The Arab Organization for Human Rights was founded in 1983, at a time when the legal, political and cultural environment in the Arab world was not at all amenable to human rights. On the legal level and when present, societies' laws ranged between banning outright and imposing restrictions, and the very concept of human rights was deeply misunderstood. This was due to the many relevant interpretations and reference points and to its use by the West to contain communist ideology and apply pressure on the Soviet Union. In the meantime, all across the Arab region, public freedoms were experiencing crises of varying degrees of severity. It is in this legally restricted, culturally dubious and politically stifled environment that efforts to establish the Organization first saw the light of day in what amounted to an effort to swim against the current.

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