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29th March

 Update: Secularist of the Year...

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Charlie Hebdo staff honoured for bravery in the face of terrorism
Link Here  full story: Charlie Hebdo...Censored by terrorists
secularist of the year 2015 logo The National Secular Society has awarded the staff of Charlie Hebdo the annual Secularist of the Year prize, for their courageous response to the terror attack on their Paris office.

Just one week after the attack on 7 January 2015, in which 12 people were killed, the remaining staff of Charlie Hebdo published an edition of the magazine featuring a depiction of Mohammed and an editorial making a passionate defence of secularism and the right to free expression.

NSS president Terry Sanderson said:

Since the events of 7 January in Paris, Charlie Hebdo has become more than a magazine -- it has become an ideal, a symbol of democracy, a rallying cry to those who value freedom and openness in public debate.

The Charlie Hebdo horror has now joined the endless stream of other outrages committed in the name of Islam. The difference is that it prompted a commitment to free speech and secularism on the part of millions of people.

Looked at objectively, blasphemy is a ridiculous concept, transparently invented to protect eminently arguable ideas from challenge. Ridiculous it may be, but it is also lethal.

From the forty or so nominations that we received, there was one that could not be ignored, that was the obvious and only possible winner.

In addition to the main Secularist of the Year award, the NSS also acknowledged a number of others for their work in the past year.

  • Lord Avebury was recognised with a special award for his invaluable support of the NSS, and for being a tireless advocate for secularism. Lord Avebury recently tabled a Bill to abolish chancel repair liability and has spoken out in Parliament against collective worship in schools and new legislation allowing prayers to be held as part of council meetings.
     
  • Maajid Nawaz, who couldn't attend the event, was recognised for his work at Quilliam, countering Islamic extremism and promoting secularism.
     
  • Helen Bailey and Elaine Hession were acknowledged for their efforts in helping the National Secular Society campaign to abolish chancel repair liability.

 

17th March

  Caught Red Handed...

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France blocks 5 terrorists websites without the requirement to obtain a court order
Link Here
France flag The French authorities have used new powers to block without a court order, five websites which they claim condone terrorism.

Internet service providers have 24 hours to comply. The chairman of European Internet Service Provider OVH tweeted that his firm had not been given any warning.

The rules were approved along with other counter-terrorism measures by the French parliament last year. It is the first time they have been put to use to block websites without going through a court process.

Visitors to the sites affected are now directed to a page from the French Interior Ministry, containing a graphic of a big red hand.

 

17th March

  Weekly Outrage...

Video Universe - Buy New Release DVDs, TV on DVD, Music Videos and Much More

French local newspaper sort of publishes porn pic of the shooting of an adult video
Link Here
oise hebdo blowjob One of France's top regional newspapers has caused a little 'outrage' after it splashed still images of a pornographic film that was being recorded in a local park on its front page as well in an inside spread. Warning: This story contains graphic images.

Beneath the headline The shooting of a porn film in a central park, Oise hebdo published  a picture of a woman performing oral sex on a man in which readers can just about make out that the blowjob was real.

There was more on the inside pages including images of the porn stars having sexual intercourse.

This week's cover story prompted an inevitable 'outcry' on Twitter where a few users slammed complained about the paper's lack of morals.

According to reports, several outraged family organisations have also launched legal action against the newspaper.

 

13th March

  Bankrupt Politics...

Spanish senate passes law gagging public protests and in particular community protests intended to prevent the eviction of austerity victims
Link Here
Spanish flag The Spanish senate has voted to push forward with controversial changes restricting the freedom to protest.

Recent years have seen millions of Spaniards take to the streets to voice their dissatisfaction with the rightwing People's party government, protesting against crippling austerity measures and attempts to roll back the country's abortion laws. Now the government has hit back with legislation, dubbed the gag law by critics, that seeks to limit protests by laying out strict guidelines on when and where they can take place and penalising offenders with steep fines.

Recent months have seen thousands of Spaniards pour into the streets of more than 25 cities and towns to voice their discontent with the bill , tying bright blue cloths over their mouths to demonstrate the chilling effect the law would have on free speech. A December poll by Metroscopia for Avaaz.org found that 82% of the 600 people queried thought the legislation should be modified or abandoned.

In a country where home evictions took place at a rate of 95 families a day in 2014, the proposed laws take aim at groups such as the Mortgage Victims' Platform whose spontaneous rallies in front of homes seek to physically block police from carrying out court-ordered evictions. The legislation stipulates fines of up to 30,000 euros for those who prevent government employees from enforcing administrative or judicial orders.

The legislation is expected to be finalised later this month. As the PP holds a majority in both houses of parliament in Spain, the legislation is certain to pass. The bulk of measures included in the legislation are expected to come into effect in July.

 

6th March

 Update: Facebook thinks it's legally the origin of the world...

French court decides that it has jurisdiction over French man's censorship dispute with Facebook
Link Here  full story: Facebook Censorship...Facebook quick to censor
gustave courbet lorigine du monde A Paris court has ruled that it has jurisdiction to judge a case against Facebook, which blocked the account of a French teacher who posted an image of a vagina by 19th century artist Gustave Courbet.

The court ruled that Facebook's clause that forces all users to agree that any litigation must be based in California, where the site is based, was abusive.

Facebook is being sued by a French man whose account was suspended after he posted a photo of a painting by 19th century picture by Gustave Courbet, The Origin of the World , depicting a naked woman's vagina.

The victim of Facebook's censorship filed a complaint in a French court complaining that the site could not differentiate between pornography and art.

In a hearing on January 22, Facebook's lawyer Caroline Lyannaz argued that the site did not fall under French jurisdiction as users have to sign a clause agreeing that only a California court can rule in disputes relating to the firm.

The teacher's lawyer, Stephane Cottineau, said the California jurisdiction claim was an abusive clause as none of the 22 million Facebook users in France can ever take recourse to French legal jurisdiction in the event of a dispute .

The court will hear the case on May 21.

