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Friendly World Leaders Happily Give You The Finger

These autocrats from around the world show you what they think about freedom of the press–not much.

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World leaders like Vladimir Putin and Bashar al-Assad take such aggressive policies toward the press, they might as well be giving the public the finger (in Assad’s case, the murdering dictator part surely doesn’t help, either).

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That’s the message of a campaign by the French non-profit Journalists Without Borders. A series of large, black and white photos, posted around Paris in celebration of World Press Freedom Day, depicts autocratic leaders digitally altered to be flipping the bird.

This follows in the footsteps of another campaign that featured altered photos of world leaders, which showed them all making out.

The United Nations-created holiday is meant to remind governments around the world of the rights of the press, a mission which Reporters Without Borders has dedicated itself to for the past 18 years. Their annual Press Freedom Index, which ranks the world’s nations according to their respect for journalists, places Finland at the top and Eritrea at the bottom, the world’s 179th freest nation for journalists. Countries whose leaders appeared in the photo campaign all showed up near the bottom of the index, ranking as follows: Russia (148th), China (173rd), Iran (174th), Syria (176th), and North Korea (178th). They’re all above, giving you a lovely send-off, from the heart.

About the author

Zak Stone is a Los Angeles-based writer and a contributing editor of Playboy Digital. His writing has appeared in TheAtlantic.com, NYMag.com, Los Angeles, The Utne Reader, GOOD, and elsewhere. Visit his personal website here.

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