Middle East Censorship News

 2011: Oct-Dec

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30th December   

Update: The Dirty Picture...


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Bollywood film banned in Qatar
Link Here  full story: The Dirty Picture...Bollywood movie under censorship duress

dirty pictureThe most talked about Bollywood film of this year, The Dirty Picture , has been banned in Qatar.

Our distributors applied for a censorship certificate in Qatar and they received a notice saying that the movie can't be released there. The film is currently being screened in Dubai, Abu Dhabi and other Middle East countries, but it will not go to Qatar, says Tanuj Garg, CEO Balaji Motion Pictures, adding: The film was supposed to release there either this week or the next, but we were informed that it has been deemed unsuitable for theatrical exhibition.

There were some hitches in releasing the film in Pakistan as well but it was all sorted out when the makers appealed their Censor Board's decision. Even a conservative country like Pakistan released the film after initially rejecting it. Qatar is the only place where the film has been banned, reveals Garg.

 

27th December   

Update: Getting Propaganda Cake and Eating It...


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Whingeing at UK action against Iranian Press TV whilst jamming the BBC
Link Here  full story: Press TV...Political censoship merges with TV censorship

Press TV logoPress TV have issued another propaganda peice suggesting that Ofcom are set to ban the satellite channel from broadcasting with a UK licence.

Press TV writes in a website posting:

London has spared no effort in its two-year-long battle against Press TV. Its media tool, Ofcom, is now about to revoke the channel's broadcast license, hoping this desperate measure will silence criticism.

And in a coincidently timed piece, the Wall Street Journal points out that Iran is regularly jamming BBC programmes targeted at Iran:

As uprisings rolled across the Middle East this year, Iran stepped up its jamming of the BBC, Voice of America and other Western networks with Persian-language news channels. The move is intended to prevent Iranian audiences from seeing foreign broadcasts the Iranian government finds objectionable, five networks protested in a joint statement this month.

Some 45% to 60% of Iranians watch satellite TV, according to estimates from the state media company and an Iranian research center, exceeding the number believed to use the Internet. Iran so far seems to be winning a struggle to filter out unwanted TV content and broadcast its own propaganda: The country jams channels like the BBC on Western satellites even as Iran's state media company broadcasts pro-government news on some of the same satellites, and at times has aired forced confessions of political detainees.

Iran is having it both ways, said a U.S. State Department official. While they benefit from the international community's respect for 'freedom of expression' and 'freedom of the airwaves,' they deny that same right to their own citizens, aggressively jamming Persian-language broadcasts from other countries.

 

23rd December   

Toppling PC Towers...

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The Lacoste art prize cancelled over political sensitivities
Link Here

nation estate larissa sansourThe Swiss Lacoste art prize worth 25,000 euros has been cancelled amid controversy that the organisers censored one of the nominees.

Jerusalem-born artist Larissa Sansour claims she was taken off the shortlist for being too pro-Palestinian .

The Elysee Museum in Lausanne, Switzerland said it was the prize's sponsors, clothing company Lacoste, who decided to exclude Sansour.

Lacoste denied the accusation and withdrew their sponsorship.

Sansour was among eight finalists shortlisted for the photography prize for her Nation Estate project. Her trio of images was inspired by Palestine's attempt to gain UN recognition and depicts a skyscraper housing the entire Palestinian population.

The news of her removal earlier this week came as a complete surprise, she said. Sansour told The Independent she had been told by senior staff at the museum that the reason for her removal was allegedly because her work was considered by Lacoste to be too pro-Palestinian .

Organisers released a statement saying her work had been deemed inappropriate for the prize, which had a Joie de Vivre (joy of life) theme.

 

23rd December   

Updated: Denied by Turkey...

France debates bill to criminalise the denial of the Armenian Massacre
Link Here  full story: Armenia Massacre Denial in France...France debates new law much to Turkey's annoyance

Armenian Massacres 1894 1896 Media Testimony Turkish President Abdullah Gul has called on France to halt plans for a law criminalising the denial of the mass killing of Armenians by Ottoman Turks during World War I as genocide.

The French lower house of parliament is due to consider a bill that proposes a one-year prison term and a heavy fine.

Armenians say up to 1.5 million people died during mass deportations. Turkey puts the figure at closer to 300,000.

In a statement, President Gul said the proposed legislation, set to go before the National Assembly on Thursday, denied Turkey the freedom to reject unfair and groundless accusations . He also suggested that France was jeopardising centuries of friendship because of small political calculations .

Last week, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan wrote to French President Nicolas Sarkozy warning him that bill was hostile and directly targeted Turkey and Turks living in France. Such steps will have grave consequences for future relations between Turkey and France in political, economic, cultural and all areas, and the responsibility will rest with those behind this initiative, the Anatolia news agency quoted him as saying.

A delegation of Turkish MPs and businessmen has travelled to Paris to lobby against the bill and was due to meet Sarkozy's diplomatic adviser, Jean-David Levitte, and French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe.

Update: Passed

23rd December 2011. See  article from  bbc.co.uk

Turkey flagThe Turkish prime minister has announced measures against France after MPs passed a bill criminalising denial of the 1915-16 Armenian genocide .

Ankara is recalling its ambassador and freezing political visits as well as joint military projects, including exercises, Recep Tayyip Erdogan said.

The bill was passed by the French National Assembly on Thursday and is due to go before the Senate next year.

French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe has publicly opposed it.

Under the bill, those publicly denying genocide would face a year in jail and a fine of 45,000 euros.

 

23rd December   

Update: Undiplomatic Blocking...

Iran blocks UK embassy website
Link Here  full story: Iranian Internet Censorship...Extensive internet blocking

uk in iran logoIran has blocked the website of the British embassy in Tehran following a diplomatic crisis last month that led to the closure of the UK mission.

The Foreign Office said that the government's website in Iran, which had continued working despite the closure of the embassy, had been deliberately filtered by the Iranian authorities.

People inside Iran who try to visit ukiniran.fco.gov.uk, are re-directed to a web page that reads: Access to the webiste is denied according to [Iran's] computer crimes regulations.

The foreign secretary, William Hague, said: Britain's website in Iran has now been added to the list of thousands of other internet sites deliberately censored by the Iranian authorities. Hague said Iran's move was counter-productive and ill-judged :

It will also make it harder for Iranian nationals to access information about visiting the UK. And it is further proof to the rest of the world the Iranian government's dire record on freedom of speech and human rights in general. This action will not deter Britain from continuing to engage with the Iranian people, including through the internet.

 

20th December   

Exorcising Evil Spirits from GEM TV...

Ofcom censures an Iranian language channel for broadcasting The Exorcist during the day
Link Here

Exorcist Blu ray Region Free The Exorcist
Gem TV, 20 September 2011, 18:30 (UK) and 21 September 2011, 11:30 (UK)

A complainant drew Ofcom's attention to the morning and early evening scheduling of The Exorcist , the notorious 1970s horror film.

Gem TV is a Farsi (Iranian) language channel broadcasting via the Hotbird 6 satellite. The channel can be received in Europe and the Middle East. The licence for this channel is held by General Entertainment & Music Ltd (GEM)

The British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) rates the The Exorcist at „18 for theatrical and video release.

Ofcom considered the scheduling of the film to raise an issue warranting investigation under Rule 1.23 of the Code, which states:

BBFC 18-rated films or their equivalent must not be broadcast before 2100 on any service (except for pay per view services), and even then they may be unsuitable for broadcast at that time.

GEM said that it accepted that it had made a mistake in scheduling. However, the Licensee told us, because the channel broadcasts in Farsi for Iranian viewers its programme times and schedules are based on Iranian time. The Licensee stated that the film's scheduling would therefore have been compliant with the Code when judged against Iranian local time. The Licensee apologised and stressed that it strives to comply with Ofcom's rules

Ofcom Decision: Breach of Rule 1.23

Given The Exorcist's themes of self-mutilation, possession and violence, Ofcom considered this film to be clearly unsuitable for children.