 

28th February

  Licensed to Discriminate...

EU official speaks out against licensing by region enforced by internet geolocking
Link Here
EU flag Andrus Ansip, Europe's Vice-President for the Digital Single Market, wants to abolish geoblocking. Restricting user access to content based on their location, which Netflix, YouTube and others do, is discrimination, he says. I want to pay -- but I am not allowed to. I lose out, they lose out, Ansip notes.

Due to complicated licensing agreements Netflix is only available in a few dozen countries, all of which have a different content library. The same is true for many other media services such as BBC iPlayer, Amazon Instant Video, and even YouTube.

These regional blockades are a thorn in the side of Andrus Ansip , Vice-President for the Digital Single Market in the European Commission. In a speech this week he explained why these roadblocks should be abolished.

Far too often, consumers find themselves redirected to a national website, or blocked. I know this from my own experience. You probably do as well. This is one of many barriers that needs to be removed so that everyone can enjoy the best Europe has to offer online. It is a serious and common barrier, as well as extremely frustrating.

The EU is currently discussing how copyright legislation in Europe should be overhauled and the Vice-President for the Digital Single Market hopes that measures against geoblocking will be part of the new rules.

 

26th February

  Norway Converges...

Norway introduces new age classifications that apply to all audio visual media
Link Here
Norway flag The Norwegian Parliament adopted a new law on child protection in audiovisual programmes. The Ministry of Culture had presented a White Paper to Parliament proposing to establish a new Act on the protection of minors on 20 June 2014, the first reading in the Parliament happened on 10 December.

The new law introduces a platform independent approach, child protection measures are unified in one Act regardless of platform.  The Act will apply to the communication of audiovisual programmes and connected material to the general public through:

  • (Linear) television On-demand audiovisual media services
  • Screenings at a public gathering in Norway (including at a cinema or other screening facility)
  • Making videos available in Norway (including free distribution of DVD/Blu-ray).

The Act introduces new age limits: All , 6 , 9 , 12 , 15 and 18 .

The Norwegian Media Authority will now develop rules and guidelines for the implementation of the new provisions and conduct information campaigns aimed at industry and the public during 2015. The Act will come into force no earlier than 1 July 2015.

 

25th February

  EU Bullies Luxembourg...

Resulting in a new law to meet censorship requirements of the Audiovisual Media Services Directive
Link Here
Luxemburg flag Luxembourg has responded to a European Commission reprimand for not implementing the media censorship required by the Audiovisual Media Services Directive.

The resulting draft law introduces a system of self-classification, requiring broadcasters established in Luxembourg to classify their programmes.

The Act sets out five categories of age groups:

  • (I) no age distinction - programmes appropriate for all audiences;
  • (II) programmes not suitable for minors under 10;
  • (III) programmes not suitable for minors under 12;
  • (IV) programmes not suitable for minors under 16; and
  • (V) programmes not suitable for minors under 18.

Programmes of the first category are to be exempt from labelling. For the other categories, the obligatory identification is to take two forms: first, the form of pictograms referring to the respective age group in black letters on white ground and, second, the form of a warning stating not recommended for minors aged below 10/12/16/18 . Content of category II is to be made identifiable by the broadcasting of the corresponding pictogram and the respective warning for one minute at the beginning of the programme. Those of categories III and IV should be featured during the entire duration of the programme. In addition, the warning should appear for one minute at the beginning of the programme and when the programme resumes after an interruption (such as an advertising break). Pictograms and warnings will also have to be screened during a trailer for programmes of categories II, III and IV.

  • Programmes susceptible to harming minors will have to be classified as being unsuitable for minors under 10.
  • Programmes resorting to physical and psychological violence in a systematic and repeated manner will have to be considered unsuitable for minors under 12. These may not be broadcast in unencoded form between 6 a.m. and 8 p.m.
  • Programmes of erotic character or great violence will be regarded as harmful to minors under 16 and will only be allowed to be disseminated in unencoded form after 10 p.m. and before 6 a.m.
  • For the fifth category of programmes, the draft regulation indicates that their dissemination is in principle legal. However, such content should be reserved for an adult audience due to its sexually explicit or highly violent character. Thus, such programmes shall in every case have to be encoded and, additionally, broadcast only between midnight and 5 a.m. Access shall only be granted to adults by way of a personal access code. The starting screen shall have to display a monochrome image on a blank screen and no sound in order to discourage providers from screening, for instance, sexually explicit stills and thereby attracting minors' attention.

In addition, the draft regulation contains a rule for broadcasters principally targeting the public of another EU Member State, while established in Luxembourg. As an exception, such broadcasters should be able to opt for the classification system applied in that particular Member State, provided that an equivalent level of protection is achieved.

Furthermore, providers of on-demand audiovisual media services will also be required to classify their programmes, with a choice between three systems:

  • first, they may apply the labels as prescribed by Art. 1 of the draft regulation,
  • second, they may maintain the classification obtained in the country of origin of the work or
  • third, if the programme is directed to a public in another Member State, they may apply the corresponding system of that Member State.

Providers of non-linear services will be obliged to introduce parental control systems (about which users should be adequately informed), which would restrict access to programmes on the basis of a specific code.

Material not suitable for minors aged below 18 (category V) will have to be presented in a separate space and will only be allowed to be offered in return for remuneration (either upon subscription or as pay-per-view). Access to such content will have to be permanently blocked and will only be permitted to be accessible after insertion of a special access code, verification of which would take place each time the user returns to the service.

 

24th February

  Common Sense Prevails...

European Court says that it is legal for internet users to watch streaming videos without worrying about copyright provided that any copies made in the process are transient
Link Here
European Court of Justice Internet users who look at copyrighted material online aren't breaking copyright by doing so, the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) has declared. This is a useful ruling that will now apply across the EU.

