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1. General Background
A- The Significance of
In a report sent to HRINFO, it described itself as “one of the oldest and most important Arabic news websites,” saying it received 15 million visitors per month and had 3 million registered members. The website launched in 1997 and managed to develop a group of applications and services found only in the biggest international portals. developed the first dynamic publishing system in Arabic on the Internet with the first bi-lingual English/Arabic email newsletter. also developed a group of services such as a Web directory, a personalized “My Naseej” page, “Her Naseej,” directed at women, and services such as greeting cards.

B- Editorial Policy: seeks to support Arabs rights to freedom, justice, and equality while preserving moral values. provides a group of information services and new applications that make quite popular among Arabic-speaking online readers.

C- Audience:
Naseej addresses Arab Internet users from around the world.

D- Organization: contains a number of sections: news, sports, “Her Naseej,” and the Naseej Web Directory.

E- Services:
The website provides a number of interactive services to its visitors, including:



Electronic greeting cards


Prayer times

And the ability to personalize what content is displayed

Users may also choose to display content from the directory aimed specifically at women, from Islamic websites, sports websites, online games, sports scores, and a news ticker.

F- Internal Search focuses on searching the Internet more than searching inside the website itself. Visitors to the main page are directed to a Web search. In order to search inside, users must enter through one of the five main portals on Naseej (Islamic Naseej, Naseej News, Naseej Sport, Her Naseej, or the Naseej Directory).

2- Human rights analysis in Naseej
a- Frequency:
The website publishes an average of one article related to human rights every 1.5 days.

b- The media content related to human rights resembles the other sites surveyed in this study in that it favors political coverage over human-rights coverage or advocacy, yet it showed significant interests in the right to freedom and the protection of civilians.

c- Media Content

Naseej’s human-rights-related content focuses on reporting abuses, though in some countries this focus is paired with advocacy or propaganda.

d- Political and Geographic Breakdown:

As with the other sites surveyed, Naseej devoted most of its human-rights coverage to Egypt, Iraq, the United States, and Syria. Coverage of Israeli human-rights abuses also occupied a significant place in Naseej’s coverage.

3 – Content Analysis depended on materials republished from over the course of 2006 yet it seemed that it took an impartial stance by reproducing the news without comment. In terms of news selection, Egypt, Syria, and Tunisia seemed to receive heavy criticism for human-rights abuses, especially with regard to abuses against women, whereas coverage of Saudi Arabia focused more on that country’s putative progress in promoting human rights.

1- Advocacy
Hamid Refai, "Saudi Arabia Doesn’t Need a Preacher"
On 17 December, Naseej reported on Saudi reactions to the US State Department’s annual report on human rights in the country. Naseej bristled at the attention Islamic countries received in the report. That some of the reactions Naseej quoted came from religious organizations spoke to the blurred lines between the Saudi state and religious organizations in that country. The author, Prof. Hamid Rafai, director of the International Islamic Forum for Dialogue, asserted, "Saudi Arabia is a Muslim country that follows the pure Islamic teachings and doesn’t need to consult the Americans for advice on religious matters."

HRINFO also noticed the biased treatment Iran received on the topic of the rights of minorities, particularly Sunni Iranians. Naseej cited an Iranian of Sunni, Arab dissent "who believed that the report reflected a small part of the Iranian reality."

E- The “Four Rights:”

Interest in women's issues superceded interest in minorities' rights, refugees' issues, and the right to privacy.

3. Content Analysis:
Naseej relied on a partnership with to supply its readers with news over the course of 2006. It concentrated on human rights violations in countries like Egypt, Syria, and Tunisia, but its selection of stories painted Saudi Arabia as a country making significant progress toward greater respect for human rights.

On 17 December, Naseej reported on Saudi reactions to the US State Department’s annual report on human rights in the country. Naseej bristled at the attention Islamic countries received in the report. That some of the reactions Naseej quoted came from religious organizations spoke to the blurred lines between the Saudi state and religious organizations in that country. The author, Prof. Hamid Rafai, director of the International Islamic Forum for Dialogue, asserted, "Saudi Arabia is a Muslim country that follows the pure Islamic teachings and doesn’t need to consult the Americans for advice on religious matters."