Ofcom noted the Licensee's comments in respect of its target audience being in Iran, but rejected this as a defence. First, the transmission of The Exorcist at 11:30 UK time was inappropriately scheduled even when assessed against local Iranian time. The same time slot would have been 15:00 in local Iranian time, still well before the 21:00 watershed.

Second, and more importantly, where a service can be received in more than one time zone, scheduling considerations made under the Code are judged against the earliest time at which the service can be received (i.e. the most westerly time zone). For GEM TV this is UK time. In that respect we would point out that the complaint was made by a viewer in the UK.

For The Exorcist to have been scheduled in the morning and early evening therefore represented two clear and serious breaches of the Code.

We have reminded GEM Ltd of its responsibilities under its Ofcom licence. Any recurrence of this issue is likely to result in the consideration of the imposition of statutory sanctions.

Breaches of Rule 1.23

 

15th December   

Update: Regressing...

Turkey quick to include the religious censorship of evolution in its new web blocking programme
Link Here  full story: Internet Censorship in Turkey...Website blocking insults the Turkish people
Evolution Human Story Alice Roberts Evolution, apparently, ranks alongside pornography and terrorism as topics that the Turkish government's controversial new Internet filtering scheme keeps out of the hands of children.

Internet users in Turkey were surprised yesterday to find that several educational Web sites about evolution were inaccessible. After Hurriyet Daily News reported the censorship, the government reversed the block. But science advocates and Internet freedom activists say it's a worrying sign of the government's attitude toward evolution.

Turkey's filtering program, which was launched at the end of November, has drawn broad criticism because it filters sites about political opposition to the government and blocks sites that go against conveniently undefined Turkish values .

Internet users have the option to select either a family, or child, or standard level of censorship. The Turkish Information Technologies and Communication Authority sets the content of each of these options.

Aykut Kence, a biologist at Middle East Technical University in Ankara, told ScienceInsider in an e-mail that antievolution Web sites developed by Harun Yahya remained accessible without any restriction. Yahya is the pen name of Adnan Oktar, a religious activist who writes creationist textbooks for children and sends them to schools across Europe.

 

14th December   

Beirut Spring...

Maybe a fight back against the authorities who banned the Lebanese film Beirut Hotel
Link Here
beirut hotelWhen reports emerged last week that Danielle Arbid's noir film Beirut Hotel had been banned by Lebanese film censors from General Security, some were skeptical as to why. While the film features sexual content, an anonymous General Security source said the film was banned because it mentions the 2005 assassination of ex-Prime Minister Rafic Hariri.

Mustapha Hamoui, author of the blog Beirut Spring , wrote: It seems to me that the film was banned from Lebanese movie theaters...because it features a double-whammy of a taboo: Explicit sex between a Lebanese woman and a foreign man.

According to a blog entry on the Tajaddod Youth website , which allegedly summarized a study on how censorship in Lebanon is conducted, General Security almost always complies with the wishes of religious institutions and political figures with regard to film censorship. The study, conducted by human rights lawyer Nizar Saghieh, will be released on December 15 alongside a draft bill to reform cinema censorship, according to one Tajaddod Youth member who wished to remain anonymous.

The very fact that film censorship is still rampant has caused stern criticism from free speech advocates, including Beirut Hotel director Arbid who is threatening to take legal action against General Security.

Arbid told NOW Lebanon that she is working with Human Rights lawyer Saghieh, who is offering legal representation for free, to take legal action against General Security for what she describes as an issue of freedom.

It seems Arbid is not the only one who is disenchanted with the system in place. Lea Baroudi, who is part of a group of activists behind the Facebook page Stop Cultural Terrorism in Lebanon, said that she and her peers are frustrated with two main issues relating to the practice of censorship in place. The first is the lack of transparency surrounding the process as it involves numerous state institutions with the capacity to censor and the criteria for censorship are not clearly defined. Secondly, censors are patronizing the Lebanese people. Let them make their own decisions [whether or not they want watch a specific film], she added.

Update: Government Reasons

24th December 2011. See  article from  dailystar.com.lb

The Directorate General of General Security wishes to clarify the following:

On Sept. 1, 2010, Sabine Sidawi applied for permission to film a movie, entitled Hotel Room , and she submitted along with the request a copy of the screenplay, on the basis of which she had applied for a permit for filming.

The screenplay's content was reviewed by the relevant department, and Sidawi was asked to make some alterations as the film is centered on a real crime, the assassination of late former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri and is based on a fictional screenplay that involves the intelligence agency of a friendly Western state and a Lebanese security apparatus, in such as way as to suggest that the latter is indifferent to an opportunity to find the the truth about the Hariri assassination; in fact, the film shows that the Lebanese security apparatus liquidated the person who could provide such information.

It was agreed with Sabine Sidawi to delete the name of the crime, especially as the case is still being investigated by the Special Tribunal for Lebanon, and thus one cannot suggest incorrect hypotheses that affect foreign states or official institutions, regarding a real crime about which no verdicts have yet been issued.

Based on this, Sidawi submitted an altered text, as was agreed, and she received permission to film the movie on Sept., 25, 2010. She also changed the name of the film to Beirut Hotel instead of Hotel Room.

On Oct., 25, 2011, Italia Film Company applied for permission to show the film in question and it was discovered that it [the film] was based on the original screenplay without any alterations.

 

10th December   

Update: Angry Mob...

Freedom loving blogger gets mobbed at a Tahrir Square protest
Link Here  full story: Naked Blogger...Brave Egyptian blogger shows freedom loving spirit
aliaa magda elmahdy naked blogger mobbed video A young woman in Egypt whose free soul might better have been born in Berkley rather than Cairo, was crucified in Tahrir Square this week by men who identified her as the nude activist blogger who has taken a stand against rampant sexism in this mostly Muslim country.

Easily spotted and vulnerable, Aliaa Elmahdy, was targeted, bound, and drug through the crowd of demonstrators in Egypt. However she is taken to what appears to be a medical team and it seems clear from the video that those personnel, male and female, began protecting her as soon as she was delivered to them, I hope that is the case.

Thousands of Egyptians erupted in anger over the nude photos of Aliaa that have been stirring controversy in this ancient place for more than a month.

 

9th December   

Update: Dangerous Speculation...

Egyptian authorities ban newspaper speculating about the future of the country's military leader
Link Here  full story: Press Freedom in Egypt...Press under duress in Egypt
egypt independentEgypt's newest newspaper has become the victim of state censorship after staff were ordered to shelve an entire print run of 20,000 copies over an article that suggested the leader of the governing Military Council could go to prison.

Employees at the Egypt Independent, an English-language weekly, were told the latest edition could not be distributed because of the final two paragraphs of an opinion piece about Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi, the de facto president.

It is another blow for those who have raised concerns about the direction of Egypt's revolution, with critics alleging that the country's top brass appear intent on undermining the popular uprising to preserve their decades-old networks of power.

The offending article, headlined, Is Tantawi reading the public pulse correctly? , had suggested that many in the military believed their reputation was being abused. The military institution could remove him to save itself, argued the opinion piece, by American historian Dr Robert Springborg. It concluded that a group of discontented officers might decide that a coup within the coup was the best way to deal with Tantawi, and mentioned a possible contender for the Field Marshal's post.

 

3rd December   

Update: First Impressions...

Banning websites by keywords makes for an arbitrary new system of website blocking for families in Turkey
Link Here  full story: Internet Censorship in Turkey...Website blocking insults the Turkish people
Turkey flagAn Internet content filtering system that Turkey's Information Technologies and Communications Authority (BTK) introduced on 22 November is proving controversial.

Although use of the filtering system is optional, it is misleading. It is supposed to protect Internet users, especially minors from objectionable content by censoring certain keywords. But tests of the new system have established that access to websites is being blocked arbitrarily.