The declaration was part of the British Meltwater case. Meltwater is a Norway-founded media monitoring service that sent out daily digests including the headlines and the first bit of the article of the newspaper stories, together with links to the full online articles. It did not pay for these snippets. The company found itself sued in the U.K. by the Newspaper Licensing Agency (NLA). The case was really about whether Meltwater could use headlines and portions of articles in a commercial service without copyright holder's permission but a side issue arose about whether web surfers are allowed to view content without copyright permission.

The NLA claimed that when you look at online content, you're making 2 copies, one on the screen and one in your browser's cache. The agency claimed that this required the authorization of the copyright holders.

But the CJEU ruled:

Article 5 of Directive 2001/29/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 22 May 2001 on the harmonisation of certain aspects of copyright and related rights in the information society must be interpreted as meaning that the copies on the user's computer screen and the copies in the internet cache of that computer's hard disk, made by an end-user in the course of viewing a website, satisfy the conditions that those copies must be temporary, that they must be transient or incidental in nature and that they must constitute an integral and essential part of a technological process, as well as the conditions laid down in Article 5(5) of that directive, and that they may therefore be made without the authorisation of the copyright holders.

 

20th February

 Update: Maltese PM claims he's Charlie...

Blasphemy law is still alive and kicking in Malta
Link Here  full story: Blasphemy in Malta...Malta prosecutes many for villifying the chruch

nun costume blasphemy in malta Whereas the rest of Europe has an unwritten blasphemy law enforced by violent religious intolerants, Malta quaintly has an official blasphemy law enforced by the police.

In the light of the muslim terrorism in Paris, the Maltese press have been noting the irony the country's Prime Minister Joseph Muscat heading off to Paris to participate in a unity rally, whilst presiding over a country with a blasphemy law that makes it illegal to acquire or distribute the many issues of Charlie Hebdo featuring religious cartoonery.

Uttering any obscene words - although what constitutes obscene words is not defined - in public is one of the contraventions affecting public order included in Article 338 of the Criminal Code. But Article 342 sets out that if the act involves blasphemous words or expressions, the offender may be jailed for up to three months, although a fine may be levied instead.

Another contravention listed in Article 338 includes ecclesiastical habits or vestments among the uniforms which cannot be worn without the permission of the authorities.

The Criminal Code also includes three articles which specifically address crimes against the religious sentiment. Article 163 and 164 concern the vilification of religion, granting a privileged position to the Roman Catholic religion - declared to be Malta's religion in the Constitution - in the process.

Article 163 sets out that whoever publicly vilifies the Roman Catholic Apostolic Religion which is the religion of Malta, or gives offence to the Roman Catholic Apostolic Religion by vilifying those who profess such religion or its ministers, or anything which forms the object of, or is consecrated to, or is necessarily destined for Roman Catholic worship, shall, on conviction, be liable to imprisonment for a term from one to six months. Article 164 criminalises the same behaviour when directed towards any cult tolerated by law, but in this case, only a maximum jail term of three months is foreseen.

Article 165 criminalises the obstruction of religious services, this time making no distinction between Roman Catholic services and those of other religions tolerated by law. Anyone who obstructs religious services carried out with the assistance of a minister of religion or in any place of worship or in any public place or place open to the public may be jailed for up to one year, or up to two years if the obstruction involves threats or violence.

A Maltese Charlie Hebdo would clearly fall foul of both Article 163 - the cover of one issue, for instance, carried a depiction of the Trinity engaged in a sexual act - and Article 164.

Due to some of the magazine's more risque content, anyone involved in its production or distribution could also be prosecuted under Article 208, which criminalises the production, acquisition or distribution of obscene or pornographic material, with offenders liable to imprisonment for up to 1 year.

And it's not as if Maltese blasphemy law is some sort of dormant anachronism from the past. Blasphemy laws are still actively enforced, and a number of people have received suspended jail terms as a result.

A number of people had ended up in Court and charged with vilifying the Roman Catholic religion in the wake of the 2009 Nadur carnival. Then-Archbishop of Malta, Paul Cremona, and Gozo Bishop Mario Grech had jointly urged the authorities to intervene before the police confirmed that arraignments would take place.

A 26-year-old man who dressed up as Jesus received a one-month jail term suspended for six months after pleading guilty. But a group who dressed up as nuns pleaded not guilty and were acquitted because they were not wearing any religious symbols.

However, another young man received a suspended jail term for vilifying the Roman Catholic religion in 2009: he displayed visuals which included, among other things, Pope John Paul II and a naked woman while DJing at a music festival.

 

18th February

 Offsite Article: Unforgettable Tactics...

Link Here
Google logoHow Google has steered EU censorship under the 'right to be forgotten'

See article from theguardian.com

 

15th February

 Update: Murderous censorship...

Terrorist attacks those attending a debate about free speech being curtailed by threats of violence
Link Here

Denmark flag Police in Copenhagen have killed a muslim terrorist suspected of attacks that left two dead and five injured in a terrorist attack in the Danish capital.

The first attack took place at a free speech event where a Swedish cartoonist Lars Vilks who depicted the religious character Mohammed as a dog was speaking.  Vilks, who has been threatened several times before , hid in a cold room during the shooting with Helle Merete Brix, one of the event organisers. There is nobody that thinks it is pleasant when somebody tries to attack you. We sat in the cold room holding hands and telling jokes. For what else can you do in such a situation? she told TV2.

The second attack was at a synagogue.

Each attack left one person dead, with three police officers injured at the Art, Blasphemy and Free Speech debate and two at the synagogue.

Helle Thorning-Schmidt, Denmark's prime minister Tweeted:

This is not a battle between Muslims and non-Muslims. This is a fight between freedom and a dark ideology

The man suspected of killing two people in shootings in Copenhagen was on Sunday identified in several Danish media outlets as Omar El-Hussein. Ekstra-Bladet, a Danish tabloid, reported that the 22-year-old was released from jail only two weeks ago after serving a term for aggravated assault.

Jodie Ginsberg, CEO of Index on Censorship, said:

Index on Censorship logo The use of violence on a gathering exploring the intersection of religious and artistic freedom should send shivers down our spines.

