Abdallah Ibn al-Saud, “servant of the two holy mosques,” became king in August 2005 and is also prime minister. His regime has included both repression and opening-up and he has arrested political activists and journalists but also staged the country’s first municipal elections.
The grip of the Saud family and its Wahabi ideology depends on rigid control of news. No laws protect freedom of expression so journalists dare not criticise the regime and self-censorship is the rule. The fight against terrorism and regional unrest is still used to justify curbing basic freedoms. Visiting foreign journalists are always accompanied by government officials who report back on what they do.
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