The BTK wants us to believe that, by giving Internet users a choice, it is not practicing censorship, Reporters Without Borders said:

Claiming that use of this filtering system makes an Internet connection secure is disgraceful. Some websites may be inaccessible but that does not make the Internet connection any safer.

The proposed solution is not fit for purpose and threatens online free expression, as the Court of Justice of the European Union ruled a week ago, above all because of the risk of overblocking. If only porn is supposed to be blocked, why are terms related to Kurdish separatist movements, for example, on the list of censored keywords?

We condemn a policy of backdoor censorship. The BTK must abandon this system, which is reinforcing Internet censorship in Turkey.

Anyone can sign up for the filtering system, which comes in a family version and a child version. So far only 22,000 of the country's 11.5 million Internet users have signed up.

The filtering criteria are defined by a commission consisting of 11 members. As most of them are government officials, the commission's independence and impartiality are questionable. It has so far drawn up a list of 130 harmful keywords in Turkish, English and German. The list includes pornography, sex, and Verbot (the German word for ban ). It also includes such words as mother-in-law, incest and even gay.

This eclectic and often discriminatory list will extend the censorship to ordinary news websites and prevention campaign sites, while encouraging homophobia. Keywords related to separatist political groups such as the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) are also filtered, which clearly shows that the BTK is not just targeting online porn.

Yaman Akdeniz, deputy head of the law faculty at Istanbul's Bilgi University and founder of Cyber-Rights, said that the child version blocks access to Facebook and the online video-sharing website YouTube. Facebook cannot be accessed with the family version either, unless the user specifically requests access. Akdeniz said blocking a five-year-old child's access to YouTube is understandable, but denying access for adolescents over 14 is exaggerated.

 

1st December   

Update: Unbelievable...

Ofcom's unenviable job of being a political censor of a foreign propaganda channel whilst not being able to admit to diplomatic input
Link Here  full story: Press TV...Political censoship merges with TV censorship

Ofcom logoOfcom has reversed its unpublished decision to revoke the broadcasting licence of Press TV, the Iranian state broadcaster's English-language outlet, as tensions rise between Britain and the Islamic republic.

Ofcom had apparently told Press TV last month that it was minded to ban it from broadcasting in the UK after the channel aired an interview with Maziar Bahari, an imprisoned Newsweek journalist, taking his words seriously when in fact the interview had been conducted under duress.

However, after hearing final submissions from the broadcaster, and amidst a crisis in bilateral relations that has seen Britain withdraw members of its diplomatic mission from its Tehran embassy after the building was stormed by protesters, Ofcom is understood to have downgraded the sanction to a fine of £ 100,000. Details of the sanction are expected to be published this week.

According to the WikiLeaks cables, the Foreign Office told a US diplomat in 2010 that the UK government was exploring ways to limit the operations of ... Press TV. At the time, the department warned the US that UK law sets a very high standard for denying licences to broadcasters. Licences can only be denied in cases where national security is threatened, or if granting a licence would be contrary to Britain's obligations under international law. Currently neither of these standards can be met with respect to Press TV, but if further sanctions are imposed on Iran in the coming months a case may be able to be made on the second criterion .

A Foreign Office spokesman said that there had been no government intervention in the process.

 

1st December   

Update: Cartoon Wind Up...

Supposedly blasphemous cartoon becomes the focus of a diplomatic fracas at Euro-Turkey talks
Link Here  full story: Blasphemy in Turkey...Blasphemy repressing Turkish people

turkish dangerous cartoonA gathering of Turkish and European parliamentarians in Brussels turned eventful when a far-right Dutch deputy lambasted Islam and Turkey and then attempted to present a supposedly blasphemous cartoon as a 'gift' to a Turkish minister.

Barry Madlener, a Dutch politician from the Party for Freedom (PVV), first caused tensions when he said at a meeting of the European Union-Turkey Joint Parliamentary Committee that Turkey did not belong to Europe because it has a backward Islamic ideology that does not fit with European values. Islam and freedoms cannot coexist, Madlener said before accusing Turkey of restricting freedom of the press and Internet and criticizing increasing violence against women and homosexuals.

He said even caricaturists were being put on trial and walked towards Turkish State Minister Egemen Bağış, one of the panelists at the meeting, saying he wanted to present him an illustration by a Turkish cartoonist as a 'gift'.

The cartoon, published in Turkish humor magazine Penguen , landed cartoonist Bahadır Baruter in court, with a state prosecutor charging him in September with insulting religious values and demanding a one-year jail sentence. The cartoon proved controversial as the phrases there is no Allah and religion is a lie were hidden in the background.

When Madlener attempted to present a framed copy of the cartoon to Bağış, Turkish lawmaker Akif Demirkıran, who was chairing the meeting, received the cartoon as Bağış was heard shouting, Don't take it! Bağış, who is also Turkey's chief negotiator for EU talks, then told Madlener: I have enough cartoons at home. Put it in your appropriate place. The EU Commissioner for Enlargement Stefan Füle attempted to calm down Bağış, who was visibly rattled.

Members of the European Union-Turkey Joint Parliamentary Committee protested Madlener by clapping

 

1st December   

Update: Propaganda Battle...

Iran bans computer game Battlefield 3 that depicts a military assault on Tehran
Link Here  full story: Killergames...German politicians target video games

Battlefield 3 Limited PC DVD Iran has banned the computer game Battlefield 3 because it depicts a U.S. military assault against the city of Tehran using tanks and aircraft.

All computer stores are prohibited from selling this illegal game, said an unnamed deputy with the security and intelligence division of Iran's police in a statement carried by the Asr-e Ertebat weekly.

An unnamed shop owner told the Associated Press. that Iranian police have raided (shops) and arrested owners for selling the game secretly even before the ban became public.

The Fars news agency reports on an online petition with 5000 signatures which claims a US conspiracy. The petition reads

We understand that the story of a videogame is hypothetical ... (but) we believe the game is purposely released at a time when the US is pushing the international community into fearing Iran.

 

26th November   

Updated: Brief Respite Until the Next Lot...

Libya celebrates the unbanning of books after the demise of Gadhafi
Link Here

Sexuality Arab World Samir Khalaf Libya marked the end of the Gadhafi-era blacklist with a ceremonial unbanning of books in the former regime's public library.

Many of Libya's emerging political hopefuls joined militia leaders and returning expat exiles at the Italianate Royal Palace for a sunset event..

With a fanfare of Libyan bagpipers in full ceremonial flourish, the VIP crowd made its way to the top for of the palace, heaped with table upon table of books deemed unreadable during Moammar Gadhafi's 42-year rule.

There, Arabic titles including The Secret Life of Saddam Hussein and The CIA Files of Arab Rulers sat alongside censored troves of Islamic literature, theology and philosophy. Books about Israel, Hezbollah, books by Salmon Rushdie. One slim volume was titled Sex In The Arab World.

Among the attendees was journalist and human rights activist Hassan al-Amin, one of the Gadhafi regime's sharpest critics during his years of exile in London, who shared a bittersweet swirl of emotions as the books were revealed.

This is a major moment for us because this is where we reclaim our intellectual freedom. We say goodbye to an era where free thinking was forbidden, where ideas were dangerous, Amin told the Star.

 

25th November   

Update: Press Under Attack...

Iran targets opposition newspapers for closure
Link Here  full story: Press Freedom in Iran...As if there were any

etemaad logoThe authorities in Iran have closed down the country's biggest-circulation reformist newspaper, Etemaad , accusing it of supposedly breaching media laws.

Observers say that the paper had just published a story on the reaction to the emergence of a film showing the police attack on Tehran university last June.

Authorities also suspended publication of a weekly reformist paper whose managing director is the son of one of Iran's opposition leaders, Mehdi Karroubi. Last week Mehdi Karroubi was beaten up by Iranian security forces at a rally.