The Charlie Hebdo murders inspired intensified public debate about free speech and its value. Many people who had previously given little thought to free speech were drawn for the first time into online discussions or attended events to help them get a better understanding of the issues. It would be terrible if violent acts such as that in Copenhagen shut down free speech even further.

The ability to express ourselves freely, to attend meetings and debates without fear of violence, is fundamental to a free society. Free speech must be protected.

This is not just about cartoons or offence. If violence is allowed to win, free speech -- and all of our ability to be who we are, practice what religion we like, have relationships with whomever we want -- dies.

Comment: Copenhagen: the bloody, murderous 'No Platforming' of blasphemers

Spiked logo 15th February 2015. See  article from  strangethingsarehappening.com by Brendan O'Neill

After this shooting, let's fight even harder for the right to offend.

 

14th February

  An Irish blasphemy against free speech...

Atheist Ireland calls on the government to honour its promise to hold a referendum to repeal the blasphemy law
Link Here  full story: Blasphemy in Ireland...Irish politicians enact blasphemy law

Atheist Ireland An international group of atheists and secularists including the scientists Richard Dawkins and Steven Pinker has challenged the Irish prime minister, Enda Kenny, to hold a referendum to repeal Ireland's blasphemy law which was introduced in July 2009.

Ahead of an historic first meeting between a taoiseach and Irish atheists, the group told Kenny that it was: h

His duty to protect a strong position on behalf of those intimidated in Ireland and, more importantly, on behalf of those facing execution by nations who cite Irish blasphemy laws in justification and mitigation of their behaviour.

The letter to the republic's prime minister, signed by the Irish comedian Ed Byrne and the gay rights activist Rory O'Neill (AKA drag queen Panti), as well as leading figures in science and politics, criticised the Dublin government's decision to renege on its promise to hold a blasphemy referendum.

Last autumn, the Irish government appeared to suggest that the blasphemy law would be included in a series of national referendums in May, including gay marriage equality and the lowering of the age when an Irish citizen can stand for the presidency. However, at the end of last year it emerged that blasphemy had been excluded.

Meanwhile Ireland's Islamic Cultural Centre claims the depiction of the prophet Muhammad on the front page of the French satirical publication, which is on sale now in Irish shops, is a clear breach of the country's blasphemy legislation.

 

9th February

 Update: All Grey and No Blue...

France gives a 12 rating to Fifty Shades of Grey
Link Here  full story: Fifty Shades of Grey Movie...Kink for kids Hollywood style
france 12 large An amusingly taunting tweet alerted me that France's film classifiers have given a 12 rating to Fifty Shades of Grey:

50 nuances de Grey interdit aux -12 ans en France! C'est la classification de Madame Doubtfire en Angleterre

And indeed cinema websites in France do seem to be noting the screening as Interdit aux moins 12 ans (Prohibited to those less than 12 years old).

Perhaps justifiably

9th February 2015.  See  article from  telegraph.co.uk

The Telegraph has printed its first review saying:

Fifty Shades of Grey has no sex for first 40 minutes Preview audiences were getting restless at lack of sex in 50 Shades of Grey,

The film features only 11 minutes of sex and none at all in the first 40 minutes, according to one disappointed reviewer.

...Read the full article

 

8th February

 Offsite Article: This won't be forgotten...

Link Here  full story: The Right to be Forgotten...Bureaucratic censorship in the EU
new york times logoNew York Times editorial is unimpressed by the EU wanting to impose its disgraceful 'right to be forgotten' censorship rules on the US

See article from nytimes.com

 

7th February

  Preaching Free Speech...

Reporters Without Borders ask French religious leaders to sign declaration support freedom of expression including the right to criticise religion
Link Here
Reporters without Borders logo Reporters Without Borders is asking French religious leaders to sign a statement declaring that:

Everyone is free to express criticism of any system of political, philosophical or religious thought.

No one's concept of what is sacred may be imposed on others.

The Declaration on Freedom of Expression is part of the Freedom of expression has no religion campaign.

The push comes amid widespread fears about de facto Islamic blasphemy laws in Europe, and after the Pope made clear his view that freedom of expression has limits where matters of faith and religion are concerned.

The campaign is asking leaders of many different faiths to sign the statement, including Muslims, Christians and Jews. Reporters Without Borders state that they have sought the support of representatives of France's leading religious organizations and that several senior figures have already signed the statement, including Dalil Boubakeur, head of the Paris Mosque and the French Council of Muslim Worship; Francois Clavairoly, who leads the Protestant Federation and Marie-Stella Boussemart, president of the French Buddhist Union.

Grand Rabbi Haam Korsia is said to support the declaration in principle, and is calling for a collective response from all members of the French Conference of Religious Leaders , including the French Conference of Bishops and the French Assembly of Orthodox Bishops.

Reporters Without Borders explain that their goal is:

To draw attention to the close relationship between freedom of expression and religious freedom and to combat the temptation to restrict freedom of expression.

 

31st January

 Offsite Article: France gets heavy with dissenters...

Link Here  full story: Charlie Hebdo...Censored by terrorists
France flagLong jail terms after crackdown on speech that glorifies terrorism

See article from theguardian.com

 

28th January

  A Twisted Definition of Tolerance...

Jewish leaders in a disgraceful call for censorship and a European blasphemy law, subtly hiding it behind a ban on reprehensible cultural practices
Link Here  full story: European Council on Tolerance and Reconciliation...Orewellian organisation campaigns for a new EU-wide blasphemy law
european council on tolerance and reconciliation logoEuropean Jewish leaders, backed by  former EU heads of state and government, are calling for pan-European legislation outlawing antisemitism and criticism of religion.

A panel of four international jewish leaders backed by the misleadingly named European Council on Tolerance and Reconciliation (ECTR) have spent three years drafting a 12-page document on 'tolerance' . They are lobbying to have it converted into law in the 28 countries of the EU.

The proposal would outlaw antisemitism as well as criminalising a host of other activities of what the group deems to be violating fundamental rights on religious, cultural, ethnic and gender grounds.

