International Censorship News

 2012

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 Offsite Article: The Deadliest Year for Journalists...


Link Here 19th December 2012
88 journalists killed, 879 arrested, 1993 threatened or physically attacked, 38 kidnapped, 73 fled their country, 6 media assistants killed, 47 netizens and citizen-journalists killed, 144 bloggers and netizens arrested

See article from en.rsf.org

 

 Offsite Article: The future of internet governance? I wouldn't start from here...


Link Here 18th December 2012  full story: Internet Censorship at the UN...United Nations debates worldwide internet censorship
If there was ever any doubt that the UN's International Telecommunications Union (ITU) was the wrong body to run the internet, you only needed to look at its handling of its own World Conference. By Rohan Jayasekera

See article from blog.indexoncensorship.org

 

 Update: Hands Off...

Calls for UN control of internet governance rejected by US, Canada and UK


Link Here 14th December 2012  full story: Internet Censorship at the UN...United Nations debates worldwide internet censorship

UN logoThe US, Canada and UK have refused to sign an international communications treaty at a conference in Dubai.

The three countries had objected to calls for the UN to take over aspects of the governance of the internet, especially as several countries had been pushing for this with a view to increasing censorship controls.

Russia, China and Saudi Arabia were among those pushing for internet censorship. Many attendees believed it was an anachronism that the US government got to decide which body should regulate the net's address system as a legacy of its funding for Arpanet - a precursor to the internet which helped form its technical core.

It marks a setback for the UN's International Telecommunication Union (ITU) which had said it was sure it could deliver consensus. The ITU had organised the 12-day conference in order to revise a communications treaty last overhauled 24 years ago. Dubai conference centre 193 countries have been debating changes to a communications treaty in Dubai

Negotiators from Denmark, the Czech Republic, Sweden, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Costa Rica and Kenya have said they would need to consult with their national governments about how to proceed and would also not be able to sign the treaty as planned on Friday.

A proposal from Russia, China, Saudi Arabia, Algeria and Sudan calling for equal rights for all governments to manage internet numbering, naming, addressing and identification resources was eventually shelved. But there was fresh controversy on Wednesday night after an alternative non-binding resolution was debated which suggested the UN agency's leadership should continue to take the necessary steps for ITU to play an active and constructive role in the development of broadband and the multi-stakeholder model of the internet.

Read the full article

 

 Update: UN Disunited...

Internet censorship proposal threatens to derail UN telecoms conference


Link Here 10th December 2012  full story: Internet Censorship at the UN...United Nations debates worldwide internet censorship

itu logoAn unexpected new proposal for international internet censorship left a global conference on the issue on the edge of collapse.

The deep divisions over treatment of the internet came after a group of Arab states put forward a plan late on Friday that would require countries around the world to explicitly regulate internet companies. The proposal inevitably won the backing from repressive countries including Russia and China. The plan would extend current regulation of telecommunication companies to internet service companies.

The pitch for direct regulation came as an unwelcome surprise to delegations from the US and other countries that have supported the current light system of regulation for the internet. The conference has been hijacked by a group of countries that want to extend regulation of the internet, said one person familiar with the US position: This is completely unacceptable to the US point of view.

Tariq al-Awadhi, head of the Arab states delegation, said that it made sense for internet companies to be included in the regulations since this would help force them to work together with network operators.

The call for new regulation could lead to a break-down in the talks, according to people involved in the discussions. The US delegation will refuse to support anything that extends regulation in a way that damages internet freedom and has full backing from Washington to walk out on the talks if necessary, said the person familiar with the US position.

 

 Update: We Fight Censorship...

US House of Representatives votes against UN control of the internet


Link Here 7th December 2012  full story: Internet Censorship at the UN...United Nations debates worldwide internet censorship

US SenateThe United States Congress may be a mess and the most unruly and uncompromising bunch in the land but they all apparently think that the UN should not be setting policy on the Internet. To that end, members of the House of Representatives - Democrats and Republicans - voted unanimously (397-0) against the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) and the United Nations' efforts to push increased government control over the Internet.

The vote is a declaration against the goings-on at the World Conference on International Telecommunications in Dubai. The goal of the conference is to update telecommunications regulations that haven't been updated since 1988. Those International Telecommunications Regulations (ITRs) do not address the Internet and other growing technologies.

The fear among advocacy groups is that counties that want to control their population's access to a free internet such as North Korea, China, Russia, Iran, and Syria will use the conference as a way to push their own agendas. Those agendas include eliminating anonymity from the Internet, limits on free speech and the surveillance of internet traffic they deem to be bad. This also includes everything from prohibitions on copyright violations and pornography to prohibitions on defamation and political speech.

 

 Offsite Article: New study of Blasphemy law around the world...


Link Here 6th December 2012
According to a Pew Forum study released last week, 8 out of 45 European countries have blasphemy laws on their books while 35 of them have laws against the defamation of religion in general or hate speech against members of a faith.

See article from secularism.org.uk

 

 Updated: UN Internet Toll Keepers?...

Google warns that a UN internet group threatens the free and open internet


Link Here 24th November 2012  full story: Internet Censorship at the UN...United Nations debates worldwide internet censorship

Google logoGoogle has warned that a forthcoming UN-organised conference threatens the free and open internet .

Government representatives are set to agree a new information and communications treaty in December. It has been claimed some countries will try to wrest oversight of the net's technical specifications and domain name system from US bodies to an international organisation.

Google has asked web users to add their name to an online petition to support its view.

The [UN agency] International Telecommunication Union (ITU) is bringing together regulators from around the world to renegotiate a decades-old communications treaty, it wrote on its Take Action site.

Some proposals could permit governments to censor legitimate speech - or even allow them to cut off internet access.

Other proposals would require services like YouTube, Facebook, and Skype to pay new tolls in order to reach people across borders. This could limit access to information - particularly in emerging markets.

Google added that it was concerned that only governments have a voice at the ITU and not companies or others who had a stake in the net, concluding that the World Conference on International Telecommunications (Wcit) was the wrong place to make decisions about the internet's future.

The ITU is not openly publishing each government's proposals ahead of the conference, however a site called Wcitleaks, run by researchers at George Mason University, has revealed some of the details. Most recently these included a proposal from Russia suggesting that the US should have less control over the internet's operation.

Parts of the US tech industry have also been concerned by remarks by the ITU's secretary general, Dr Hamadoun Toure, that the meeting should address the current disconnect between sources of revenue and sources of costs, and to decide upon the most appropriate way to do so . Gary Shapiro CEA's Gary Shapiro says firms fear having to pay a toll to send traffic through countries' data networks

The ITU is hosting the conference to draw up the treaty between 3 to 14 December in Dubai.

Update: EU warns that a UN internet group threatens the free and open internet

23rd November  2012. See  article from  bbc.co.uk

EU flagThe UN should not be allowed to take over control of the internet, Euro MPs have warned.

Internet control currently lies largely with US-based groups such as Icann, which regulates the web address system. But reports in the Russian press have suggested the Kremlin and others wanted control of key internet systems passed to a UN agency.

The European Parliament has said the UN's International Telecommunications Union (ITU) was not the appropriate body to have authority. Members of the European Parliament backed a resolution which urged member states to reject changes to the International Telecommunication Regulations (ITR) which would negatively impact the internet, its architecture, operations, content and security, business relations, internet governance and the free flow of information online .