Hossein Karroubi told the BBC that the paper, Iran Dokht , was targeted due to his father's political activities. He said that a few days ago, an Iranian government official had spoken to his mother, the proprietor of Iran Dokht. The official had criticised the political stance of the opposition leader.

A third publication, Sina, a weekly provincial newspaper, was also banned, accused of not operating in line with the constitution.

 

22nd November   

Update: Dark Days...

Turkish website blocking due to come into force today
Link Here  full story: Internet Censorship in Turkey...Website blocking insults the Turkish people
Turkey flagA new internet censorship regime was originally planned to be introduced three months ago, but was postponed until November 22 for technical reasons, according to the government.

In the meantime, tens of thousands of Turks have held protests across the country under the motto Hands off my Internet! Media outlets and Internet forums have also sharply criticized the plan.

Turkish officials have claimed that the website blocking is voluntary, but organisations that have researched into the implementation say that this is not the case. The government also claims that the censorship would protect children and youth from objectionable content on the Internet. In addition, separatist propaganda by groups such as the PKK Kurdish rebel organization is also to be banned.

An 11-member government commission came up with the list of more than 130 search terms deemed harmful. Internet freedom advocates criticized the group's composition, as it was composed exclusively of officials from the ministries of information and family, and did not include any independent experts. Among the banned search words are the English terms porno, sex, adult, fetish, escort, mature and gay, as well as the Turkish words for naked, hot, sister-in-law, mother-in-law, stepmother and incest. Curiously enough, the German word Verbot (ban) is also forbidden.

According to findings from the press freedom organization Reporters Without Borders, access to more than 7,000 Web portals could be either completely blocked or heavily limited. Tthis could also include several online services provided by Google, Myspace and the video service Vimeo.

The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe called the blocking another dimension of censorship, and said it would limit the individual rights to freedom of information.

The Alternative Information Technologies Association has filed a petition with Turkey's highest administrative court to cancel the blocking legislation, saying the measure is not voluntary, as claimed.

Joe McNamee, of European Digital Rights, an advocacy group based in Brussels also interprets the blocking as being mandatory, he says calling Web blocking voluntary is far easier politically.

Yaman Akdeniz, a Turkish human rights expert and professor at Bilgi University in Istanbul, said the blocking was a cornerstone for further censorship of the Internet.

Deutsche Welle report that there is doubt that the blocking will actually come into effect as on November 22.

 

22nd November   

Advocating a Freedom Revolution...

Freedom loving blogger 'shocks' Egypt with a nude self portrait
Link Here  full story: Naked Blogger...Brave Egyptian blogger shows freedom loving spirit
aliaa magda elmahdy Aliaa Maghda El-Mahdy, a 20-year-old dissident from Cairo, describes herself as a secular liberal feminist vegetarian individualist Egyptian. A college student, an atheist, and a blogger. Her latest act of political rebellion has set off a firestorm in Egypt and in the Twitterverse of Arab dissidents.

In one of the nude self-portraits she posted this week on her blog, A Rebels Diary , which has received more than a million page views, she faces the camera wearing just a red ribbon in her hair, thigh-high tights, and red ballet flats.

I took my nude photo myself in my parents' home, she writes. The same photo appears on her blog a second time, now with a yellow rectangle covering her crotch. The yellow rectangles on my eyes, mouth and sex organ resemble the censoring of our knowledge, expression and sexuality, she writes.

Mahdy's rebellious act 'shocked' a whole range of people in Egypt, from devout Muslims to members of the youth movement. According to the website cyberdissidents.org, she has received thousands of threatening comments since the publication of the nude photos, the purpose of which was challenging her community to restrict her freedom.

Mahdy doesn't care. I have the right to live freely in any place, she writes on her blog. She is using all the weapons in her arsenal to protest a society of violence, racism, sexism, sexual harassment and hypocrisy. A staunch critic of Islamic extremism and the puritanical censorship that accompanies it, she is advocating a freedom revolution in Egypt, just as the pro-freedom forces of the Arab Spring are being overwhelmed by staunch Islamists.

Support from Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain

See  article from  ex-muslim.org.uk

no sex no voice no views

  People of Egypt: No Sex, No Voice, No Views

Student, atheist and blogger, Aliaa Magda Elmahdy, 20, posted naked pictures of herself on her blog to show her screams against a society of violence, racism, sexism, sexual harassment and hypocrisy . Showing her body particularly at a time when Islamists in Egypt are trying to secure power is the ultimate act of rebellion. Don't forget Islamists despise nothing more than a woman's body. In case you didn't know, women are the source of corruption and chaos and must be covered up at all times and not seen and not heard.

The Islamists in Egypt, for example, have replaced the photos of their female candidates with flowers and covered up a statue of mermaids in Alexandria. They have refused to appear face-to-face with female TV hosts, unless the presenter put on a headscarf or a barrier was placed between the two!

Elmahdy's blogger boyfriend Kareem Amer (who by the way spent four years in jail for calling Mubarak a symbol of tyranny) posted on Facebook: I think we should not be afraid of those in power or Islamists, as much as we should be worried of politicians claiming to be liberal. They are ready to sacrifice us to avoid tarnishing their image.

Now do you really need any more reasons for defending Aliaa Magda Elmahdy unconditionally?

Do it now. Tweet with hashtag #NudePhotoRevolutionary, support her Facebook page, and A Rebels Diary . If you haven't done so, you should sign the Manifesto for a Free and Secular Middle East and North Africa . Secularism, the separation of religion from the state, is a precondition for minimum freedoms and rights for all.

Support from Israeli women

See article from theblaze.com

homage to aliaa Forty Israeli women posed discreetly nude in support of a young female Egyptian blogger who drew criticism and threats for posting a naked photo of herself to protest against the limits of free speech in her country. The organizer of the Israeli event says she wanted to show support for women like Egyptian activist Aliaa Elmahdy, and show the world a good reason to see the unique beauty of Israeli women. Or Tepler explained to YNet News:

Regardless of whether they are Jewish, Arab, straight or Lesbian -- because here, as of now, it doesn't matter. ... Let us show the doubters that our international discourse doesn't depend on governments,

Tepler organized the event on Facebook. The participants were photographed holding a sign saying Love without Limits, and Homage to Aliaa Elmahdi. Sisters in Israel.

 

20th November   

Update: Undermining Scared values...

TV station boss on trial for blasphemy for broadcasting the animated movie, Persepolis
Link Here  full story: Persepolis Banned...Iran tries for worldwide ban of movie Persepolis
Persepolis DVD Catherine Deneuve The head of Nessuna TV has appeared in court in Tunis on charges of undermining sacred values, undermining decent standards and causing trouble to public order.

The case, which has been brought against Nabil Karoui and two of his employees by 140 lawyers, follows the broadcast by his private TV station of the film Persepolis on 7 October.

The animated film, based on Marjane Strapi's novel about the 1979 revolution in Iran, supposedly 'offended' many Muslims because in one scene it depicts their god as an old man with a beard. Literal images of their god are forbidden by Islam.

Karoui apologised for the scene, but anger at its transmission erupted into street demonstrations in the Tunisian capital last month, culminating in Karoui's home being firebombed.

He told AFP that he will plead not guilty to the charges. The hearing was adjourned and will resume in Tunis on 23 January 2012.

 

18th November   

Navel Fluff...

Egypt launches 3 satellite TV channels showcasing belly dancing
Link Here

Luscious Belly Workout Beginners REGIONS A group of unidentified businessmen has launched three international Arabic-language television channels as part of a project to promote Egyptian belly dancing in the region and abroad.

From Europe to Asia and North America, each day lovers of oriental dance watch el-Farah (Arabic for Joy), el-Teet and Darabuka (the drum) channels on NileSat 1 to enjoy this ancient Egyptian art. These three channels show professional and amateur dancers from around the world as well shoddy Egyptian singers, who take part in elaborate non-stop shows.