The group head the list with some justifiable prohibitions, female genital mutilation, forced marriage, polygamy, but then slip in extensive censorship and blasphemy items, eg criminalising xenophobia, and creating a new crime of group libel , ie public defamation of ethnic, cultural or religious groups. Then to try and generate a little support, the group extends the list to include women's and gay rights.

The proposed legislation would also curb freedom of expression on grounds of a bizarre definition of 'tolerance'. The document twists the meaning of tolerance to try and justify the end to the right of freedom of expression:

Tolerance is a two-way street. Members of a group who wish to benefit from tolerance must show it to society at large, as well as to members of other groups and to dissidents or other members of their own group.

There is no need to be tolerant to the intolerant. This is especially important as far as freedom of expression is concerned: that freedom must not be abused to defame other groups.

But the document goes much further, calling for the criminalisation of overt approval of a totalitarian ideology, xenophobia or antisemitism.

Education in tolerance should be mandatory from primary school to university, and for the military and the police, while public broadcasting must devote a prescribed percentage of their programmes to promoting a climate of 'tolerance' .

The panel was chaired by Yoram Dinstein, a war crimes expert, professor and former president of Tel Aviv university.

The drafters are currently touring the parliaments of Europe trying to drum up support.

 

24th January

 Updated: Comments on Charlie...

A round up of essays
Link Here  full story: Charlie Hebdo...Censored by terrorists

Spiked logoWe must have the freedom to offend anyone...

Aussie cartoonist Bill Leak on satire, censorship and mocking Muhammad.

24th January 2015. See  article from  spiked-online.com by Brendan O'Neill
 

index logoEnough of the moderate Muslim ...

18th January 2015. See  article from  indexoncensorship.org By Padraig Reidy

It is now eight days since a murderous gang set about killing cartoonists because they had blasphemed and Jews because they were Jews.

Since then, we have gone from revulsion at the acts of the killers to an obsessive focus on the actions of their victims (or at least their victims at Charlie Hebdo: there is relatively little discussion of the slain shoppers in the kosher supermarket).
 

index logoAs a Muslim, I know there is no God-given right not to be offended...

18th January 2015. See  article from  indexoncensorship.org by Rashid Razaq

Satire is scary for people who can't live with doubt. Because satire is all about creating doubt

Spiked logoFrom Je suis Charlie to Nous Sommes Voltaire ...

Despite the outburst of solidarity, free speech is still in the firing line.

16th January 2015. See article from spiked-online.com by Mick Hume
 

comment is free logoAdd faithophobia to my crimes

I have no respect for religions that have little respect for me Now is a time to remember that tolerance has to be reciprocal or it is not tolerance at all

15th January 2015. A surprisingly critical  article from  theguardian.com by Suzanne Moore
 

the spectator logoReligion of peace is not a harmless platitude

To face Islamist terror, we must face the facts about Islam's history

15th January 2015. See  article from  spectator.co.uk by Douglas Murray
 

ministry of truth logoThe BBC, Charlie Hebdo and Jesus & Mo

14th January 2015. See  article from  ministryoftruth.me.uk

If, like me, you were watching BBC Question Time on Thursday evening then you will have undoubtedly noticed that the venerable Dimbers dropped something of a bombshell during the opening debate on the Charlie Hebdo murders by referring to BBC editorial guidance which explicitly prohibited the use of images depicting Mohammed in very clear and unequivocal terms:

The Ministry of Truth seeks investigates the BBC's censorship rules about images of Mohammed
 

Spiked logoWhat if Charlie Hebdo had been published in Britain...

It would have been crushed. Here's how.

14th January 2015. See  article from  spiked-online.com
 

brendan oneillRestore the right to offend...

We must defend the right to be scurrilous. And shocking. And blasphemous. Freedom of speech doesn't mean a thing if we only defend it

14th January 2015. See  article from  brendanoneill.co.uk

 

16th January

  Willie and Twinkle...

Dancing genitals on Swedish CBeebies cause a little 'outrage'
Link Here
bacillakuten videoSweden has been gripped by a little 'outrage' over a children's cartoon depicting prancing genitals.

The one-minute clip for Barnkanalen, Sweden's equivalent of CBeebies, shows cartoon penises and vaginas smiling and dancing to the tune of a song which employs words perhaps sometimes used by small children to refer to their private parts.

Here comes Willie at a run, he has no pants, goes the song. Twinkle is cool, you better believe it, even on an old lady, Willie and Twinkle, what a great gang!

The song's Facebook page includes 'outraged' comments by some parents who are offended that children of that age should be expected to talk about genitals.

The song was written and performed by Johan Holmstrom who said:

I feel sorry for those parents who get upset, this is a harmless music video.

The clip gained further notoriety when it was briefly classified by YouTube as adult content requiring viewers to confirm they are aged over 18, but the programme makers persuaded the company to relent.

 

16th January

 Updated: Comments on Charlie...

A round up of essays
Link Here  full story: Charlie Hebdo...Censored by terrorists

Spiked logoFrom Je suis Charlie to Nous Sommes Voltaire ...

Despite the outburst of solidarity, free speech is still in the firing line.

16th January 2015. See article from spiked-online.com by Mick Hume
 

comment is free logoAdd faithophobia to my crimes

I have no respect for religions that have little respect for me Now is a time to remember that tolerance has to be reciprocal or it is not tolerance at all

15th January 2015. A surprisingly critical  article from  theguardian.com by Suzanne Moore
 

the spectator logoReligion of peace is not a harmless platitude

To face Islamist terror, we must face the facts about Islam's history

15th January 2015. See  article from  spectator.co.uk by Douglas Murray
 

ministry of truth logoThe BBC, Charlie Hebdo and Jesus & Mo

14th January 2015. See  article from  ministryoftruth.me.uk

If, like me, you were watching BBC Question Time on Thursday evening then you will have undoubtedly noticed that the venerable Dimbers dropped something of a bombshell during the opening debate on the Charlie Hebdo murders by referring to BBC editorial guidance which explicitly prohibited the use of images depicting Mohammed in very clear and unequivocal terms:

The Ministry of Truth seeks investigates the BBC's censorship rules about images of Mohammed
 

Spiked logoWhat if Charlie Hebdo had been published in Britain...