A site called Wcitleaks, run by researchers at George Mason University, has published several documents relating to the new treaty. Among them was a proposal from Russia suggesting that the US should have less control over the internet's operation. Russia said in a document:

Member states shall have equal rights to manage the internet, including in regard to the allotment, assignment and reclamation of internet numbering, naming, addressing and identification resources and to support for the operation and development of basic internet infrastructure.

Update: Ed Vaizey warns that a UN internet group threatens the free and open internet

24th November  2012.  See  article from  wired.co.uk

Ed VaizeyThe International Telecommunications Union (ITU) should not have a say over the future of the web, according to Ed Vaizey, the UK Minister for Culture, Communications and Creative Industries.

Vaizey was speaking to Wired.co.uk. The issue is that the ITU was set up to regulate telephony services. Since 1988, lines have blurred between telephony and internet services and as such the ITU wants to amend its rules to extend to internet governance. This is what Vaizey (as well as many other people and organisations including Google) disagree with:

We [the UK government] have made our position clear. We support the multi-stakeholder model for internet governance. Internet policy is made from the ground up, not top-down. The internet has grown effectively without interference from government. We don't think a treaty-based organisation should have a say over the internet.

Vaizey's feelings are echoed by a number of other companies and individuals. Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales told Wired.co.uk:

The ITU approach is completely broken. Secretive deliberations in which civil society groups (such as Wikipedia) are excluded from the process is hopelessly broken.

 

 Update: UN Internet Toll Keepers?...

Google warns that a UN internet group threatens the free and open internet


Link Here 22nd November 2012  full story: Internet Censorship at the UN...United Nations debates worldwide internet censorship

Google logoGoogle has warned that a forthcoming UN-organised conference threatens the free and open internet .

Government representatives are set to agree a new information and communications treaty in December. It has been claimed some countries will try to wrest oversight of the net's technical specifications and domain name system from US bodies to an international organisation.

Google has asked web users to add their name to an online petition to support its view.

The [UN agency] International Telecommunication Union (ITU) is bringing together regulators from around the world to renegotiate a decades-old communications treaty, it wrote on its Take Action site.

Some proposals could permit governments to censor legitimate speech - or even allow them to cut off internet access.

Other proposals would require services like YouTube, Facebook, and Skype to pay new tolls in order to reach people across borders. This could limit access to information - particularly in emerging markets.

Google added that it was concerned that only governments have a voice at the ITU and not companies or others who had a stake in the net, concluding that the World Conference on International Telecommunications (Wcit) was the wrong place to make decisions about the internet's future.

The ITU is not openly publishing each government's proposals ahead of the conference, however a site called Wcitleaks, run by researchers at George Mason University, has revealed some of the details. Most recently these included a proposal from Russia suggesting that the US should have less control over the internet's operation.

Parts of the US tech industry have also been concerned by remarks by the ITU's secretary general, Dr Hamadoun Toure, that the meeting should address the current disconnect between sources of revenue and sources of costs, and to decide upon the most appropriate way to do so . Gary Shapiro CEA's Gary Shapiro says firms fear having to pay a toll to send traffic through countries' data networks

The ITU is hosting the conference to draw up the treaty between 3 to 14 December in Dubai.

 

 Offsite Article: Religion and free speech: it's complicated...


Link Here 22nd November 2012
For centuries, free speech and religion have been cast as opponents. Index looks at the complicated relationship between religion and free speech

See article from indexoncensorship.org

 

 Offsite Article: UN Censored...


Link Here 16th November 2012  full story: Internet Censorship at the UN...United Nations debates worldwide internet censorship
Act now to stop unaccountable, censor-friendly UN agency from hijacking control of the Internet!

See article from boingboing.net

 

  Broken Promises on Human Rights...

UN groups calls on an end to nasty adultery laws


Link Here 2nd November 2012

UN logoA United Nations group of independent experts has urged countries to eliminate laws that classify adultery as a criminal offence, noting that they give rise to punishments that range from fines to flogging and death by stoning or hanging.

Adultery must not be classified as a criminal offence at all, said Kamala Chandrakirana, who currently heads the Working Group on the issue of discrimination against women in law and in practice.

Established by the Geneva-based Human Rights Council in September 2010, the Working Group's focus is charged with identifying ways to eliminate laws that discriminate against women or are discriminatory to them in terms of implementation or impact, and helping States to ensure greater empowerment for women in all fields.

Ms. Chandrakirana noted that in many countries, adultery continues to be a crime punishable with severe penalties:

Provisions in penal codes often do not treat women and men equally and establish harsher sanctions for women, and in some countries, rules of evidence value women's testimony as half that of a man's.

We urge all Governments which retain criminalization of adultery and allow the imposition of fines, imprisonment, flogging, death by stoning or hanging for convictions of adultery, to repeal any such provisions and to ensure that all accused enjoy their rights to a fair trial.

In a statement issued at the end of the Working Group's fifth session in Geneva, the Working Group's experts recognized that in accordance with some traditions, customs and different legal systems, adultery may constitute a civil offence with legal consequences in divorce cases. However, they stressed that this does not mean it is an offence that is punishable by imprisonment, stoning or hanging, among other practices.

 

 Offsite Article: The global war on free speech...


Link Here 2nd November 2012
T It's not just China and Russia: editors in Greece and Hungary are being harassed, while Britain's straitened press is in danger of being cowed by powerful interests and excessive regulation. By John Kampfner

See article from telegraph.co.uk

 

 Update: Condoning Violence...

Saudi suggests that violence protests are the fault of internet content rather than the violent participants


Link Here 24th October 2012  full story: Internet Censorship at the UN...United Nations debates worldwide internet censorship

Saudi flagWhile most of the Internet governance world's focus is on the World Conference on International Telecommunications (WCIT) coming this December, which will renegotiate the International Telecommunications Regulation treaty, the ITU has already begun preparations for another global conference next year, the World Telecommunications Policy Forum (WTPF). WTPF will consider a broader range of issues, certainly including Internet governance and public policy, including Internet content.

Up until now the internet has been formalised as:

A decentralized and open system, which must be allowed to enable the world's citizens to connect freely and express themselves consistent with fundamental principles of freedom of expression, while taking into consideration national security or of public order, or of public health or morals.

However Saudi Arabia is not impressed be the definition about the limits of freedom of expression, and has published a contribution suggesting increased censorship:

Freedom of expression is a recognized fundamental principle but is subject to considerations of national security, public order, public health and public morals (Art. 19 of International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights -1966, and Art. 34 of the ITU Constitution). It is also recognized that national mores differ -- what may be considered acceptable free speech in one country may be considered an offensive and unacceptable in another. Bearing in mind that countries cannot apply their own laws to acts in another country, there is a crying need for international collaboration to address freedom of expression which clearly disregards public order. An obvious example is the current anti-Islamic film on YouTube which was created with the clear intent of conveying hatred. Any reasonable person would know that this film would foment violence and, indeed, many innocent persons have died and been injured with this film as a root cause. Yet neither the authors nor the content provider are being held accountable for their responsibility to maintain public order. This behavior, along with other malicious and criminal activities such as child pornography, identity theft, spam, denial of service attacks, and malware aimed at destroying or crippling businesses, inter alia, must be addressed by states in a collaborative and cooperative environment and strongly underscores the need for enhanced cooperation.