Of course the report lined up the inevitable whinges from nobody passers-by. Zainab Naguib, described as a 'veiled government employee' said that she totally rejected the idea of launching these three channels, which she dismissed as immoral and vulgar.

It is absolutely wrong and unnecessary to have these channels because they are offensive to our religion, honour and customs.

Shed added that the three channels have nothing to do with personal freedom:

If freedom harms others, it is no longer a freedom. These dancers are sinners because they wear outfits that do not cover the breasts, the belly button and what is below that. They also make gestures that awaken the sexual instincts of viewers. Freedoms and public rights are not absolute, they are limited by the respect of the family which is the base of the Egyptian conservative society that rejects any form of seduction.

Such entertainment forms are branded un-Islamic and are associated with prostitution, she asserted.

 

16th November   

Update: When is a Dictator Not a Dictator?...

By dictate of the Turkish establishment
Link Here  full story: Insulting Turkishness...Insulting Turkishness law used to repress

Photographic Mustafa President Mary Evans Nagehan Alci is a young Turkish journalist who writes a column for the mainstream daily Aksam and appears regularly prominent on news channels, including CNN Turk. She is, by all definitions, a secular liberal. Yet Mrs. Alci said something on TV last week that enraged millions of secular Turks. During a discussion on Turkish political history, she referred to Ataturk, Turkey's founder  father, as a ' dictator'.

Then it took less than a day for a campaign to culminate against her in the media. The National Party, a die-hard defender of the Ataturk cult, called on the whole Turkish nation to protest this insult. Kemalist columnists in various papers wrote angry pieces that bashed Alci and passionately argued why Ataturk, the Supreme Leader, was never a dictator.

Moreover, a Turkish prosecutor initiated an investigation into Alci's comment for possible violation of the Law to Protect Ataturk. It is very probable, in other words, that Alci might be tried for insulting Ataturk, which is a serious crime in Turkey that can put you in jail for six years.

The funny thing, of course, is that the term dictator is not an insult but a political definition, and Ataturk really fits into that quite nicely. From 1925, when he initiated the single party regime, to his death in 1938, he ruled Turkey with the perfect dictatorial style: he banned all opposition parties, closed down even civil society organizations (from Sufi orders to freemasons), and did not allow a single critical voice in the media. You just need Politics 101 to call this regime a dictatorship.

Of course, Ataturk cannot be considered in the same camp with the more notorious dictators of his age, such as Hitler or Stalin, who were ruthless mass-murderers. When compared to such figures, Ataturk was a very mild autocrat. Hence historian Ahmet Kuyas,, who has genuine sympathy for Ataturk and his heritage, argues that he must be called a good dictator. Yet a dictator, nonetheless.

 

12th November   

Updated: Name Banners...

Lebanese cinema with Spielberg's credits covered up spark international interest
Link Here

Adventures Tintin Secret Unicorn DVD A blog image at BlogBaladi.com has intrigued the world as it shows a Beirut cinema with Steven Spielberg's name covered over on promotional posters for the new TinTin film.

Last year, a U.S. embassy memo released by WikiLeaks revealed that Spielberg had been blacklisted by the Arab League's Central Boycott Office in 2006 after making a $1 million donation to Israel during the conflict with Lebanon. Representatives from 14 Arab states voted to ban all films related to Spielberg.

Films have continued to be shown in Lebanon and other Arab League countries, however, but the blacking out of Spielberg's name suggest that the issue hasn't totally been forgotten.

Internet material promoting the film in Lebanon has not been similarly censored and carries Steven Spielberg's credits as per normal.

Update: Spielberg Unbanned

12th November 2011. See  article from  nowlebanon.com

Bassam Eid, coordinator for Empire Theatres in Lebanon, said that General Security had nothing to do with the incident. Instead, he contends that the act of censorship was the work of a stupid employee who thought that covering Spielberg's name was procedure and was acting alone. When asked whether NOW Lebanon could speak with the offending employee, Eid refused, saying, I don't want to make it a big issue. I prefer no.

Eid stressed, though, that Cinema City was the only theater affected by the temporary censorship and argued that had it been government policy, the film would not have made it to cinemas in the first place. As of Sunday evening, the strips of tape were removed, and Spielberg's name was visible on film posters.

Regardless, others are not convinced this was an innocent mistake.

 

8th November   

Update: Legal Blocks...

The state of play of Turkey's opt in/out website filtering
Link Here  full story: Internet Censorship in Turkey...Website blocking insults the Turkish people

Turkey flagTurkey's controversial opt in/out website blocking system was developed within the Draft Bill on Principles and Procedures for the Safe Use of the Internet as published by the Council of Information Technologies and Telecommunication (BTK) on 22 February 2011.

Assistant Prof Kerem Altiparmak, member of staff at the Ankara University Faculty of Political Sciences, explained in a statement:

Bianet filed a case with the Council of State requesting to halt the execution of the Draft on Principles and Procedures for the Safe Use of the Internet that was going to be enforced on 22 August.

Very probably, the BTK contacted the Council of State as a result of the trial. Then, the BTK made a few amendments in the draft and postponed the application to 22 November.

The Council of State did not dismiss bianet's request to stall the application because it was considered unjust but because the regulations the request was based on have been changed. In administrative procedures, a trial is being opened once. As the result of the case filed by bianet and the reactions of the public, the administration understood that the regulations were contrary to the law and amended them.

The lawyer pointed to the changes in the regulation: The obligation to choose one of the four [filter] profiles has been removed. Furthermore, it was decided that a delegation of ten experts defines the contents of the internet packages. In the previous regulation the BTK could act the way they wanted.

Altinparmak announced to file another case against the amended regulation that is going to be enforced on 22 November. He also said that they were going to claim the cost of the previous trial from the administration.

If this trial should be rejected as well, they will apply to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), the lawyer indicated.

To summarise:

  • The original August 22nd 2011 implementation did not go ahead after legal challenge by ISP Bianet
  • The government watered down the website blocking proposals a bit and delayed the implementation until 22nd November 2011
  • Bianet are still not happy and will launch another legal case ahead of the 22nd November implementation date

 

5th November   

Registered as Censorship...

Lebanon moves to censor news websites and blogs
Link Here

Lebanon flagA recent decision by Lebanon's National Audiovisual Media Council (NAMC) is catching a lot of flak. The council called for all news websites to register with it starting November 1, prompting fears the move is both illegal and a move to censorship.

In an interview with NOW Lebanon, Abdel-Hadi Mahfouz, head of the 10-member NAMC, claimed the council merely wants to get an idea of the electronic media landscape in the country prior to passing a new law that would extend media control to include online publications.

Mahfouz told NOW Lebanon that both news websites and blogs should register, after which details would be hammered out on how the two should be regulated in the future. He added that failure to register could result in the site being banned.

Ayman Mhanna, executive director of the press-freedom-promoting SKEyes Center, said he feared censorship was the main goal of the initiative and lamented what he called the council's past dismal record of speaking up when journalists were beaten or intimidated as well as the council's lack of explanation for its recent decision. Mhanna said:

Also, there are deep flaws in the decision . There's absolutely no clarity in terms of what they mean by 'news websites.' I really think that they themselves don't know the difference between official news websites, blogs, citizen journalism platforms [and the like].

Change and Reform bloc MP Ghassan Moukheiber, who authored a new media law that would address electronic media and is currently under review in parliament, also questioned the decision, highlighting what he called its complete illegality.

Moukheiber and Mhanna said that the current 1994 law does not mention electronic media at all, and therefore it, and the council it created, has no legal authority to regulate websites.

Moukheiber said: This decision is not only [legally incorrect] but dangerous. Although it looks benign, legally [registration would be] a de facto recognition that electronic media are subject to the [1994] law.

 

1st November   

Pinching the Winner...

Indefinite bans for 2 Iranian footballers after 'immoral' goal celebrations
Link Here

iran goal celebration Iran's football federation has imposed indefinite bans on two players for their immoral acts during goal celebrations.