HRINFO also noticed the biased treatment Iran received on the topic of the rights of minorities, particularly Sunni Iranians. Naseej cited an Iranian of Sunni, Arab dissent "who believed that the report reflected a small part of the Iranian reality."

B-Analysis of Materials Related to the “Four Rights:”
1. Women's rights
Naseej’s coverage of women’s rights emphasized the deleterious effect of occupation on women’s rights. The violence and poverty of occupied Iraq and Palestine have a detrimental effect on women’s status, the site argued. In Iraq, for an instance, women are sold as sex slaves to wealthy Gulf countries, and Iran especially.

In many reports, Naseej presented a positive image of women's participation in the workforce and public life by covering news about Saudi women's membership in the Saudi human rights organizations. This made Saudi Arabia look like a country that achieved progress in empowering women and addressing discrimination against them.

Naseej also took notice when women won international prizes or assumed jobs at the head of human-rights organizations.

The website also discussed such issues as the equality of men and women regarding the right to confer nationality upon her children, Muslim women in the West, and the debate over the veil.

"International Report: Iraqi Girls Sold to Neighboring Countries to Work in Night Clubs"
Naseej reproduced an article by on the sexual exploitation of Iraqi girls because of the US occupation, which has led to such widespread poverty and misery that many Iraqi girls are smuggled into the gulf region and coerced to work as prostitutes. The UN’s Integrated Regional Information Network estimates the number of missing Iraqi women at 3,500. Many of these are believed to be enslaved and sexually exploited.

The article referred to a report issued by an unnamed organization that said that the Emirates are a frequent destination for Iraqi prostitutes. It further accused religious men, particularly in the predominantly Shia, southern provinces of Iraq, of involvement in the trade. Iraqi girls, the article said, are smuggled into Iran under the guise of being sent for religious education in Qom and Tehran.

"Report Warns Against Sex Trade in Qatar"
On 5 March, Naseej reported on the National Qatari Committee for Human Rights’ findings on the sex trade in Qatar and broader inequality between men and women in what career opportunities, wages, incentives and vocational-related privileges were available to them. The report also castigated the Qatari government for laws that allow only fathers to pass nationality to their children. The report emphasized "the hardship housemaids endure, hardship that, compounded with unyielding economic and social conditions, low wages insufficient to provide for a reasonable standard of living, lead some of these women to work as prostitutes when faced with failure to find a job or conduct a required legal transaction."

" Saudi Human-Rights Body Studies Women's Participation in Next Terms"
On 10 November, Naseej discussed the possibility of Saudi women’s participation in the official Saudi human rights body. In a statement HRINFO regards as designed to improve Saudi Arabia’s image, the head of Saudi Arabia’s official human-rights council said that although no women were elected to the council in its first term, women were participating by performing “advisory tasks and conducting a number of psychological and social studies to address violence against women and related issues." He also said, "Women's participation in the next term is being weighed."

"Twenty Incest Cases Before Saudi Human Rights Body"
Naseej reported on findings of the Saudi Society for Human Rights on cases where fathers allegedly raped their young daughters. Dr. Sohyla Zein Abedeen, a member of the society, said her organization was aware of 20 such cases in Saudia Arabia over the past year, but stressed that the crimes often go unreported and that incestuous relations are not a particular phenomenon in the Kingdom.

The report also discussed issues such as alimony, paternal custody, denying mothers and children access to official documents in order to render the woman dependent on her current or divorced husband in order to provide her children and herself with their basic needs.

"Kuwaiti MPs Consider Bestowing Nationality on Arab Muslims Married to Kuwaiti Women and Their Children"
On 8 January ran an article from on the right of children born to a Kuwaiti women to have Kuwaiti nationality. The website didn't comment on the story, or the fact that the proposal would allow women to bestow nationality only if the father was also Arab and Muslim.

"Amina Bo Ayash at the Top of a Human Rights Organization"
On 27 April, Naseej reported that Amina Bo Ayash had become the first female head of the Moroccan Organization for Human Rights—"a precedent in the Arab world," according to Naseej. The article also mentioned reforms to Morocco’s personal status law that gave women greater legal equality in the family and the appointment of female Cabinet ministers as examples of strides Morocco had made with regard to women’s rights in recent years.