'Enhanced cooperation' seems to be a UN term for 'cooperation' enforced by governments.

 

 Update: Insulted by the Lack of Support...

The OIC seems to have given up on its campaign for an international blasphemy law


Link Here 16th October 2012  full story: Defamation of Religion...OIC pushes for global blasphemy laws at UN

OIC flagEkmeleddin Ihsanoglu, secretary general of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), said the body would not try again for United Nations support to ban insults to religion.

We could not convince them, said the Turkish head of the 57-member organisation which had tried from 1998 until 2011 to get a United Nations-backed ban on blasphemy:

The European countries don't vote with us, the United States doesn't vote with us.

Ihsanoglu told a conference in Istanbul at the weekend that the OIC had failed to win a ban at the United Nations and would not revive its long diplomatic campaign for one. Asked about recent media reports that the OIC wanted to resume the campaign for a blasphemy ban, he said:

I never said this and I know this will never happen.

 

 Offsite Article: Tolerance is the basis of all our freedoms...


Link Here 13th October 2012
In a free society, everyone, even those we consider repugnant, must have the liberty to express themselves and their ideas.

See article from spiked-online.com

 

  Freedom on the Net...

Freedom House report details worldwide diverse threats to internet freedom


Link Here 2nd October 2012

freedom house freedom on the net 2012 Brutal attacks against bloggers, politically motivated surveillance, proactive manipulation of web content, and restrictive laws regulating speech online are among the diverse threats to internet freedom emerging over the past two years, according to a new study released by Freedom House.

Despite these threats, Freedom on the Net 2012: A Global Assessment of Internet and Digital Media found that increased pushback by civil society, technology companies, and independent courts resulted in several notable victories.

Sanja Kelly, project director for Freedom on the Net at Freedom House said:

The findings clearly show that threats to internet freedom are becoming more diverse. As authoritarian rulers see that blocked websites and high-profile arrests draw local and international condemnation, they are turning to murkier---but no less dangerous---methods for controlling online conversations.

Freedom on the Net 2012, which identifies key trends in internet freedom in 47 countries, evaluates each country based on barriers to access, limits on content, and violations of user rights.

The study found that Estonia had the greatest degree of internet freedom among the countries examined, while the United States ranked second. Iran, Cuba, and China received the lowest scores in the analysis. Eleven other countries received a ranking of Not Free, including Belarus, Saudi Arabia, Uzbekistan, and Thailand. A total of 20 of the 47 countries examined experienced a negative trajectory in internet freedom since January 2011, with Bahrain, Pakistan, and Ethiopia registering the greatest declines.

Several downgrades, particularly in the Middle East, reflected intensified censorship, arrests, and violence against bloggers as the authorities sought to quell public calls for reform. In Saudi Arabia, Ethiopia, Uzbekistan, and China, authorities imposed new restrictions after observing the key role that social media played in the uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia.

At the same time, 14 countries registered a positive trajectory, with Tunisia and Burma experiencing the largest improvements following dramatic political openings. The remaining gains occurred almost exclusively in democracies, highlighting the crucial importance of broader institutions of democratic governance in upholding internet freedom.

Countries at Risk: As part of its analysis, Freedom House identified a number of important countries that are seen as particularly vulnerable to deterioration in the coming 12 months: Azerbaijan, Libya, Malaysia, Pakistan, Russia, Rwanda, and Sri Lanka.

Key Trends

  • New laws restrict free speech: In 19 of the 47 countries examined, new laws or directives have been passed since January 2011 that either restrict online speech, violate user privacy, or punish individuals who post content deemed objectionable or undesirable.
     
  • Bloggers and ordinary users increasingly face arrest for political speech on the web: In 26 of the 47 countries, including several democratic states, at least one blogger or ICT user was arrested for content posted online or sent via text message.
     
  • Physical attacks against government critics are intensifying: In 19 of the 47 countries assessed, a blogger or internet user was tortured, disappeared, beaten, or brutally assaulted as a result of their online posts. In five countries, an activist or citizen journalist was killed in retribution for posting information that exposed human rights abuses.
     
  • Paid commentators, hijacking attacks are proliferating: The phenomenon of paid pro-government commentators has spread over the past two years from a small set of countries to 14 of the 47 countries examined. Meanwhile, government critics faced politically motivated cyberattacks in 19 of the countries covered.
     
  • Surveillance is increasing, with few checks on abuse: In 12 of the 47 countries examined, a new law or directive disproportionately enhanced surveillance or restricted user anonymity. In authoritarian countries, surveillance often targets government critics, while in middle-performing countries, safeguards for user rights and oversight procedures are lagging far behind governments' technical capacities and legal powers, leading to abuse.
     
  • Citizen pushback is yielding results: A significant uptick in civic activism related to internet freedom, alongside important court decisions, has produced notable victories in a wide set of countries. Advocacy campaigns, mass demonstrations, website blackouts, and constitutional court decisions have resulted in censorship plans being shelved, harmful legislation being overturned, and jailed activists being released. In 23 of the 47 countries assessed, at least one such victory occurred.

Other Significant Country Findings:

  • China: China is home to the world's largest population of internet users, but also the most advanced system of controls---one that has become even more restrictive. In 2011, the authorities abducted dozens of activists and bloggers, holding them incommunicado for weeks and sentencing several to prison. The government also tightened controls over popular domestic microblogging platforms, pressuring key firms to more stringently censor political content and to register their users' real names. Meanwhile, China's influence as an incubator for sophisticated restrictions was felt across the globe, with governments such as Belarus, Uzbekistan, and Iran using China as a model for their own new internet controls.
     
  • Iran: The Iranian authorities used more nuanced tactics in a continued campaign against internet freedom that began after disputed elections in 2009. These tactics included: upgrading content filtering technology, hacking digital certificates to undermine user privacy, and moving closer to establishing a National Internet. Iranian judicial authorities also meted out some of the harshest sentences in the world for online activities, including imposing the death penalty on three bloggers and IT professionals.
     
  • Russia: The internet is the last relatively uncensored platform for public debate in Russia. However, since January 2011, massive distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks and smear campaigns to discredit online activists have intensified. After online tools played a critical role in galvanizing massive anti-government protests that began in December 2011, the Kremlin signaled its intention to further tighten control over internet communications.
     
  • Pakistan: Disconcerting recent developments in Pakistan include a ban on encryption and virtual private networks (VPNs), a death sentence imposed for transmitting allegedly blasphemous content via text message, and a one-day block on all mobile phone networks in Balochistan province. Several other initiatives to increase censorship---including a plan to filter text messages by keyword and a proposal to develop a nationwide internet firewall---were officially shelved in response to civil society advocacy campaigns, although some suspect that the government is still working on them behind closed doors.
     
  • Egypt: The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) maintained many of its predecessor's tactics of internet control, while intensifying others. Mobile phones, the internet, and social media remained under vigorous surveillance, bandwidth speeds were throttled during specific events, and SCAF-affiliated commentators manipulated online discussions. Several activists and bloggers were intimidated, beaten, shot at, or tried in military courts for insulting the military power or disturbing social peace. Despite recent elections, the future trajectory of internet freedom in Egypt remains precarious and uncertain.
     
