Crime, looks at the many struggles for independent media and freedom of expression in Bahrain. Panelists discussed the overall media landscape in Bahrain, examined the government’s control of the media, and provided recommendations for improving the situation for independent media in Bahrain.

About the Speakers:

Nada Alwadi is a Bahraini journalist, writer, and researcher. She has been working in print media since 2003 covering politics and human rights issues in Bahrain and elsewhere in the Middle East.She was a Humphrey/Fulbright fellow at the University of Maryland’s school of journalism. Alwadi covered the recent crackdown in Bahrain for several international media outlets including USA Today. In 2011, she was one of the recipients for the first James Lawson Award for Nonviolent Achievement by the International Center on Nonviolent Conflict.Alwadi co-founded the Bahraini Press Association with other prominent Bahraini journalists last year. This association focuses on defending local and international journalists who have been attacked or targeted by the Bahraini authorities. She holds a master’s degree in mass communication with an emphasis on women’s political empowerment in the media.

Delphine Halgand is the director of the Washington, DC, office for Reporters Without Borders (RSF in its French initials), where she runs the U.S. activities for the organization and advocates for journalists and bloggers and media rights worldwide. Acting as RSF’s spokesperson in the United States, Halgand regularly appears in American and foreign media and lectures at conferences at U.S. universities on press freedom violations. She previously served as press attaché in charge of outreach at the French Embassy to the United States. Since graduating from Sciences Po Paris with an MA degree in journalism, Halgand has worked as an economics correspondent for various French media, focusing mainly on international politics and macroeconomic issues.

Adel Iskandar is a scholar of Arab studies whose research focuses on media and communication. His work also deals with identity and politics, and he has lectured extensively on these topics at universities worldwide. His forthcoming research focuses on the role of new media in the Arab world and an international study of memes. Iskandar, a co-editor of Jadaliyya, teaches at the Center for Contemporary Arab Studies and the Communication, Culture and Technology program at Georgetown University in Washington, DC.

About the Moderator:

David E. Lowe is the vice president for government relations and public affairs at the National Endowment for Democracy.  In this capacity he heads the office responsible for outreach to Capitol Hill, the Endowment’s government and media relations, and the operation of the World Movement for Democracy and the Center for International Media Assistance. Lowe joined the NED in 1989, having served previously as an official in the national office of the Anti-Defamation League and a member of the political science faculty at Drew University. At Drew, he served as director of the university’s off-campus programs in Washington and London. While in the latter role, he was a frequent speaker for the U.S. Information Agency in Europe and the United Kingdom. Lowe holds MA and PhD degrees from Johns Hopkins and a BA degree from Brandeis. He has been an adjunct faculty member at George Washington University’s Graduate School of Political Management and teaches a course for the Washington Semester program of Lewis and Clark College.