"Averroes Organization for Free Thought Presents Annual Award to Sudanese Writer Fatma Ibrahim”
Naseej reported that Sudanese writer Fatma Ahmad Ibrahim had won an annual award from the Berlin-based Averroes Organization for Free Thought and presented a brief biography of the writer, former member of parliament, and veteran human-rights advocate.

" Surprising Female Presence in Prince Klaus Awards"
On 30 October Naseej reported, in glowing terms, on the bestowal of Holland’s “prestigious” Prince Klaus award on three Arab, Muslim women. The Dutch government established the Prince Klaus Fund for Culture and Development in 1996 to facilitate cultural exchange. The organization deals with individuals and organizations from around the world.

"16 Female Ministers of Foreign Affairs Call for Fair Share in the World of Politics"
On 21 June, Naseej reported that 16 female ministers of foreign affairs had gathered in Geneva to call for granting women more of a seat at the table in international politics, particularly as the United Nations chose a successor to Kofi Annan. Naseej noted that all the candidates were all men and that there has never been a female UN secretary general.

“Female Islamic Dress Code Stirs Debate in Germany”
On 25 November Salah Saify, reported that German society discriminates against veiled women, particularly in the job market. He recounted Verschita Luden’s problems. Luden, a Muslim teacher says the state of Baden-Wurttemberg refused to hire her because she refused to remove her veil while working. This stirred a debate in Germany about religious symbols in school. She sued the state, and lost.

Under the subheading, "A Role Model," Saify looked at the case of Sander Heibschour, who became Amina al-Mahdi after she embraced Islam. Al-Mahdi lost her job after her conversion and has reported harassment in the street and on public transportation because of her Islamic dress. The report cited Western, female, human-rights activists who defend Muslim women’s right to wear the veil.

2. Minorites and Tolerance of the Other
Naseej was interested in reports of sex in churches.

"Sexual Perversions Inside Churches"
On 2 December, Naseej published an essay by Abd al-Baki Khalifa, titled "Sexual Perversions Inside Churches." Khalifa catalogued “sexual-perversion scandals” that had implicated “dozens of Catholic priests in the United States and Latin America and the Catholic organization Caritas in Croatia."

Under lurid subheadings such as “Predators: sexual perversions inside monestaries,” “Lost trust in the Church,” and “Sexual perversions prevail in churches,” the essay mentioned a number of sexual violations committed by priests from all around the world against children. There was the case of four nuns accused of sexually assaulting minors in a church and of having sex with a number of young girls. There was the case of allegations made against the organization Caritas that its employees had sexually abused orphaned children, allegations that the article said led many Croatian and Slovenian families to stay away from church. The writer’s intent seemed to be to create a horrible feeling inside the reader's heart against those crimes and the Church in general.

"Morocco Dismisses UN Report on its Human Rights Record in Western Sahara"
Naseej reported on UN criticisms of Morocco’s human-rights record in the disputed Western Sahara region alongside the Moroccan government’s denials and accusations of bias.

"British Worries over Afghan Christian Convert"
On 23 March, Naseej discussed the case of an Afghan man who converted to Christianity, and worries in Britain for his safety.

I- The Danish Cartoon Controversy

"Al-Azhar's Head and Mufti Protest Danish Insults Against the Prophet"
On 8 February, Naseej reported on Egypt’s "official" religious institutions’ condemnation of cartoons depicting the Prophet in a manner many Muslims found offensive. The site reported that 25,000 students had gathered to protest inside al-Azhar, and that "The sheikh of al-Azhar, the mufti, and many al-Azhar professors joined in the protests. Naseej called the such senior religious figures’ participation a strong signal, particularly after opposition newspapers criticized his earlier statement to the Danish ambassador to Egypt as too weak.

“Yemeni Protests Against Insults to the Prophet on the Rise”
On 30 January, Naseej ran a story about the escalation of Yemeni protests against the cartoons calls to boycott Danish goods in Yemen. The story mentioned condemnations of the cartoons from organizations such as the Yemeni Journalists’ Syndicate, Reporters Without Borders, The Committee of Foreign Affairs, The Arab League, The Organization of the Islamic Conference, the Yemeni Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and the Yemeni ruling party, and argued that international human-rights treaties prohibited the cartoon’s publication.