  • United States: Internet access in the United States remains open and fairly free compared with the rest of the world. Courts have consistently held that prohibitions against government regulation of speech apply to material published on the internet, but the government's surveillance powers are cause for some concern. In early 2012, campaigns by civil society and technology companies helped to halt passage of the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the Protect IP Act (PIPA), which were criticized for their potentially negative effects on free speech.
     
  • Azerbaijan: As the host of the Internet Governance Forum (IGF) in November 2012, the government of Azerbaijan has been eager to promote itself as a leader of ICT innovation, but has also slightly increased restrictions on internet freedom. Rather than significantly censoring online content, the government has employed tactics such as raiding cybercafes to gather information on user identities, arresting politically active netizens on trumped-up charges, and harassing activists and their family members. In a worrisome development, the authorities ramped up their surveillance capabilities of mobile phones in early 2012.

 

 Update: Negative Stereotyped Religion...

OIC re-opens calls for international blasphemy law


Link Here 26th September 2012  full story: Defamation of Religion...OIC pushes for global blasphemy laws at UN

OIC flag The world's largest Islamic body has called for expressions of Islamophobia to be curbed by law, just as some countries restrict anti-Semitic speech or Holocaust denial.

Pakistan, speaking on behalf of the 56 countries that form the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), condemned a video made in the United States that supposedly defamed Islam and the religious character Mohammad.

Pakistan's ambassador Zamir Akram said in a speech to the UN Human Rights Council:

Incidents like this clearly demonstrate the urgent need on the part of states to introduce adequate protection against acts of hate crimes, hate speech, discrimination, intimidation and coercion resulting from defamation and negative stereotyping of religions, and incitement to religious hatred, as well as denigration of venerated personalities,

The Obama administration has condemned the film entitled Innocence of Muslims as disgusting . But Western countries remain determined to resist restrictions on freedom of speech and have already voiced disquiet about the repressive effect of blasphemy laws in Muslim countries such as Pakistan.

The OIC signalled last week that it would revive long-standing attempts to make insults against religions an international criminal offence.

A resolution submitted by African countries and backed by the OIC calls on states to introduce into domestic criminal law a provision ensuring that those responsible for crimes with racist or xenophobic motivation are prosecuted. The text, which deplores the targeting of religious symbols and venerated persons is one of the most contentious of the 32 resolutions to be voted on by the 47-member forum this week.

Update: Christians grab a few muslim coat tails

26th September 2012. See article from anglicancommunion.org

anglican communion logo Anglican leaders across the Communion have spoken out about The Innocence of Muslims .

Both Anglican and Catholic Archbishops in New Zealand have condemned the film. In the Middle East, the Most Rev. Mouneer Anis, President Bishop in Egypt (one of the countries directly affected by protest and violence) has said: We here made it clear that we Christians reject this kind of provocative film .

As an attempt to avoid future hostility, Anis united with fellow bishops and has written a letter to Ban Ki-Moon, Secretary General of the United Nations, asking for a declaration that outlaws intentional and deliberate insulting or defamation of persons (such as prophets), symbols, texts and constructs of belief deemed holy by people of faith .

European Anglicans have also responded to the video. The Bishop in charge of the Convocation of Episcopal Churches in Europe, Rt. Rev. Pierre Whalon, denounced the film. According to Whalon, those who planned and created the film would have much to answer for when they came before the judgment seat of God. He went on to say that Christians and Muslims alike should continue to work to defeat attempts of extremists of every religion to create fear, hatred and violence. Only love can cast out fear , said Whalon.

 

 Update: Blocking Innocence...

Global rumblings against the Innocence of Muslims continue


Link Here 25th September 2012  full story: The Innocence of Muslims...Muslim world gets wound up by silly movie

Russia flag The private Summa Telekom firm, which provides Internet access in Russia's mostly Muslim republic of Daghestan in the North Caucasus, has blocked YouTube to prevent access to a controversial film trailer mocking the religious character Muhammad.

Company representatives said on September 22 that the popular video-sharing online resource had been blocked in accordance with a request from law-enforcement officials to prevent viewing the film Innocence Of Muslims.

Russia's prosecutor-general filed a petition last week requesting the movie be qualified as extremist and banned in Russia. Moscow's Tverskoi District Court is scheduled to start hearings on the petition on October 17.

Update: Threats of a ban

28th September 2012. See  article from  voanews.com

Russia's communications minister is threatening to ban YouTube in the country if the popular Internet site doesn't remove a video mocking Islam.

Although Moscow courts have yet to grant prosecutors' request, critics say banning sites is just another way for the Kremlin to clamp down on the opposition in the country, which is home to roughly 20 million Muslims.

The YouTube video mocking Islam is still up and available for viewing in Russia.

Update: Meanwhile In Nigeria

25th September 2012. See  article from  voanews.com

Nigeria flag Thousands of Muslims protesters in Nigeria have called for African leaders to censor the anti-Islamic video that has caused protests and riots around the world. The city of Kaduna has been the site of many deadly sectarian clashes between Muslims and Christians, but the demonstration was peaceful.

Like in many other cities around the world in recent weeks, thousands of protesters in Kaduna Monday called out God is Great! and Praise to the Prophet! Soldiers surrounded the demonstration and the event ended promptly after the scheduled three hours.

Update: Meanwhile In the Philippines

25th September 2012. See  article from  sunstar.com.ph

Philippines flag A group of Muslims has urged Philippines' Supreme Court to ban the showing of Innocence of Muslims in the country for mocking the religious character Muhammad.

A petition for temporary restraining order was filed by Bangsamoro Nation, a group which supposedly represents the sentiments of the seven to 10 million Muslims in the Philippines. The petition reads in part:

Muslims cannot allow this kind of insult to their prophet Mohammad and to the Islamic religion in general. Unless the State prohibits the showing of the subject film inimical to the national security, actual or imminent danger of violence shall be expected.

After the full merits of this petition has been considered by this Honorable Tribunal the anti-Muslim film...be forever, permanently and perpetually banned for public exhibition in all kinds of media outlet within (the) Philippines, such as theaters, television and internet with its websites YouTube, Google or any other kind of website.

It added that the government's Information and Communications Technology Office should be directed to ban, prevent and prohibit the continued posting of the film in video-sharing site YouTube, Google or any other website until the Court rules on the merits of the petition.

Update: Banned in the Philippines...Except on YouTube

26th September 2012.  See  article from  manilastandardtoday.com

The Philippines' Supreme Court has ordered the Movie Television Review and Classification Board to stop the screening and showing of the anti-Islam movie Innocence of Muslims after a group of Filipino Muslims petitioned against it.

The high court ordered the board to stop the showing of the movie on television and in movie houses.

However, the high court's order does not apply to Google and YouTube.

Update: Banned in Kyrgyzstan

30th September 2012.  See  article from  zeenews.india.com

A Bishkek court ruled the film Innocence of Muslims extremist Sep 21 and banned its screening.

Update: Protest in Karachi

30th September 2012. See  article from  rferl.or

Thousands of people have taken to the streets of Pakistan's biggest city, Karachi, in the latest protest against a film deemed anti-Islamic which was privately made in the United States.

The protesters, who included activists from the hard-line Sunni Tehreek organization, marched down the city's main M.A. Jinnah road on September 29 while some trampled on the American flag.

Shafiq Ahmad, a senior police officer in Karachi, said there were at least 15,000 protesters while rally organizers claimed millions of people participate

 

 Offsite Article: Free speech is the only answer to bigotry...