The incidents, condemned by officials and commentators alike, took place during a league match between Persepolis Tehran and Damash Gilan, broadcast live on national television.

Footage on YouTube shows Persepolis defender Mohammad Nosrati pinching his teammate Sheys Rezaei's bottom as they celebrated a goal.

Rezaei, another YouTube video shows, squeezed an unidentified teammate during another goal celebration later in the game.

 

30th October   

Update: The Soft War...

Iran criminalises the use of internet proxies or VPNs
Link Here  full story: Iranian Internet Censorship...Extensive internet blocking
tor vpn The use of VPNs (Virtual Private Networks) and proxies is a crime, Iran's Minister of Communications and Technology has announced.

ISNA quoted the minister saying: Now VPNs have been cut off in the country because their use is a legal violation.

A VPN is an encrypted communication through which internet users can get access to websites blocked by Iran without Iranian authorities being able to monitor communication content such as web browsing or email.

Iranian internet users have been using VPNs and proxies to circumvent extensive internet blocking.

Iranian authorities claim that their enemies are trying to destabilize the country through cultural and social influences, which they refer to as the soft war.

 

29th October   

Updated: Sold Out by My Tehran...

Iran sentences actress to a year in jail and a flogging for work on banned film
Link Here
Tehran Sale NON USA FORMAT Reg 4 An Iranian actress has been sentenced to a year in jail and 90 lashes for her role in a film about the country's artistic repression.

Marzieh Vafamehr was arrested appearing in My Tehran for Sale , which came under harsh criticism in conservative circles.

The film, produced in collaboration with Australia, tells the story of a young actress in Tehran whose theatre work is banned by the authorities. She is then forced to lead a secret life in order to express herself artistically.

The Fars news agency said the movie had been banned in Iran and was being distributed in the country illegally. The makers had also not been given permission to film in Tehran

Marzieh Vafamehr's lawyer has appealed the sentence.

Update: As Recommended by Iran

14th October 2011. See  article from  voxy.co.nz

My Tehran for Sale , an Australian film critical of Iran, will screen on New Zealand's Maori Television following reports its lead actress has been sentenced to jail and 90 lashes.

Directed by Iranian-Australian Granaz Moussavi and produced by Adelaide-based Cyan Films, My Tehran for Sale , tells the story of a young actress in contemporary Tehran whose stage work was banned by authorities She meets an Australian-Iranian actor at an underground rage who offers her a chance for a new life free from oppression.

The film was never intended for release in Iran, but has been distributed illegally and condemned by the country's conservative commentators.

My Tehran for Sale screens on Maori Television on Saturday 5th November at 9.30pm.

Update: Spared the Rod

29th October 2011. See  article from  truthdive.com

Iranian actress Marzieh Vafemehr has been spared 90 lashes and further imprisonment for her role in the South Australian film My Tehran for Sale , Amnesty International has stated.

We are extremely pleased to hear that Marzieh has been released without being subjected to the cruel and degrading punishment of flogging, but the crackdown on filmmakers continues in Iran, the Herald Sun quoted Amnesty International's Campaigns Manager, Hannah Harborow, as saying.

Marzieh seems to have been released after an appeal court reduced her imprisonment to three months and overturned the flogging sentence on Monday night, Harborow added.

 

28th October   

Poverty in Saudi Arabia...

Film makers imprisoned for short film revealing poverty
Link Here

poverty in saudi arabia video Three young film-makers are still in detention a week after being arrested for posting a film about poverty in Saudi Arabia on the internet.

Feras Boqna, Hussam al-Drewesh and Khaled al-Rasheed were detained for questioning in Riyadh three days after uploading their 10-minute film, called We are Being Cheated, to the site, the Riyadh-based Saudi Civil and Political Rights Association said.

The film exposed the dire poverty of Saudis who have not benefited from the kingdom's vast oil wealth.

Although the film's scenes, interviews and comments are all considered familiar to the majority of Saudi society the Riyadh-based Saudi Civil and Political Rights Association said, the producers have breached new Saudi media regulations that enable the government to close or fine publications that hurt the kingdom's stability or insult Islam.

 

27th October   

High Stakes Website Game...

Turkish internet censors vs gambling website
Link Here

superbahis logoThe Turkish authorities have tried to disrupt the £ 125m sale of Sportingbet's Turkish-focused online bookmaking business Superbahis.com by blocking the website, which they claim is illegal.

Sportingbet confirmed the site address had been frozen, but said this had happened a number of time previously and the group had contingency plans for dealing with such a regulatory clampdown. It has the mobile numbers of most users of the Turkish site and is able to quickly text them the address of a new site.

The new website was up and running within the same day of the block being introduced, Sportingbet said.

In 2008 two Sportingbet employees and other former employees were arrested in Turkey and a trial is thought possible. The authorities are also trying to target Sportingbet staff based outside Turkey.

 

27th October   

Updated: This is Not a Film...

Iran upholds 6 year jail sentence for noted film director Jafar Panahi
Link Here  full story: Jafar Panahi...Iran jails film director for propaganda against the regime
this is not a film An Iranian appeal court in Tehran has upheld film director Jafar Panahi's sentence to six years in jail, and a twenty-year ban on filmmaking.

Charges against the award-winning director were summarised by state media as: acting against national security and propaganda against the regime .

With the ban now in-place, the filmmaker's This is not a Film , which premiered at Canne Film festival, may be his last work for two decades. The handheld-shot documentary covers Panahi's struggle with censorship whilst being prosecuted.

Update: London Film Festival

27th October 2011. See  article from  littlewhitelies.co.uk

This is Not a Film is thoughtful, inviting and not at all preachy or didactic. It is truly a video postcard, though a potentially contentious one having been smuggled to the 2011 London Film Festival via a memory stick. Still, it stands up a testimony to the defiance against censorship and towards this man's desire to tell stories, in whatever format he is able to.

Offsite: Update

28th March 2012.  See  article from  guardian.co.uk

Jafar Panahi's This Is Not A Film demonstrates by the simple fact of its existence that the political oppression of difficult artists -- a tradition as ancient and venerable as art itself -- is alive and well in modern Iran. No surprises there, perhaps, but more encouragingly it also shows that Iranian responses to being silenced are as inventive as any ever developed by film-makers in repressive regimes. Given the formal and stylistic adventurousness of many movies made under arduous political circumstances, you might even argue that a bracing dose of aggressive censorship and brutal repression can sometimes do wonders for a director's formal and intellectual development.

...Read the full article

This is Not a Film is now available for pre-order . It will be released in the UK by Palisades Tartan on 27th August 2012.

 

25th October   

Dangerous Words...

Egyptian Facebook user sentenced to 3 years in jail for insulting islam
Link Here

Egypt flagEgypt's state media says a Cairo court has sentenced a man to three years in prison for postings on Facebook claimed to be in contempt of Islam.

The MENA state news agency said a court found Ayman Mansour had intentionally mocked Islam and used outrageous and scurrilous language in describing the religion's holy book, the Quran, and its prophet and believers.

The court said freedom of belief doesn't excuse contempt that may offend believers.

 

25th October   

Dangerous Words...

Turkish Facebook user faces 2 years in jail for insulting prime minister
Link Here

Turkey flagA Turkish man could face two years in prison for comments made about Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan on his Facebook page.

A public prosecutor in Ankara is calling for the man's imprisonment based on insulting Erdogan, along with some of his cabinet members and ministers from the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP).

The man is being charge under Article 301 of Turkey's Criminal Code.

 

22nd October   

The Final Word...

Egyptian talk show host suspends his TV show to protest against censorship
Link Here

on tv logoA prominent Egyptian political talk show host has suspended his program indefinitely to protest what he said were efforts by the country's military rulers to stifle free expression.

The presenter, Yosri Fouda, has come to symbolize what many in Egypt see as the future of an independent and professional media after decades of control and censorship by Hosni Mubarak's now deposed regime.

