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Arabic press review: Tunisia calls in journalists for questioning 

Meanwhile, concern at record prisoners in Morocco, UN envoy urges double track for Syria resolution, and Qatar's FDI reaches $30bn
Tunisian journalists protest in front of the prime minister's office in the capital, Tunis, over freedom of expression and persecution of journalists, on 16 February 2023 (AFP)

Tunisian journalists face investigation

Two journalists in Tunisia have been summoned by the security forces for investigation following a complaint filed against them regarding their work, the London-based Al-Araby Al-Jadeed newspaper reported. 

Prosecutors in Tunisia have launched an investigation into the complaint against Elias al-Gharbi and Haitham al-Maki, both journalists from Mosaique FM radio, according to their lawyer, Dalila Msadek.

The journalists were called in for questioning in connection with their political radio programme, Midi Show, which aired on Monday. The programme featured criticism of the appointment process within the Tunisian police force.

Journalists Monia al-Arfawi and Mohamed Bouglab are also expected to be questioned next week following a complaint filed against them by the religious affairs minister, Ibrahim Al-Shaibi, Al-Araby Al-Jadeed reported.

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Walid al-Hamraoui, a journalist at Tunisian Television, was similarly summoned for questioning recently due to the content of his work, which allegedly contained "illegal transgressions".

Amin al-Dabaybi, a journalist at Mad Radio, was also summoned this week in response to a complaint filed against him by the religious affairs minister.

The pressure on Tunisian journalists is increasing, with Mohamed Yassin Jelassi, the head of the National Syndicate of Tunisian Journalists, stating that these actions represent a "policy of intimidation aimed at hindering their journalistic responsibilities and preventing Tunisian citizens from accessing information", according to Al-Araby Al-Jadeed.

Morocco's record prisoner count a concern

Morocco has seen a significant surge in its prisoner population, reaching a record of 97,204 in 2022, according to a government report published by Al-Quds Al-Arabi newspaper.

The General Delegation for Prison Administration and Reintegration issued an official report, expressing its deep concern over the approximately 10 percent increase in the number of prisoners in just one year. This rise has prompted authorities to closely examine the situation.

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Projections from the report suggest that the prisoner population in Morocco could reach 100,000 by 2026, representing a potential 7 percent increase between 2022 and 2026. It indicates that the number of remand prisoners could surpass 40,000.

The report said more than 116,000 new prisoners were admitted to Moroccan prisons in 2022. Males accounted for 96 percent of the new admissions, females 4 percent, and minors 3 percent. Prisoners aged over 60 accounted for 2 percent of the population.

The detention rate in the country stood at 251 prisoners per 100,000 inhabitants.

The majority of convicted prisoners received short-term sentences of two years or less, comprising nearly 50 percent of all convicts. Prisoners serving life sentences or facing the death penalty made up less than 1 percent of the total number of convicted individuals. 

UN envoy: Syria needs double track for peace

The UN envoy to Syria, Geir Pedersen, has said that Damascus is at a crucial turning point and must seize this opportunity to progress towards a resolution, according to an exclusive interview with the Saudi newspaper Al-Sharq Al-Awsat.

The timing of the interview coincides with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's visit to the Saudi city of Jeddah to attend the Arab League summit hosted by Saudi Arabia. This marks Assad's first visit to Saudi Arabia in 13 years and his first participation in an Arab summit conference in over a decade, since the events in early 2021 leading to civil war in Syria.

Pedersen emphasised that all nations support a "step-by-step" approach, which involves all parties taking "parallel, reciprocal, and verifiable" actions on various issues, such as detainees, the repatriation of refugees, and sanctions.

The UN envoy commended the "Arab initiative" towards Damascus and stressed the importance of aligning this initiative with the "Moscow track", which includes Russia, Iran, Turkey and Syria, as well as considering the perspectives of the United States and Europe. Such collaboration is vital to advance the search for a political solution to the Syrian crisis, he said.

Qatar's FDI reached $30bn in 2022

Qatar attracted $30bn in foreign direct investment (FDI) in 2022, according to the Doha Investment Promotion Agency, The New Gulf website reported.

Under Qatar's FDI scheme, a total of 135 new projects were launched, resulting in the creation of 13,972 new jobs throughout the year. The increase in FDI capital expenditure represents a 25-fold growth compared with the previous year, while the number of jobs created doubled, the agency stated.

'The past year provided us with invaluable opportunities to showcase Qatar's potential'

- Commerce and Industry Minister Mohammed bin Hamad Al Thani

New employment opportunities spanned various sectors, including oil and gas, software development, information technology, business services, and original equipment manufacturing for vehicles.

Mohammed Bin Hamad Bin Qassim al-Abdullah Al Thani, the minister of commerce and industry and chairman of the Qatar Investment Promotion Agency, hailed these achievements as evidence of the resilience of Qatar's economy.

He emphasised the country's commitment to long-term strategies and decades of prudent investment.

"The past year provided us with invaluable opportunities to showcase Qatar's potential as a unique investment destination and to strengthen our partnerships with stakeholders and relevant entities worldwide," he said.

*Arabic press review is a digest of news reports not independently verified as accurate by Middle East Eye.

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