Link Here 25th September 2012  full story: The Innocence of Muslims...Muslim world gets wound up by silly movie
The West must stand firm in the face of a barrage of intolerance from militant Muslims

See article from telegraph.co.uk

 

 Update: Do You Want the 15 Minute Insult or the Full Half Hour?...

Hizbollah threatens global repercussions if the full version of Innocence of Muslims is release


Link Here 19th September 2012  full story: The Innocence of Muslims...Muslim world gets wound up by silly movie

hezbollah logo Hizbollah warned of very dangerous global repercussions if an anti-Islam film is released in its entirety, as a fatwa was issued against the film's producer who has gone into hiding with his family.

The warning from Hizbollah's Hassan Nasrallah came as the death toll from a week of violence sparked by the movie rose to 19.

Tens of thousands of demonstrators poured into the streets of southern Beirut to denounce the film at Nasrallah's request, and the head of the powerful Shiite Muslim group surprised supporters by making a rare public appearance.

Meanwhile In Afghanistan

See  article from  au.news.yahoo.com

Afghanistan flag A female suicide car bomber attacked a van in Kabul on Tuesday, killing 12 people, including eight South Africans, in an assault insurgents said was revenge for an anti-Islam film made in America.

The bombing on a highway to Kabul airport was the second suicide attack in the city in 10 days.

Afghanistan's second largest insurgent group, Hezb-i-Islami, claimed responsibility, saying the bombing was carried out by a woman to avenge the Innocence of Muslims film.

The bombing was in retaliation for the insult to our Prophet, spokesman Zubair Sidiqi said in a telephone call to AFP.

Meanwhile Russia considers blocking YouTube

 See  article from  english.ruvr.ru

Russia flag YouTube may become unavailable for Russians over the notorious film Innocence of Muslims posted there.

The Russian Public Prosecutor's Office has recognized the film as extremist and insulting for Muslims. The Public Prosecutor's Office has now registered a claim with a court to forbid the circulation of the film in Russia.

No court decision has been made yet but the Public Prosecutor's Office has already instructed the Public Oversight Commission to take respective steps.

Hopwever the head of the Chair of the Communications Theory of the Journalism Department of Moscow State University Ivan Zasursky believes.

Even if the law allows putting YouTube on the list of sites to be blocked, it is not compulsory to do so. YouTube is a law-abiding company in all countries where it broadcasts. In some Arab countries the film is unavailable. I believe that in Russia it will be unavailable too.

Update: Cast duped

21st September 2012. See  article from  guardian.co.uk

Cindy Lee Garcia, the American actor who appeared in the controversial anti-Muslim film clip that sparked supposed 'outrage' in worldwide protests last week, has failed in a bid to have it removed from YouTube.

Garcia filed the lawsuit on Wednesday citing death threats against her and her inability to visit her grandchildren. Garcia said she was tricked by Nakoula and that the script she saw mentioned neither Muslims nor Muhammad. She called it demoralising and degrading . Garcia became involved when she responded to an advert for a historical Arabian Desert adventure film, the document says. The film was later altered with anti-Islamic voiceovers.

Update: Banned in Brazil

3rd October 2012. See  article from  totaltele.com

Brazil A Brazilian judge ordered Google to remove versions of an anti-Islam film from YouTube within 10 days.

The National Union of Islamic Entities, or UNI, sued Google's Brazilian unit to remove all versions of the film, called Innocence of the Muslims , that were posted on YouTube, according to court documents.

Judge Gilson Delgado Miranda said in his decision that Google will be fined 10,000 Brazilian reais ($4,926) per day if it doesn't comply with the order.

The judge acknowledged the complexity of the case. He denied UNI's request that Google prevent the video from being uploaded in future, but encouraged UNI to make him aware of new uploads of the controversial film, saying that Google would then have to remove them.

It creates a clear conflict between freedom of expression and the need to protect individuals and groups against protests that could induce or incite religious discrimination, the judge said in his decision.

 

 Extract: Nothing, however vile, justifies censorship...

Even in the hardest of cases such as this anti-Islamic film, the old arguments against censorship remain the best


Link Here 16th September 2012  full story: The Innocence of Muslims...Muslim world gets wound up by silly movie

Free Speech Awareness Rectangular Sticker The friends of freedom should not make exceptions because freedom's enemies never do. Admittedly, the trailer for Innocence of Muslims (one of its many titles) makes the temptation to allow just one exception close to overwhelming. It advertises an amateur and adolescent piece of religious propaganda that depicts Muhammad as a violent and lascivious fool. Copts probably made it. As there is no great difference between Christian and Islamist extremists, why not intervene in this clash of fundamentalisms and stop one sect inciting another sect to violence?

...Read the full article

 

 Offsite Article: Index opposes ITU authority over the internet...


Link Here 11th September 2012
Index on Censorship joins civil society groups in voicing concerns about proposals made by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) that would threaten the openness of the internet

See article from indexoncensorship.org

 

  Raaz 3...

The first Indian film to get an R Rating in the US


Link Here 9th September 2012

raaz 3 The first Indian film to receive an R rating (17A) from the MPAA, this third installment in the RAAZ (Secret) series offers up relatively tame sexual content and campy violence.

The film was rated R for some violent content.

Meanwhile at the BBFC

See article from bbfc.co.uk

The BBFC rated the film as 15 uncut for strong horror and gory images.

The BBFC further explained:

RAAZ 3 is a Hindi language horror thriller about a fading film star who places a black magic curse on another actress who has stolen her limelight. It is rated 15 for strong horror and gory images.

There are a number of scenes in which the victim of the curse is terrorised by the supernatural. In one scene, a hand bursts out of a TV screen and grabs her by the throat and in another scene she is pursued by a scary clown character inside an empty film studio. The sense of tension and threat is increased by a loud, jarring music score. In a further scene, the woman is attacked by swarms of flying cockroaches inside the bathroom of a party mansion. She screams in terror and is forced to rip off her clothes and run outside. None of the threat is sadistic or sexualised in nature.

There are also some gory images, including a witch doctor being decapitated when he is thrown backwards by a demon, a man being stabbed in the throat, and acid being poured over a woman's body, which causes her flesh to burn. There is also sight of demonic hands, covered in deformed flesh and maggots.

RAAZ 3 also contains three uses of strong language and two scenes of implied sexual activity.

Meanwhile in the UAE

See  article from  mid-day.com

The Censor Board of the group of seven UAE emirates has banned the film from being released there. Sources say that sexually explicit scenes and the portrayal of the spiritual world in the film apparently didn't go down very well with the officials of the Censor Board.

Vijay Singh, CEO of Fox Star, producer and distributors of the film confirms the news and states:

 The board has an issue with the film over its adult content. But we are in talks with them right now.

 

  Titanic Level of Easy Offence...

Cruiser paid off after supposed offence from comedian's Irish jokes


Link Here 3rd September 2012

p and o cruises logo Cruise lines may have to start censoring on-board comedy routines. The Guardian reports that an Irish man who brought a civil claim against P&O owners Carnival in a UK court has won an out-of-court settlement

John Wolfe a retired builder from Dublin, complained to P&O after he and his wife Joan sailed on a worldwide cruise on the Oriana five years ago when, he claimed, two comedians entertained passengers by telling a series of Irish jokes in their routines. The Guardian says he claimed that he found the jokes deeply offensive and left him feeling humiliated.