But the council of generals that took power from Mubarak have implemented a series of measures in recent months that media and rights groups say aim to restore state censorship of the media.

Fouda explained his action to suspend his show, The Final Word: This is a cry from the heart . Egypt deserves better than this.

 

22nd October   

Update: Blackberry Less of a Treat...

RIM agrees to block porn in Kuwait
Link Here  full story: BlackBerry Mobile Phones...Winding up countries who can't snoop on users

Kuwait flagRIM, the Toronto-based maker of BlackBerry phones, has reached an agreement with the Kuwaiti communication ministry to block porn sites from its devices by the end of the year.

News of the block was reported Reporters Without Borders, which warns that non-porn websites could be blocked as a result of overblocking. Reporters Without Borders has called on the Ministry of Communication to rescind the measure, which has been worked on for about a year.

 

18th October   

Offsite: Dangerous Like Button...

Bahrain polytechnic expelled students for 'liking' the wrong Facebook pages
Link Here

facebook like buttonEman Oun is one of 31 students permanently expelled from Bahrain Polytechnic for allegedly being involved in pro-democracy protests in February.

65 students were initially investigated, and in June, 63 students were eventually expelled for participating in unlicensed gatherings and marches based on evidence mostly obtained from social media pages like Facebook. After an external review of the case, 32 of the expelled students were allowed to return to Bahrain Polytechnic.

The February protests began while Bahrain Polytechnic was not in session. CEO John Scott sent text messages to students asking them to leave their political views outside the Polytechnic , emphasising the importance of a neutral and safe campus. But according to Asma Darwish, 21, the campus was anything but neutral.

Upon their return, all students signed a new code of conduct, warning of the consequences of activities of a political nature , and students agreed to keep the campus neutral.

Students were subjected to a four-week investigation by a committee including members of the Ministry of Education, where they were confronted with paper records of their social media activity. Darwish said that her Facebook page was secure , and speculated that pro-government people on her list handed her activity over to authorities. While some, like Oun, were peacefully protesting at Pearl Roundabout, others were expelled for liking a page on Facebook.

...Read the full article

 

17th October   

Updated: Dangerous Cartoon...

Violent protests in Tunisia against the broadcasting of the film, Persepolis
Link Here  full story: Persepolis Banned...Iran tries for worldwide ban of movie Persepolis
Persepolis DVD Catherine Deneuve Police in Tunis used tear gas to try to disperse hundreds of muslim extremists who were attacking them with stones, knives and batons.

The Islamists were protesting a decision to broadcast animated film Persepolis which they said denigrated Islam. They were also protesting against a ban on women who wear the niqab, or full-face veil, enrolling in university.

This was the biggest clashes over religion in the Tunisian capital for several years.

Update: TV Channel Chief Firebombed

15th October 2011. See  article from  telegraph.co.uk

Tunisian extremists have firebombed the home of a TV station chief. About a hundred men, some of whom threw Molotov cocktails, lay siege to the home of Nabil Karoui, the head of the private television station Nessma late on Friday, the station reported in its evening news bulletin.

Sofiane Ben Hmida, one of Nessma's star reporters, told AFP the station chief was not at home when the attack on his house took place. But his wife and children were. About 20 of the protesters had managed to get inside. The family managed to get out the back and are safe. The attackers wrecked the house and set it on fire.

Interior ministry spokesman Hichem Meddeb told AFP around a hundred people had turned up outside the house, forced their way inside, broken the windows and torn out two gas pipes. Five people had been arrested, he added.

This was the most serious incident yet in an escalating series of protests against the station's broadcast of Persepolis on October 7. The globally acclaimed animated film on Iran's 1979 revolution 'offended' many Muslims because it depicts an image of God as an old, bearded man.

Earlier on Friday, police fired tear gas at demonstrators as some of the protests against the station degenerated. The main demonstration began peacefully at a central Tunis mosque after Friday prayers, with men and women chanting slogans against Nessma. Thousands of people, many of them Salafist Muslims, were present.

Karoui has already  apologised for having broadcast the film.

Update:  3000 Protest in defence of freedom of expression

17th October 2011. See  article from  monstersandcritics.com

Tunisia flagAround 3,000 people peacefully demonstrated in the capital of Tunisia Sunday in defence of freedom of expression, two days after a violent protest against the broadcast of an animated and supposedly blasphemous film Persepolis .

The demonstration was meant as a riposte after the violent protests that followed the broadcast last week by Nessma TV, a private channel, of the film about the aftermath of the 1979 Iranian revolution.

The film by French-Iranian director Marjane Satrapi, based on the autobiographical graphic novels of the same name, show the author as a young girl chafing under the clampdown on civil liberties and discussing her frustrations with God.

We're demonstrating against extremism, for freedom of expression, including artistic freedom, Semia Mahfoudh, a high school teacher, who attended Sunday's demonstration, told dpa. She said she feared that if Ennahda came to power, Tunisia's tradition of secularism and commitment to gender equality would be jeopardized.

 

16th October   

Impartiality and Revolution...

Ofcom censures Aden Live TV for its programming about South Yemen
Link Here

aden live tv logoAden Live
27 October 2010 to 16 November 2010

Aden Live is a general entertainment service broadcast in Arabic by Dama Ltd, a company based in the UK. The service is aimed at the people of South Yemen and includes programmes based on news, political views, South Yemeni culture and entertainment. It can be received in the Middle East and some parts of Europe by satellite, but it is not on the Sky Electronic Programme Guide and cannot be received in the UK on normal satellite equipment. At the time of the complained about Broadcasts, it was also streamed on the internet.

Background

In 1990 North and South Yemen were united to form the Republic of Yemen ( Yemen ), and Ali Abdullah Saleh became president of Yemen. The capital of Yemen is Sanaa (sometimes spelt Sana ). Aden is a city and governorate in the south of Yemen.

Complaint

In October 2010 Ofcom received a complaint made on behalf of the Government of Yemen about the service Aden Live. In summary, the complaint stated that the channel is encouraging Yemeni nationals in southern Yemen to revolt against the Government of Yemen and to divide the nation into separate states. It stated that the channel was spreading hatred and calling for attacks on government regional offices, the police and the national army; and its content was affecting the civil peace and stability of Yemen.

Having viewed the Broadcasts and the transcripts, Ofcom considered that some of the content of the Broadcasts raised potential issues under the Code and warranted investigation. Ofcom consider rules:

  • Rule 2.4 Programmes must not include material (whether in individual programmes or in programmes taken together) which, taking into account the context, condones or glamorises violent, dangerous or seriously antisocial behaviour and is likely to encourage others to copy such behaviour.

  • Rule 3.1 Material likely to encourage or incite the commission of crime or to lead to disorder must not be included in television or radio services.

  • Rule 5.4 Programmes in the services (listed above1 ) must exclude all expressions of the views and opinions of the person providing the service on matters of political and industrial controversy and matters relating to current public policy (unless that person is speaking in a legislative forum or in a court of law). Views and opinions relating to the provision of programme services are also excluded from this requirement.

  • Rule 5.11 In addition to the rules above, due impartiality must be preserved on matters of major political and industrial controversy and major matters relating to current public policy by the person providing a service (listed above2 ) in each programme or in clearly linked and timely programmes.

  • Rule 5.12 In dealing with matters of major political and industrial controversy and major matters relating to current public policy an appropriately wide range of significant views must be included and given due weight in each programme or in clearly linked and timely programmes. Views and facts must not be misrepresented.

Ofcom Decision: Breaches of Rules 2.4, 5.4, 5.11 and 5.12

It is not within Ofcom's remit to take a view on the legitimacy or otherwise of the policies and actions of the Southern Movement or those opposed to the Yemeni government. However, in Ofcom's view, material which condones or glorifies death in support of a cause, revolt against a government and the carrying of weapons can reasonably be considered material which condones or glamorises violent or dangerous behaviour.

