The Arab Journalists Union (AJU) on Wednesday declared a “media war” against terrorists and hostile governments in Arab countries.

Yehya Kallash, Head of Egyptian Journalists Union made the declaration on behalf of AJU at a ceremony in Cairo to mark “Arab Day for Free Press”.

He said the decision had become necessary in view of how journalists and media practitioners were losing their lives in the line of duty.

Kallash said journalists and media practitioners had become major targets for terrorists and new regimes in Arab countries for exposing corruption, human rights abuses, tyranny and repression after the Arab uprising and stated the resolve of the Union to fight for the freedom and independence of the media.

He said: “Journalists, their institutions and unions paid significantly, ranging from restrictions on them during work, exposure to violence and physical violations, or arrest and imprisonment, through limitations to the freedom of information, and to express themselves freely…ending by killing and slaughter practiced by some terrorist organisations against them in some Arab countries.”

Kallash said while it was understandable that new regimes had to put security measures in place to ensure stability, it was necessary that they worked with the media to deepen democracy and promote transparency and accountability.

He said the media in Arab countries are prepared to play positive roles in promoting good governance and must be allowed to do so in a safe atmosphere.

“No country can talk about democracy except there is free press and this is what we are calling for,” Kallash said.

He called for support from all Journalists Unions in Arab countries for a united front towards the fight for press freedom.

Abdul Wahab, a Representative from the Jordan Journalists Union said journalists in Jordan, Syria, Libya and Iraq work in “great fear”.

Some participants at the forum complained about the control of the media by businessmen and charged executives of AJU to put their words into action and desist from only the issuance of statements.

Representatives from journalists unions from a few Arab countries were at the forum.

Ghana News Agency