After allegedly receiving reassurances that such jokes would be banned and they were given 1,000 of vouchers, the Wolfes were surprised and upset to hear similar jokes when they took another P&O cruise in 2008 to the Caribbean on board the Artemis, reports the Guardian.

Wolfe brought a civil claim against Carnival Plc - the owners of P&O - under race relations legislation as well as the European Union's race directive. The case was settled out of court, reportedly for a five-figure sum.

 

 Offsite Article: Better the Tyrant You Know...


Link Here 27th August 2012
We've come to believe that freedom is the natural human condition, which only tyrants prevent everyone from enjoying - but when a tyrant is toppled, we can't know what will come next, says John Gray.

See article from bbc.co.uk

 

 Update: No Need. There Are Enough Internet Censors Already...

US to oppose UN bid to censor the internet


Link Here 2nd August 2012  full story: Internet Censorship at the UN...United Nations debates worldwide internet censorship

US flagThe United States will oppose a bid to revise a global treaty to bring the Internet under UN control, the head of a US delegation has said.

The U.S. will submit its formal proposal for the December conference held by the International Telecommunications Union, a UN agency which set global telecom rules, said Terry Kramer, the special envoy named for the talks.

Kramer reiterated Washington's position opposing proposals by Russia, China and others to expand the authority of the ITU to regulate the Internet.

U.S. officials, lawmakers and technology leaders have expressed concern that the December conference to be held in Dubai could seek changes threatening the openness of the Internet and its so-called multi-stakeholder model. Some in the U.S. say the effort could give governments greater authority to filter or censor information.

 

  UN Agrees that Internet Access is a Human Right...

And Hilary Clinton blasts countries like Britain for persecuting people over a few tweets


Link Here 7th July 2012

UN logoThe United Nations Human Rights Council has unanimously agreed that access to the Internet is a basic human right, in a resolution stating that access to the Internet and online freedom of expression should be guaranteed.

US ambassador Eileen Donahoe told reporters:

It's the first ever U.N. resolution affirming that human rights in the digital realm must be protected and promoted to the same extent and with the same commitment as human rights in the physical world.

US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton commented, obviously having a knock at UK's persecution of Twitter users:

This resolution is a welcome addition in the fight for the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms online.

We are witnessing an alarming surge in the number of cases involving government censorship and persecution of individuals for their actions online - sometimes for just a single tweet or text message.

 

 Update: A Free Debate...For the Moment...

World internet censorship to be discussed at the World Conference on International Telecommunications in December 2012


Link Here 26th June 2012  full story: Internet Censorship at the UN...United Nations debates worldwide internet censorship

wcit 2012 logo Dozens of countries have had closed-door meetings in preparation for an upcoming worldwide debate over internet censorship. The United Nations is looking at possible amendments to a telecommunications treaty that could amount to worldwide Internet censorship.

The World Conference on International Telecommunications is to be held in Dubai this December and more than 190 countries are expected to attend. One of the matters to be discussed at the conference is changes to a 24-year-old telecommunications treaty called the International Telecommunications Regulations, according to the Associated Press.

In a U.N. document with proposed amendments to the treaty that came out last month, Russia said the public should have unrestricted access to international telecommunication services, except in cases where international telecommunication services are used for the purpose of interfering in the internal affairs or undermining the sovereignty, national security, territorial integrity and public safety of other states, or to divulge information of a sensitive nature.

The ramifications of such changes to the International Telecommunications Regulations could be detrimental for citizens of countries that use the Internet to voice government opposition. For example, if Russia's suggested proposal goes through, events such as the Arab Spring could be silenced.

The U.S. delegation has promised to block any language that would allow for any censorship.

Hamadoun Toure, secretary general of the U.N. agency that oversees the treaty, told the Associated Press that all proposals must be agreed upon to by all member states or else they would not be included in the final document.

 

3rd May

 Offsite Article: Committee to Project Journalists Reports its 10 Most Censored Countries...

Link Here
Eritrea, North Korea, Syria, Iran, Equatorial Guinea, Uzbekistan, Burma, Saudi Arabia, Cuba and Belarus

See article from cpj.org

 

24th April   

Hopefully Inward Looking Too...

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EU calls for the monitoring of internet censorship and an export block on companies assisting autocratic regimes
Link Here

European Parliament logo The European Parliament has called for new rules to monitor Internet censorship by autocratic regimes. It voted overwhelmingly in favor of the motion with, 580 votes for, 28 against and 74 abstentions.

British MEP, Richard Howitt, said that new technologies have massive implications for human rights and that the European Union needs a coherent policy: There is a race between those harnessing new media to the purpose of liberation and those who seek to use it for repression.

The resolution calls for the European Commission to come up with new rules by 2013 to improve the monitoring of E.U. exports of technology that can be used to censor or block websites and monitor mobile communications. It also wants more accountability for companies that willfully sell to despotic regimes.

 

21st April   

Negativity Censor...

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Islamic Nations to launch international TV censor to promote positive images of the muslim world
Link Here
OIC flag A Turkish proposal to establish a broadcasting censor among 57 Muslim countries has been officially approved at the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) conference in Gabon.

The decision effectively empowers the OIC with new tools to promote broadcasting of a positive image of the Muslim world on member countries' television channels. It will be officially named The OIC Broadcast Regulatory Authorities Forum.

The OIC describes the forum as a platform intended to promote coordination, communication and cooperation among the authorities in charge of regulating broadcasting in member states, as well as to enhance the exchange of information, ideas and expertise on issues of common interest in the areas related to the services of the audiovisual media sector.

OIC officials underline that the broadcasting forum will be used in close coordination with a satellite TV channel to be launched under the OIC's name. The OIC will use the international satellite TV station to project the voice of the Muslim world, report on Islamic causes, defend Muslim interests within the framework of Islamic solidarity among OIC member states and stand up to the repeated defamation campaigns against Islam and Muslims.

 

18th April

 Offsite Article: Battle for the Internet...

Link Here
Internet censorship listed: how does each country compare?

See article from guardian.co.uk

 

2nd April   

Update: Will Surely be Blocked...

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Another bill to prevent US companies from exporting internet censorship capability
Link Here  full story: Supporting Internet Censorship...US multi-nationals support repressive censorship

US Senate The US House Foreign Affairs panel has approved legislation that seeks to bar U.S. companies from helping foreign countries in trying to censor the Internet or monitor their citizens' Internet or mobile communications.

The legislation approved by the Africa, Global Health and Human Rights Subcommittee would require the State Department to identify by name in its annual Country Report on Human Rights Practices the countries that restrict access to the Internet. It also would bar U.S. firms from exporting to these countries hardware or software that could be used to spy on or censor citizens.

The Global Online Freedom Act would also require companies listed on U.S. stock exchanges to disclose to the Securities and Exchange Commission what types of information they share with repressive regimes and whether they notify users when they block access to content at their request. Subcommittee Chairman Chris Smith, R-N.J., the bill's sponsor, has said this last provision would allow human rights activists to pressure U.S. companies not to engage in such practices.

Despite this, the bill faces an uphill battle in Congress. Smith has introduced similar versions of the legislation in past years but those measures haven't gone far.

 

17th March

 Offsite Article: Free Speech Under Fire...