It would have been crushed. Here's how.

14th January 2015. See  article from  spiked-online.com
 

brendan oneillRestore the right to offend...

We must defend the right to be scurrilous. And shocking. And blasphemous. Freedom of speech doesn't mean a thing if we only defend it

14th January 2015. See  article from  brendanoneill.co.uk

 

15th January

 Update: Turkey Ain't Charlie...

Turkish court orders ISPs to block websites with Charlie Hebdo special edition cover
Link Here  full story: Charlie Hebdo...Censored by terrorists
Turkey flagA Turkish court has ordered the telecommunications censor to ban access to websites showing Charlie Hebdo's front cover with the image of the religious character Muhammad, a state-run news agency said.

The Anadolu Agency said the ban, which would block access to the websites in Turkey, was ordered by a court in the southeastern city of Diyarbakir, according to the Dogan news agency. The decision came from the court, because a lawyer in Diyarbakir filed a petition saying the websites were a danger to public order.

 

13th January

 Update: All is Forgiven...

But violent and aggressive censorship continues while Charlie Hebdo publishes a special edition
Link Here  full story: Charlie Hebdo...Censored by terrorists
le soirThe offices of a Belgian newspaper that republished cartoons from the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo were evacuated on Sunday after receiving an anonymous bomb threat.

The evacuation of Le Soir, a French-language daily, came as thousands of people marched through Brussels in solidarity with France following Islamist attacks on Charlie Hebdo and other sites.

Meanwhile in Ireland , a Muslim lecturer has said that he would consider legal advice if a member of the Irish media retweets or publishes a cartoon of the Prophet Mohammed from Charlie Hebdo, The Journal.ie reported.

Ali Selim, of the Islamic Cultural Centre of Ireland was asked by Niall Boylan on the 4FM radio programme if he retweeted the cartoon would his life be in danger? Selim replied: Not your life would be in danger but definitely we will check the Irish law and if there is any legal channel against you, we will take it.

charlie hebdo forgivenThe front cover of Wednesday's edition of the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, the first since last week's attack on its offices that left 12 people dead, is a cartoon of Muhammad.

The cover shows the prophet shedding a tear and holding up a sign reading Je suis Charlie in sympathy with the dead journalists. The headline says All is forgiven . A record 3m copies are to be printed, in 16 languages.

The cover cartoon was drawn by the weekly's cartoonist Luz, who survived the massacre because he was late arriving at the office.

Newspapers around Europe, including Liberation, Le Monde and Frankfurter Allgemeine have used the image online. The BBC showed it briefly during a newspaper review on Newsnight. In the US, the Washington Post, USA Today, LA Times, Wall Street Journal. The Guardian is running this cover as its news value warrants publication.

 

 

12th January

 Update: Paris est Charlie...

France marches en-masse to support Charlie Hebdo and the right to free speech
Link Here  full story: Charlie Hebdo...Censored by terrorists
paris est charlieAround 1.5 million people take to the streets of Paris on Sunday in a show of defiance and unity against muslim terrorism.

Dozens of world leaders joining the millions of people marching to commemorate and celebrate the victims of last week's terror attacks. The interior ministry said there were too many people to count but most estimates put it at somewhere between 1.5 million and 2 million. And an estimated 3.7 million took to the streets across the whole country.

Parisiens of all ages, religions and nationalities turned out to show their respect for the victims and their support for the values of the Republic. On est tous Charlie (We are all Charlie), they chanted, waving French flags, singing La Marseillaise, brandishing pens, pencils, placards and banners in French, English and Arabic.

On a political and diplomatic level, it was unparalleled. Protocol rules were ignored as around 50 world leaders congregated in the French capital. Presidents, prime ministers, statesmen and women took buses from the Elysee palace to join the march from Place de la Republique to Place de la Nation, two of Paris's best-known squares.

Charlie Hebdo staff, including those who survived Wednesday's attack, wore white headbands bearing the name Charlie.

 

 

12th January

 Update: More censorship by violence...

Arson attack at German newspaper that printed Charlie Hebdo cartoons
Link Here  full story: Charlie Hebdo...Censored by terrorists
hamburger morgenpost logoA German newspaper that reprinted the Muhammad cartoons from the French satirical paper Charlie Hebdo has been the target of an arson attack. No one was hurt in the attack.

Several stones and an incendiary device were thrown through the window of the archive of the regional tabloid daily, the Hamburger Morgenpost, early on Sunday morning. The paper had printed three Charlie Hebdo cartoons on its front page after the Paris massacre, running the headline This much freedom must be possible!

A police spokesman told AFP:

Rocks and then a burning object were thrown through the window. Two rooms on lower floors were damaged but the fire was put out quickly.

Two people were detained and an investigation has begun, police said. Police declined to provide further information about the suspects, but it is assumed that they are muslims.

 

10th January

 Update: France Est Charlie...

Charlie Hebdo to publish a special survivors edition next week with state support
Link Here  full story: Charlie Hebdo...Censored by terrorists
charlie hebdo le journal des survivantsCharlie Hebdo plans to publish a journal des survivants next week, as pledges of money and other forms of support continue to pour in from media organisations in France and elsewhere.

About 20 surviving Charlie Hebdo staff gathered at the offices of French newspaper Liberation, for their first editorial meeting since the terrorist attack on its Paris headquarters in which 12 people, including eight of the title's journalists and two policemen, were killed.

Those at the table included the cartoonist Luz, who escaped the carnage because he was late on Wednesday, reporter Laurent Leger, columnist Patrick Pelloux and the paper's lawyer, Richard Malka.

The journalists asked for their privacy to be respected while they work on next Wednesday's special survival edition, which will be limited to eight pages instead of the usual 16. A million copies are to be printed, a huge increase on its usual 60,000 print run.