II- The Bedouin
Naseej covered news about Bedouin in Kuwait without approaching the issue from a human-rights perspective or discussing Bedouins’ problems in Saudi Arabia or other Gulf states. Naseej likewise never mentioned the Isamili sect, a religious minority inside Saudi Arabia, in its news coverage.

"Kuwaiti Interior Minister Calls for a Humanitarian Settlement for Bedouin"
On 4 October, Naseej ran a story about statements from the Kuwaiti Ministry of Interior calling for a resolution to the issue of Bedouin, often called “illegal citizens” in Kuwait. Official Kuwaiti sources estimate the number of Bedouins dropped from 200,000 to 100,000 after the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait. Activists told that there were more than 100,000 Kuwaiti Bedouin and that they were suffering and were denied their basic rights to live freely.”

"Kamil Awarded Kuwaiti Nationality"
On 5 November, Naseej reported that the Kuwaiti Council of Ministers had conferred Kuwaiti nationality on referee Saad Kamil, who had represented Kuwait at many international sporting events.

III- Bahais
Naseej took a hostile editorial line toward the Bahai religion and presented the views of those who are calling for its elimination. Naseej highlighted the divergence between Islamic and Bahai beliefs, and alleged that Bahais had Zionist and American connections. Naseej did not defend Bahai’s right to life as citizens in their homeland with the same obligations and rights as other citizens.

"Egyptian court rules out Bahai recognition"
On 17 December, Naseej reported on the Egyptian Supreme Administrative Court’s decision not to require the government to allow Bahais to leave their religion blank on official documents or to fill in “Bahai.”

Naseej looked at the history of the Bahais, and speculated that perhaps the reason for dissolving Bahai organizations was that their head temple is in Israel. Naseej called Bahais “infidels,” because, Naseej wrote, they believe in the divinity of their religion’s founding father.

"Calls to Eliminate Bahai in Egypt"
On 30 July, Naseej reviewed the Egyptian Ministry of Religious Affairs’ book, Bahai: Beliefs and Imperialistic Goals. The book calls for eliminating the estimated 2,000 Bahais from Egypt. The website further editorialized that the ideas of the Bahai religion “deviate from the path of righteousness.”

" Al-Azhar Says No to Bahai"
On 10 April, Naseej recapped al-Azhar’s stance on the Bahais, highlighting the “wide differences” between Islam and the Bahai religion.

" Egyptian Authorities Challenge a Legal Verdict Recognizing Bahais"
On 9 April, Naseej ran a report that connected Bahais with Zionists, gays, the state of Israel, and the US Secretary of State. The report also referred to a statement by the director of the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights which considered the verdict in favor Bahais’ rights (later overturned) as "a true victory for religious freedoms and beliefs as guaranteed by the Egyptian constitution and international treaties on human rights."

"America Urges Iran to Respect Bahais’ Religious Freedoms"
On 29 March, Naseej reported that the United States had urged Iran to respect the rights its of minorities and had expressed worries about "escalating government persecution of 300,000 Iranian Bahais." Naseej’s report did not elaborate report on the violations against Bahais, but noted that Bahais were “an extremist Shia sect that believes in reincarnation, that denies the existence of heaven, hell, angles, and the miracles of the prophets. They also pray toward Akka instead of the holy mosque in Mecca, … and divide the year into 19 months of 19 days."

VI- The Shia
Naseej’s coverage of Shia in Iraq, the Gulf, Lebanon, and Egypt, and cast them as Iranian collaborators.

"Anti-Sahabi Publications Circulated in Egypt and Banned by al-Azhar"
On 5 December, Naseej ran a article on the confiscation of a number of books expressing “the twelver” Shia's religious doctrine. Al-Azhar banned The Epic of Hussein by Mortada Mutahari and Ahl al-Bayt, published by the Hadf House for Media and Publishing.

Naseej concocted a relationship between Egyptian Shia and the Iranian government under the subheading, "Religious leaders welcome Khameni's fatwa," and connected Egypt’s Shia with Bahais by way of an American delegation that had sought to speak with Egyptian officials about the persecution of Shias and Bahais in Egypt.