Link Here
Western nations appear to have fallen out of love with free speech and are criminalizing more and more kinds of speech through banning hate speech, blasphemy and discriminatory language

See article from latimes.com

 

11th March   

Update: Just Not Cricket...

Libel tourism case as former New Zealand Cricketer sues in the UK over a dispute with an Indian tweeter primarily affecting his reputation in India
Link Here  full story: Censorship by Libel...British libel law allows the rich to censor the truth

uk tourism logoEx-New Zealand cricketer Chris Cairns, who is suing a former Indian Premier League boss over a Twitter posting, has his case heard by the UK High Court in the latest example of libel tourism.

Chris Cairns is taking legal action over a  January 2010 tweet by Lalit Modi alleging that he was involved in match fixing.

The action is taking place in London despite claims by Modi's lawyers that there were only 35 readers of the tweet in England and Wales. Evidence for Cairns put the figure at around 100.

Padraig Reidy of Index on Censorshop said:

The Cairns case is one of the most clear-cut cases of libel tourism we have seen.

While cricket is an international game, the alleged libel took place in India, concerned conduct in India, and primarily affects Cairns's reputation in India.

Plans to prevent libel tourism were put forward by the Government last year. The proposed new rules would block celebrities and businessman from bringing such actions in this country unless it could be proved that publication caused them substantial harm in England and Wales.

 

2nd March   

Update: We Need to Widen the Definition of Beauty to Include the Ugly...

Lynne Featherstone spouts touched up bollox at the UN
Link Here  full story: Photoshopped Models...Campaigners to ban photoshopped adverts

UN logoEqualities Minister Lynne Featherstone held a world-first United Nations event into the portrayal of women in the media on Wednesday 29 February.

She joined delegates in New York pontificate over the use of supposedly misleading images of women used by the media across the globe.

The minister warned how, in extreme cases, such images can lead to eating disorders and a rise in demand for cosmetic surgery, as well as damaging self-esteem.

Delegates discussed how the media use air-brushed perfect images and create a distorted vision of beauty that is unrepresentative and impossible to obtain. Distorted

Lynne Featherstone said:

We need to challenge this culture of conformity and widen the definition of beauty to include all ages, shapes, sizes and ethnicities. And we need to help people recognise that their value goes beyond just their physical appearance.

This is an issue affecting girls at an increasingly young age, with children of five worrying about dieting, and it is paramount that we work together to take action and support each other in every way we can.

 

28th February   

Update: In a Perfect World...

UN meeting to discuss body image
Link Here  full story: Photoshopped Models...Campaigners to ban photoshopped adverts

UN logoActress Geena Davis has teamed up with UK Equalities Minister Lynne Featherstone to challenge the portrayal of women in the global media.

The minister is at a UN summit this week where she will host the first international event about body image.

She will join UN delegates to talk about how education can be used to battle negative body image and the UK's Body Confidence campaign, which focuses on gender stereotyping in the media and highlights how misleading images can supposedly cause stress on younger women. She said:

Every day, women across the world are surrounded by body images which bear little or no resemblance to reality, whether that be the 'size zero or the perfect hourglass. These images can cause real damage to self-esteem.

If children continue to grow up in a world filled with images of uniform beauty and airbrushed perfection, future generations will never be happy in their own skin. This is why I am bringing the debate to the UN. Body confidence

Geena Davis, [with a 'prefect body'], welcomed the UK's body confidence campaign. She said:

Hollywood and the media have the power to shift attitudes and achieve social change, particularly in how our children value themselves and each other. There is a real need to dispel the myths of the 'perfect body that just don't match up to the real world.'

 

22nd February   

Updated: Interpol Enforces Saudi Totalitarianism...

Interpol threatens the free world and the very notion of justice
Link Here
interpol logo

  The world stabbed in the back?

Saudi Arabia has used Interpol's system to get a journalist arrested in Malaysia for supposedly insulting Muhammad on Twitter

Police in Kuala Lumpur said Hamza Kashgari was detained at the airport following a request by Interpol on behalf of the Saudi authorities.

Kashgari, a newspaper columnist, fled Saudi Arabia after posting a tweet on Mohammed's birthday that sparked more than 30,000 responses and several death threats. The posting, which was later deleted, read:

I have loved things about you and I have hated things about you and there is a lot I don't understand about you ... I will not pray for you.

More than 13,000 people joined a Facebook page titled The Saudi People Demand the Execution of Hamza Kashgari . Clerics joined in the call for blood with the demand that he be charged with apostasy, a religious offence punishable by death.

Jago Russell, the chief executive of the British charity Fair Trials International, which has campaigned against the blanket enforcement of Interpol red notices, said:

Interpol should be playing no part in Saudi Arabia's pursuit of Hamza Kashgari, however unwise his comments on Twitter.

If an Interpol red notice is the reason for his arrest and detention it would be a serious abuse of this powerful international body that is supposed to respect basic human rights (including to peaceful free speech) and to be barred from any involvement in religious or political cases.

Reports suggest that the Malaysian authorities intend to return him to his native country.

Update: Deportation shames Malaysia

13th February 2012. See  article from  bbc.co.uk
See also Saudi king arrests writer who abused the Prophet from  emirates247.com

Malaysian authorities have deported a Saudi journalist accused of supposedly insulting Muhammad via a tweet saying:

I have loved things about you and I have hated things about you and there is a lot I don't understand about you ... I will not pray for you.

Police confirmed to the BBC that Hamza Kashgari was sent back to Saudi Arabia on Sunday despite protests from human rights groups.

The nature of the charges against the individual in this case are a matter for the Saudi Arabian authorities, Malaysia's home ministry said in a statement.

Amnesty International has warned that Kashgari could be executed in Saudi Arabia if he is found guilty of apostasy.

If the Malaysian authorities hand over Hamza Kashgari to Saudi Arabia, they could end up complicit in any violations he suffers, said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui of Amnesty's Middle East division.

Kashgari is in big trouble as it was the the Saudi king, Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz, who ordered his arrest

Update: Trial by Religion

20th February 2012. See  article from  timesofindia.indiatimes.com

Saudi flagSaudi Arabia's mufti, the country's highest religious figure, has rejected calls to shift the trial of a Twitter user, who was accused of blasphemy, from religious courts to the information ministry.

Shaikh Abdul Aziz Bin Abdullah Al Shaikh said that Hamza Kashgari, charged of disrespecting God and insulting Mohammad in his Twitter account, will face trial in the country's religious-court only. The mufti claimed:

We are in a Muslim country and we have a fair justice system.

All matters related to justice should be reviewed by Shariah courts as God the Almighty said in the Holy Quran. The justice system in Saudi Arabia is fair.

Update: Reprehensible Malaysia

22nd February 2012. See  article from  indexoncensorship.org

Malaysia flagIt seems that the Malaysian authorities would have rather kept the arrest and deportation off the radar. However, the news began to spread. The authorities began trying to justify themselves and their intended actions.

It was suggested that the arrest was part of an Interpol initiative, though Interpol denied any knowledge of the matter.

Attempts were then made to characterise the affair as being part of an extradition exercise but Malaysia does not have an extradition treaty with Saudi Arabia.

Lawyers were appointed and began efforts to meet their client and to secure his release. They appear to have been given the run-around or kept in the dark about the fact that the authorities had already unilaterally decided to return Kashgari to Saudi Arabia. The procuring of an injunction from a High Court judge on Sunday to temporarily restrain the deportation came to nought; Kashgari had been deported earlier that morning despite awareness of the intended legal challenge.