The Liberation building, located close to the Charlie Hebdo premises, is now under armed police guard. Visitors are only allowed in with a specific invitation from a staff member and have to leave via the adjacent car park.

Prime minister, Manuel Valls and culture minister, Fleur Pellerin have promised 1 million euro to the paper to guarantee its survival. The Guardian Media Group has pledged £100,000, while more funding has come from the TV station Canal+ and Le Monde which has supplied the computers.

Asked about the irony of the French state propping up the deliberately provocative Charlie Hebdo, one Liberation staff member said: It's normal. This is a democracy.

 

9th January

 Update: Stand up for free speech...

Publish Charlie Hebdo's cartoons
Link Here  full story: Charlie Hebdo...Censored by terrorists

we must censor hebdoIndex on Censorship, the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, freeDimensional, PEN America, FreeWord, Reporters Without Borders, Article 19 and English PEN call on all those who believe in the fundamental right to freedom of expression to join in publishing the cartoons or covers of Charlie Hebdo on January 8 at 1400 GMT.

We believe that only through solidarity, in showing that we truly defend all those who exercise their right to speak freely, can we defeat those who would use violence to silence free speech. We ask media organisations, individuals and everyone who supports free speech to join together in this action.

Each publication will select a cartoon, a range of cartoons, or covers that they believe best reflect the right to free expression and publish at the same time globally. The idea is a moment of unity in which we show that together we stand up for journalism and the right to free speech, no matter what, and to show our support and respect for those killed on January 7.

Jodie Ginsberg, CEO of Index on Censorship said:

The ability to express ourselves freely is fundamental to a free society. This includes the freedom to publish, to satirise, to joke, to criticise, even when that might cause offence to others. Those who wish to silence free speech must never be allowed to prevail.

Suzanne Nossel, Executive Director, PEN American Center said:

Satire is both a privilege and a necessity in a free society. The freedom to question, to expose, to mock ultimately makes institutions, belief systems, and leaders stronger. The resort to murderous vengeance for the crime of drawing and publishing cartoons represents a terrifying perversion of religious values and an assault on our shared values. No matter how offensive, speech is never a justification for violence.

charlie hebdo decapitatedComic Book Legal Defense Fund Executive Director Charles Brownstein said:

The attack on the Charlie Hebdo offices is tragic, but it is also proof of just how powerful cartoons and cartoonists can be. Despite threats and prior attacks, the publishers, editors, and cartoonists of Charlie Hedbo never relented in using satire to question the world around them. CBLDF stands with Charlie Hebdo and their dedication to free expression.

Lucie Morillon, Programme Director, Reporters Without Borders said:

This unspeakable act of violence has challenged and assailed the entire press Journalism as whole is in mourning. In the name of all those who have fallen in the defence of these fundamental values, we must continue Charlie Hebdo's fight for the right to freedom of information.

Jo Glanville, Director of English PEN, said:

This is a time for all writers, publishers, editors, artists and free speech groups to stand in solidarity. In the face in one of the most devastating attacks on press freedom and freedom of expression in Europe's recent history, we need to reaffirm our commitment to speaking out and standing up for free speech. This action today is the first step.

Supporters of the call

Some of the publications and organisations joining us at this hour include:

  • The Guardian
  • New Statesman
  • Mail and Guardian
  • Folha de San Paulo
  • City Press
  • Comic Book Legal Defense Fund
  • Pen America
  • Article 19
  • English Pen
  • Reporters Without Borders
  • Conway Hall
  • Atheist NI
  • The Art Newspaper
  • New Humanist
  • Stephen Fry
  • Los Angeles Times

And some were understandably reticent

See  article from  theguardian.com

Publishing Muhammad cartoons would have been too risky, says Amol Rajan Editor of Independent newspaper said he had to balance principle with pragmatism, despite wanting to publish Charlie Hebdo cartoons on the front page

After the Charlie Hebdo Massacre, Support those Fighting the Religious-Right

See statement from freethoughtblogs.com

free thought blogs logoThe persistent demand for the extension of blasphemy laws around the world is a real danger for all. France has a long, and now growingly endangered,  tradition of secularism; which allows dissent from religions and the right to express this dissent. It has had a rich tradition to mock and caricature powers that be,  religious or otherwise. Let us keep this hard won right which cost so many lives in history, and, alas, still does, as Charlie Hebdo's twelve dead and numerous wounded demonstrate.

...Read the full statement

Sharia law, apostasy and secularism conference

Paying tribute to Charlie Hebdo and the many persecuted for criticising islam and religion

See details from ex-muslim.org.uk

7th February 2015, One day conference near London Kings Cross 9am registration; 10am-5:30pm

 Speakers at the 7 February conference will include Activist Ahmed Idris, Campaigner for Secular Education Aliyah Saleem, Spokesperson of the Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain Amal Farah, Activist Atoosa Khatiri, Secular Activist Chris Moos, Director of the Centre for Secular Space Gita Sahgal, Founder of the Council of Ex-Muslims of Morocco Imad Iddine Habib, Spokesperson of One Law for All Maryam Namazie, Spokesperson of the Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain Nahla Mahmoud, Human Rights Campaigner Peter Tatchell, Southall Black Sisters Director Pragna Patel, Founder of Ex-Muslims of Scotland Ramin Forghani, Nari Diganta's Rumana Hashem, National Secular Society President Terry Sanderson and Women's Rights Campaigner Yasmin Rehman.

And on a lighter note...

See some  fine words and fine cartoons from washingtonpost.com

banksy on hebdoCharlie Hebdo: In their words and works, American cartoonists condemn Wednesday's attack, hail slain satirists as heroes

And on a not so light note: Religion deserves fearless disrespect'

See  article from  freethinker.co.uk

Author Salman Rushdie yesterday made a statement about the attack on the Paris office of Charlie Hebdo that left 12 people dead. He said:

Religion, a medieval form of unreason, when combined with modern weaponry, becomes a real threat to our freedoms.