"Landslide Victory for Shia Opposition in Parliamentary Elections in Bahrain"
On 26 November, Naseej reported that Shia candidates had won 16 seats in parliamentary elections in Bahrain, while the Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated National Islamic Forum won only two seats.

"Angry Bahraini Shia Protests Before Parliamentary Elections"
On 25 November, Naseej reported on “riots and protests” by “young Shia men” in Bahrain on the eve of parliamentary elections. The protests were triggered by statements from the opposition, Shia-affiliated Islamic National Agreement Party’s fears of vote-rigging.

"Bahrainis Protest Massive Naturalization of Foreigners "
On 30 September, Naseej reported that hundreds of Bahrainis had protested the government’s mass naturalization of Sunni foreigners because they believed it was a move to check Shia influence. Naseej reported the government’s denials that this was their motive.

"Jabber Sabbah, a Historic Kuwaiti Prince"
On 15 January, Naseej ran a biography of Kuwaiti Sheikh Jabber Sabbah that drew clear connections between Kuwaiti Shia and Iran and went so far as to call Shia Kuwaitis “politically Iranian.”

3. Refugees
I-Palestinian refugees
The Palestinian cause, in general, and Palestinian refugees, in particular, were among Naseej’s top news priorities. The site provided extensive coverage of the problems Palestinian refugees from Iraq face.

Naseej repeatedly mentioned international treaties and UN resolutions, including Resolution 194 of 1948, granting Palestinians the right of return.

"Waving the Right of Return Violates International Law and Legitimizes the Israeli Policy of Ethnic Cleansing"
Naseej reported that the Palestinian al-Awda Center's had refused to Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's offer to withdraw from parts of the West Bank in return for Palestinians’ waving their right of return. Naseej noted that this would violate international law and would legitimize Israel’s policy of ethnic cleansing and acquit the Israeli government of such “crimes” as its “daily, methodical destruction operations that displace dozens of Palestinians on a daily basis.” Human rights, Naseej concluded, “are not for negotiation or blackmail.”

"Palestinian Writers and Academics Affirm Right of Return According to International Resolutions"
Naseej reproduced a article on the 58th anniversary of UN Resolution 194, which states that Palestinian refuges have the right to return to their homeland and that this right cannot be waived or fall under statutory limitations.

In this context, Naseej covered the Palestinian National Gathering for the Right of Return and a discussion held by the Palestinian Organization for Refugees' Rights in Gaza.

" Palestinian Authorities Call upon the UN to Transfer Palestinians in Iraq to Safe Places"
On 24 December, Naseej ran a story reporting the Palestinian Ministry of Refugee Affairs’ calls to the UN to transfer Palestinian refugees out of Iraq under the auspices of the UN, given their perilous situation and attacks by armed militants who were threatening them with murder and abduction.

The story reported that 350 Palestinian refugees had run away from Iraq to the Tanaf camp on the Syrian side of the border, where they were now living in horrible conditions.

II- Sudanese Asylum-Seekers
Naseej followed the aftermath of a violent government crackdown on Sudanese refugees and asylum-seekers staging a demonstration in Cairo. They continued their daily coverage of the unfolding crisis on a daily basis for a month, then reported on the situation less frequently. The coverage was conducted through reporters or reproduced from

Naseej’s coverage was critical of the Egyptian authorities. Examples of such headlines:

"Sudanese delegation in Cairo calling for refugees investigation"

"Sudanese accuse Egypt of killing 62 refugees"

"Refugees commissioner meets with Sudanese stranded in Cairo"

"Egyptian opposition calls for Minister of Interior’s resignation for death of Sudanese refugees"

"Wide condemnation against police crackdown on Sudanese refugees"
On 1 Jan, Naseej covered the Egyptian police assault on Sudanese refugees gathered in Cairo’s Mostapha Mahmoud Square, and quoted Hafez Abusaada, secretary general of the Egyptian Organization for Human Rights, who called for an international investigation, for Egypt to stop deporting the refugees, and and for the UNHCR to provide them with accommodation. Naseej also quoted Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated member of Parliament Ashraf Badr ad-Din as saying “there was no justification for this kind of violence.” The article also quoted a spokesman for the UNHCR as expressing his "deep sadness for an atrocity that cannot be justified." The report further referred to Human Rights Watch’s calls for an independent and immediate investigation.