One cannot help but question the manner in which the Malaysian authorities conducted themselves. Malaysia was under no legal obligation to return the journalist to Saudi Arabia and the two countries are not bound by an extradition treaty, meaning what Kashgari has done in Saudi Arabia is not of relevance in Malaysia. Kashgari had not committed any offence in Malaysia and had entered the country on a valid travel document. He was not intending to stay in Malaysia; his final port of call was New Zealand.

...Read the full article

 

21st February

 Offsite Article Attacks on the Press in 2011...

Link Here
Committee to Protect Journalists issue their annual report

See article from cpj.org

 

9th February

 Offsite Article: Preaching Tolerance Whilst Practising Intolerance...

Link Here  full story: Defamation of Religion...OIC pushes for global blasphemy laws at UN
Islamic countries' 'religious intolerance' move in the UN ignores oppression at home

See article from blog.indexoncensorship.org

 

4th February   

Twisted Censorship...

Twisted Metal computer game has a mixed reception from the world's game censors
Link Here

Twisted Metal Playstation 3 Britain's game censors at the BBFC have awarded Twisted Metal an uncut 18 rating for strong bloody violence.

They kindly explain their decision:

Twisted Meta l is a racing game in which drivers uses various weapons to destroy opponents. The game was classified 18 for strong bloody violence.

The game includes a series of cutscenes which use a mixture of live action and CGI to tell the back-story of each character. These include an attack on a family, a defensive attack on a character with a pair of scissors, and a dead woman lying on the road. Although the BBFC's Guidelines permit strong violence at 15 , the dark tone of the stories and the involvement of a sadistic and predatory serial killer mean the game is more appropriately classified at 18 .

The game also includes infrequent use of strong language.

The game in its original format is rated Mature in the US, which is basically a 17 age rating.

However the game seems to be causing problems in Europe, presumably with the German censors who don't care for violence in video games. The European version of the game has therefore been delayed in order to tone down the violent content. Whilst the US will be receiving the game on February 14, the European version has been delayed until March 7th.

Explaining the changes on NeoGAF , series creator David Jaffe posted that:

To be fair, there have not been that many cuts.

For example, in the scene we've released on the net from the intro- where the girl stabs Tooth in the eye- the SCEE version has this but we cut away right before the scissors make contact with Tooth's face. It's CLEAR what she's doing and I think we even keep the sound effects in and such- but the last few frames are gone. The story itself tho totally works and- for some folks even who tend to think this kinda stuff plays better left to your imagination anyway- perhaps it even works better.

Only a few content cuts for the game- for example, I think the guy on the gurney from Meat Wagon is dead so you are exploding a corpse covered with TNT vs. a screaming man trapped to the gurney. Sucks on my end but at the same time, I get it and the game play isn't different and the intent is still there, as is the humor. In some ways, it's actually much more macabre when you think about it. Shooting a dude screaming out the back of an ambulance is pretty stupid and fun and cartoony in a dark, twisted way. Turning a stolen from the morgue CORPSE a missile? A bit more disturbing in some ways...not trying to sell you on it, just thinking out loud.

The game has been passed MA 15+ in Australia without cuts, but it is speculated that cut European Version was submitted. Of course it is also unsure which version was submitted to the UK's BBFC.

 

31st January   

Human Rights Watch...

World Report 2012
Link Here

world report 2012 Many democracies have allowed their ties with repressive allies to temper their support for human rights in the Arab Spring protests, Human Rights Watch said today in its World Report 2012. For reasons of principle and long-term interest, governments should stand firm with the people of the Middle East and North Africa when they demand their basic rights and work to ensure the transition to genuine democracies.

The 676-page report, Human Rights Watch's annual review of human rights practices around the globe, summarizes major rights issues in more than 90 countries, reflecting the extensive investigative work carried out in 2011 by Human Rights Watch staff. On events in the Middle East and North Africa, Human Rights Watch said that firm and consistent international support for peaceful protesters and government critics is the best way to pressure the region's autocrats to end abuses and enhance basic freedoms. A principled insistence on respect for rights is also the best way to help popular movements steer clear of the intolerance, lawlessness, and revenge that can threaten a revolution from within, Human Rights Watch said.

The people driving the Arab Spring deserve strong international support to realize their rights and to build genuine democracies, said Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch. Loyalty to autocratic friends shouldn't stand in the way of siding with democratic reformers. International influence is also needed to ensure that the new governments extend human rights and the rule of law to all, especially women and minorities.

The World Report 2012 documents human rights abuses worldwide, including: violations of the laws of war in Libya and Afghanistan; the plight of political prisoners in Vietnam and Eritrea; the silencing of dissent in China and Cuba; internet crackdowns in Iran and Thailand; killings by security forces in India and Mexico; election-related problems in Russia and the Democratic Republic of Congo; mistreatment of migrants in Western Europe; neglectful maternal health policies in Haiti and South Africa; the suppression of religious freedom in Indonesia and Saudi Arabia; torture in Pakistan and Uzbekistan; discrimination against people with disabilities in Nepal and Peru; and detention without trial in Malaysia and by the United States.

 

16th January   

Update: Expressing his Concerns...

UN Special Rapporteur visits Thailand with concerns about freedom of expression
Link Here  full story: Lese Majeste in Thailand...Criticising the monarchy is a serious crime

UN logoA senior United Nations expert made a private visit to Bangkok to discuss and monitor restricted freedom of expression in the Kingdom, especially the controversial lese-majeste law.

Frank La Rue, the UN Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression, issued a statement last year expressing concern about Thailand's lese-majeste law.

He hopes he will be officially invited back later this year to examine the law and issues of expression. Freedom of expression is a fundamental element of any democratic society, La Rue said, urging Thai authorities to do what they can to promote it.

La Rue met with members of the House of Representatives' Committee on Human Rights and the Senate Committee on Human Rights, as well as with National Human Rights Commissioner Nirand Pitakwatchara.

He told a group of reporters that liberation movements around the world, the Arab Spring for example, were a consequence of lack of freedom of expression.

Thai group expresses concerns about freedom of expression

See  article from  bangkokpost.com

A group of prominent figures with royal lineage have appealed to Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra to amend the lese majeste law. Eight people with royal lineage signed a letter which they sent to the PM asking the government to change the law.

The letter said the number of lese majeste cases had increased substantially in the span of seven years, from zero in 2002 to 165 in 2009. News about these cases has been reported around the world and resulted in increasingly intense attacks on the institution of the monarchy, it said.

The group cited in support of its move His Majesty King Bhumibol's address on Dec 4, 2005 in which he said putting people who criticised the monarchy in jail only caused trouble to him.

 

1st January   

Offsite: Could You Be A Criminal?...

So does drawing a cartoon of Mohammed count as inciting violence?
Link Here  full story: Defamation of Religion...OIC pushes for global blasphemy laws at UN

UN logoThe US government has been quietly wrapping up a Christmas gift of its own: adoption of UN resolution 16/18. An initiative of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (formerly Organization of Islamic Conferences), the confederacy of 56 Islamic states, Resolution 16/18 seeks to limit speech that is viewed as discriminatory or which involves the defamation of religion -- specifically that which can be viewed as incitement to imminent violence.

Whatever that means.

...Read the full article

 

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