This religious totalitarianism has caused a deadly mutation in the heart of Islam and we see the tragic consequences in Paris today.

I stand with Charlie Hebdo, as we all must, to defend the art of satire, which has always been a force for liberty and against tyranny, dishonesty and stupidity.

"Respect for religion'" has become a code phrase meaning "fear of religion".

Religions, like all other ideas, deserve criticism, satire, and, yes, our fearless disrespect.

 

8th January

 Update: Je suis Charlie!...

The cry of defiance: Vast crowds rally across the world to condemn the censorship massacre
Link Here  full story: Charlie Hebdo...Censored by terrorists
je suis charlieTens of thousands took to the streets in Europe to show their solidarity with those killed by gunmen at the offices of satirical French weekly Charlie Hebdo.

The scenes were replicated across France, in London and around the world with crowds holding placards bearing the slogan Je Suis Charlie. Others were seen carrying enlarged versions of the some of the newspaper's anti-Islamist cartoons.

Meanwhile the website of French newspaper Le Monde last night showed an interactive map of vigils being held across the world in Dublin, Edinburgh, Amsterdam, Brussels, Madrid, Rome, Berlin, Vienna, Moscow, and as far afield as Tunis, Lima, Rio de Janeiro and Madagascar.

In London, hundreds of people filled Trafalgar Square at a silent vigil for those killed when masked gunmen stormed the newspaper's headquarters. Many held pens, pencils and notebooks in the air to show their support for the journalists, cartoonists and police officers who lost their lives.

The Heart is in defying censorship, but the mind says otherwise

Whilst there is a spirit of defying censorship, practicality, and fear of being killed, has rather dictated that self censorship has increased across the world.

The HuffingtonPost post reports :

Following a deadly terror attack Wednesday morning on the offices of Charlie Hebdo , a satirical French newspaper known for lampooning religion with caricature-based cartoons, many outlets have censored their coverage of the publication's depictions of the Prophet Muhammad.

The New York Daily News opted to obscure the front page of a Charlie Hebdo publication in its coverage of the attack. It blurred a cartoon from a 2011 Getty photo of Charlie Hebdo Editor Stéphane "Charb" Charbonnier , who was among those killed in Wednesday's attack. The Daily News did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The Telegraph took a similar approach and blurred the cover of a Charlie Hebdo paper in its live blog, then ultimately removed the image entirely , reports Politico.

And a bizarre response from Associated Press, the agency censored images of Christ over some politically correction notion of fairness after censoring images of Mohammed. An article at Gawker.com explains:

Politico's Dylan Byers reports that the Associated Press removed an image of Andres Serrano's 1987 photo Piss Christ from its photo library in the wake of today's deadly attack on the French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo.

Removing images of the artwork seems preposterous. I searched AP's library for Piss Christ before this post went up found at least one photo of Serrano posing in front of his most well-known work , which depicts a crucifix submerged in the artist's own urine. But a few minutes later, it was gone. What gives?

In fact the AP pulled the photos after the conservative Washington Examiner noted that it pixelated Charlie Hebdo cartoons depicting Mohammad but left images of Piss Christ intact.

Nick Cohen writing in the Spectator suggests that defiance will probably be short lived, and it won't be long before free speech gets re-relegated back to its proper place below the right to not be 'offended'.

Tonight everyone is defiant. I am just back from a Je suis Charlie vigil in Trafalgar Square, and the solidarity was good to see. I fear it won't last. I may be wrong. Perhaps tomorrow's papers and news programmes will prove their commitment to freedom by republishing the Charlie Hebdo cartoons.

But I doubt they will even have the courage to admit that they are too scared to show them. Instead we will have insidious articles, which condemn freedom of speech as a provocation and make weasel excuses for murder without having the guts to admit it.

The Financial Times was first out of the blocks:

Charlie Hebdo is a bastion of the French tradition of hard-hitting satire. It has a long record of mocking, baiting and needling Muslims.

The writer forgot to add that Charlie Hebdo has a long record of mocking, baiting and needling everyone. It is a satirical magazine in a free country: that is what it does.

 

7th January

 Update: Ultimate Censorship...

Muslim terrorists murder editor and staff in an attack on a satirical French magazine that offended them
Link Here  full story: Charlie Hebdo...Censored by terrorists

je suis charlieMuslim terrorists have shot dead 12 people at the Paris office of French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo .

Four of the magazine's well-known cartoonists, including its editor, were among those killed, as well as two police officers. A major police operation is under way to find three gunmen who fled by car.

President Francois Hollande said there was no doubt it had been a terrorist attack of exceptional barbarity .

The masked attackers opened fire with assault rifles in the office and exchanged shots with police in the street outside before escaping by car. They later abandoned the car in Rue de Meaux, northern Paris, where they hijacked a second car.

Witnesses said they heard the gunmen shouting We have avenged the Prophet Muhammad and God is Great in Arabic ( Allahu Akbar ).

French media have named the three other cartoonists killed in the attack as Cabu, Tignous and Wolinski, as well as Charlie Hebdo contributor and French economist Bernard Maris.

The satirical weekly has courted controversy in the past with its irreverent take on news and current affairs. It was firebombed in November 2011 a day after it carried a caricature of the religious character Muhammad.

 

3rd January

  A blasphemy against modern democracy...

Irish government breaks promise to hold a referendum on blasphemy law
Link Here
IrelandIrish atheists and secularists have accused their government of breaking a promise to call a referendum over the Republic's controversial blasphemy laws in the lifetime of the current coalition.

Atheist Ireland expressed disappointment that the government had quietly dropped plans for a plebiscite to rid the country of the outdated legislation, which secularists have argued are incompatible with modern Ireland .

Last year, the Fine Gael-Labour coalition had promised a referendum on the blasphemy law to coincide with two other votes on gay marriage equality and lowering the age for when a citizen can become president of the state.

Earlier this month, however, the government confirmed that referenda will be held in the spring on gay marriage and the age of a presidential candidate, but excluded a national vote on blasphemy.