" The First Group of Sudanese Refugees Arrive in Khartoum"
On 2 January, Naseej reported that the Sudanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs had welcomed the return of asylum-seekers to Sudan and the firing of an Egyptian security officer for using tear gas, rubber bullets, and live ammunition against the protesters.

III- Yemeni refugees in Syria

"Yemeni Human Rights Organization Urges International Organization to Protect Yemeni Refugees in Syria"
Naseej reproduced a story reporting that a London-based Yemeni human rights organization had called upon the UNHCR to protect Yemeni refugees in Syria from harassment from the Yemeni Embassy in Damascus. Yemeni authorities in Sana had arrested the father of one of the refugees in Syria to coerce the refugee to return to Yemen.

4. Right to Privacy
The right to private life didn't receive any attention on Naseej during the period we monitored its coverage. Searching for certain keywords as “spying” and “eavesdropping” yielded stories about spying on a football team.

Follow-Up with Naseej:
Researchers followed Naseej closely from 21 April through 21 May 2007 and found there had no significant changes since they conducted their research in 2006. Of the subjects they were looking for, human-rights news was still the most common, followed by civilian-protection initiatives, political activism, freedom of speech, and, lastly, freedom from discrimination.

Israel, the United States, Iraq, and Egypt remained the primary focus of human-rights-related stories. Reports of violations dominated Naseej’s human-rights coverage, followed by advocacy, state propaganda, and critiques.

* The website publishes an average of one article related to human rights every 1.5 days, with a strong emphasis on civil and political rights. Its coverage also showed an emphasis on the obligation to protect civilians.

* Naseej’s human-rights reporting focuses mainly on violations. Advocacy and propaganda were presented in more or less equal parts.

* As with the other sites surveyed, Naseej devoted most of its human-rights coverage to Egypt, Iraq, the United States, and Syria. Coverage of Israeli human-rights abuses also occupied a significant place in Naseej’s coverage. By contrast, human-rights-related stories on Naseej presented Saudi Arabia in congratulatory terms.

* Women's issues were more often covered than were issues of minorities and refugees. There was no attention to the right to privacy.

* Throughout 2006, Naseej depended on for its news services, yet it apparently took a more passive stance on some issues. Additionally, Egypt, Syria and Tunisia came in for particular criticism, but Saudi Arabia, suspiciously, was invariably presented in glowing terms.

* Naseej’s coverage of women’s rights focused on how the hardships of occupation damaged women’s rights in Iraq and Palestine. In many reports, Naseej showed a positive image of women's participation in work and public life. One such example, about women’s prospective participation in the official Saudi human rights council, also cast Saudi Arabia in a positive light.

Nassej also covered stories of women achieving international recognition through prizes and prestigious appointments.

*Naseej addressed men and women’s equal, or unequal, status in society through the question of whether a woman can impart nationality on her children. It also discussed the status of Muslim women in the West and the issue of Islamic dress.

*Naseej also discussed the issue of the Bedouins in Kuwait, without discussing the issue from an overt human-rights perspective or pronouncing a stance on the issue. Naseej did not discuss the issue of Bedouins in the rest of the Gulf countries, including Saudi Arabia, nor did it discuss the issue of the Ismaili sect (one of the minority groups residing in the Kingdom).

* Naseej denounced the right of the Bahais to religious freedoms and supported those who call for eradicating the Bahai faith. Naseej also focused on Bahais’ “distortion” of the Islamic teachings and accused them of “transgressing against morals,” and working with Zionists, Imperialists, and gays. Naseej didn't publish any material to support the Bahais’ right to live freely like other citizens.

* On Shia matters, Naseej focused on Iraq, Bahrain, and Lebanon. In one case, Naseej reported on Egyptian Shia. In several instances, Naseej concocted a relationship between Arab Shia and Iran.

* Regarding refugees’ rights, Naseej covered the Palestinian cause in general, and the cause of Palestinian refugees in particular. It also covered the issue of Sudanese asylum-seekers in Cairo, particularly after the violent dispersal of a sit-in protest.

* The right to a private life didn't receive any coverage from Nassej. Searching for keywords such as “spying” and “eavesdropping” yielded only results related to spying on a football team.