The Comoros has the most free media in the Muslim world and Turkmenistan has the worst, according to Reporters Without Borders (RWB) which evaluates the level of press freedom around the world each year.
The tiny African island nation was ranked 40 out of 180 countries on the list, which was topped by Norway and tailed by North Korea.
But despite coming top of the “Muslim list,” RWB still called the press freedom situation in The Comoros “problematic.”
It said: “Although the 2001 constitution guarantees media freedom, most of the archipelago’s journalists censor themselves in fear of the heavy penalties for defamation. New media outlets have nonetheless surfaced in recent years thanks to donations and local initiatives.
“Journalists suffer above all from a lack of resources and training, and have found it hard to organize themselves. The provision of news and information online has grown recently although Internet access is very due to a lack of infrastructure, frequent power cuts, and high connection costs.”
Meanwhile, the lowest ranked Muslim country was Turkmenistan which came 178th in the list. RWB called the press freedom situation in the country an ever-expanding news “black hole.”
It said: “The Turkmen government controls all media, and the limited number of Internet users are able to access only a highly-censored version of the Internet — but that does not satisfy President Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov, also known as “Father Protector.”
“Harassment of the few journalists who work clandestinely for media outlets based abroad continues to grow. One of them, Saparmamed Nepeskulyev, has languished in prison since July 2015. In recent years, other journalists have been arrested, tortured, physically attacked, or otherwise forced to stop working.
“On the pretext of making cities more visually appealing, the authorities are continuing a campaign of removing satellite dishes, depriving the public of one of the few remaining ways to access uncontrolled news coverage. Promulgated in 2018, the county’s first broadcasting law provides for the possibility of privately-owned TV channels but only on condition that they promote “a positive image of Turkmenistan.”
In general, Muslim nations came out very poorly in the list. Here is a selection of how some major Muslim countries ranked:
Tunisia – 97
Qatar – 125
Pakistan – 139
Bangladesh – 146
Turkey – 157
Egypt – 161
Iran – 164
Saudi Arabia – 169
Syria – 177