Given that Dama directs its broadcasts predominantly to a South Yemeni audience, many of whose members (given the political context set out above) are likely to support the Southern Movement and oppose the Government of Yemen, Ofcom considered that the material in examples could reasonably be considered as material likely to encourage others to copy violent or dangerous behaviour.  Ofcom noted Dama's comment that the carrying of arms by tribespeople is common in Yemen … and there are likely to be far more guns than people in Yemen . Ofcom considers that, while this context may to some extent account for the prevalence of references to arms in the examples, it made it more likely that the material would have encouraged others to carry weapons. In light of the above, we concluded that the material was in breach of Rule 2.4.

However Ofcom found that the example content was not likely to incite the commission of crime or to lead to disorder and so did not breach Rule 3.1.

Dama accepted that in relation to the requirement for due impartiality, on two occasions, the presenters may have strayed a little from their roles as presenter. Presenters may express their own views on matters of political controversy within the limits of the Code. However alternative viewpoints must be appropriately represented. Accordingly, Ofcom considered that the Broadcasts as a whole (as translated and transcribed for Ofcom), due impartiality was not preserved on matters of major political controversy and major matters relating to current public policy, and an appropriately wide range of significant views was not included and given due weight. Ofcom therefore considered that for the reasons given above the Broadcasts breached Rules 5.11 and 5.12 of the Code.

The views and opinions of the Licensee on the contemporaneous political situation in Yemen, including the policies and actions of the Government of Yemen could reasonably be identified from the material and representations. These views and opinions were in turn expressed in different ways and to varying degrees in the output of the channel, contrary to the requirements of Rule 5.4. Ofcom therefore considered that the relevant material was in breach of Rule 5.4 of the Code.

Ofcom Considering Sanctions

The right to broadcast comes with responsibilities. It is important that broadcasters do not use their licensed service to condone or glamorise violent, dangerous or seriously antisocial behaviour, or fail to maintain due impartiality on matters of major political controversy and major matters relating to current public policy, in contravention of the Code.

Dama has assured Ofcom that it is now well aware of the need for due impartiality in its broadcasts, and is taking steps to address this going forward . However Ofcom considered Dama's contraventions of the Code to be serious. Dama is therefore put on notice that these contraventions of the Code are being considered by Ofcom for statutory sanction.

 

16th October   

Update: Generally Repugnant Book Censorship...

Turkey to prosecute publisher and translator of Snuff by Chuck Palahniuk on obscenity charges
Link Here  full story: Book Censorship in Turkey...Freedom of speech under duress

Snuff Chuck Palahniuk Two books by American authors are currently on trial in Turkey on obscenity charges which could lead to imprisonment for their publishers and translators.

The publisher and translator of the Turkish translation of The Soft Machine by William Burroughs are on trial with the latest hearing held on 11 October. The case was brought following an investigation by the Board for Protection of Minors from Obscene Publications. The Board pronounced the book as not compatible with the morals of society and the people's honour , injurious to sexuality and generally repugnant .

In September 2011, another publisher and translator were told that they will be brought to trial, also on charges of obscenity under Article 266, this time for the Turkish translation of a contemporary work, Snuff , by American writer Chuck Palahniuk. The book had been brought before the Board for the Protection of Children from Obscene Publications in May 2011 which judged that there were grounds for indictment. The publisher was also accused of releasing the book, without warning and with no precautions to ensure that children did not read it. If found guilty, the owner of the Ayrinti Publishing House, Hasan Basri Ciplak and the book's translator, Funda Uncu, could be imprisoned for between six months and three years.

PEN Turkey has protested the decision to press charges against the publishers of the book, and nominated Snuff as the Centre's Book of the Month in reaction to the accusation.

The book, published in 2008 to mixed reviews, is a satire on the American pornography industry. The Board has deemed the book as immoral. In her defence, translator Uncu pointed out that Palahniuk is a world-renowned author and argued that rather than being pornography, the book is a critique of the commoditisation of women .

...English Pen makes a call for action against these prosecutions. See  details from  englishpen.org

 

13th October   

Offsite: Ofcom Bans Press TV...

But who knows what to believe when everything comes across as propaganda
Link Here  full story: Press TV...Political censoship merges with TV censorship

Press TV logoThe UK Office of Communications (Ofcom) has succumbed to the British Royal Family's demands to ban Press TV activities despite the Iranian news network's compliance with the law.

The British media regulator has reportedly decided to remove the channel from the SKY platform. The move is considered to be in violation of the UK media law and the result of mounting pressure on the organization by certain members of the Royal Family and government.

...Read the article for yourself, or perhaps better to wait for confirmation from other sources

 

11th October   

Red, White and the Green...

Documentary about Iranian election protests banned from Beirut International Film Festival
Link Here
red white and greenThe Lebanese Government has banned an Iranian documentary showing the violence leading up to the 2009 presidential elections from being screened at the Beirut Film Festival, along with the man who made it.  The coalition government in Lebanon is led by Hezbollah, which is a strong ally of the Iranian regime.

Nader Davoodi's Red, White and the Green was to be screened at the Middle East Documentary Film Competition.

Lebanese censorship authorities on 7th October informed us we would have to pull Iranian director Nader Davoodi's film Red, White and the Green from our programme. Colette Naufal, director of the Beirut International Film Festival was also informed that Davoodi would not be allowed to travel to Lebanon.

Iranian Kurdish filmmaker Ibrahim Al-Saaidi, director of Mandoo, was also unable to attend the festival due to unspecified travel difficulties, added Nafaul.

 

11th October   

Offsite: Treading Carefully...

In vindicating al-Jazeera's publication of diplomatic documents, Ofcom is supporting truth-telling in a turbulent region
Link Here

aljazeera palesti papersNine months ago, when al-Jazeera and the Guardian jointly published the Palestine papers, revealing the scale of concessions secretly made by Palestinian negotiators in a decade of talks with Israeli leaders, we were accused of biased, agenda-driven coverage. As head of the investigative team that produced the papers, I was accused on live television by the chief Palestinian negotiator, Saeb Erekat, of being a CIA agent on a mission to destroy the chances of Palestinian statehood.

Today Ofcom, which was asked by the PLO to investigate whether our coverage had been unfair to both it and to Erekat, published a 19-page ruling that unequivocally vindicates our coverage.

...Read the full article

Comment: The A Team

It seems strange to let TV taste and decency censors loose on seriously diplomatically sensitive issues.

The usual role for the Ofcom censors is to get easily offended by trivial cases of strong language or anything remotely sexy. They must have an A-Team of more robust intellects to deal with the more difficult cases like this.

 

8th October   

Women Journalists Without Chains...

Yemini press freedom activist is joint winner of the Nobel Peace Prize
Link Here
nobel prizeThe Committee to Protect Journalists is delighted that the 2011 Nobel Peace Prize has been awarded to renowned Yemeni press freedom activist Tawakul Karman, Chairwoman of Women Journalists Without Chains.

Tawakul Karman's selection for the Nobel Peace Prize not only recognizes her relentless battle for a free press in Yemen but also highlights the free flow of information as vital for peaceful and democratic societies, said CPJ Middle East and North Africa Coordinator Mohamed Abdel Dayem. We rejoice with Karman and hope that this prize helps to shed light on the targeting of journalists which continues to plague the Arab world.

This year's Nobel Peace Prize has been awarded jointly to three women, Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Liberian Leymah Gbowee and Tawakul Karman of Yemen.

They were recognised for their non-violent struggle for the safety of women and for women's rights to full participation in peace-building work .

Mrs Sirleaf is Africa's first female elected head of state, Ms Gbowee is a Liberian peace activist

 

1st October   

Update: Reverting to Old Ways...

CPJ unimpressed by the return of newspaper censorship in Egypt
Link Here  full story: Press Freedom in Egypt...Press under duress in Egypt

sawt al ummaThe Committee to Protect Journalists condemns the censorship of two newspapers in the past four days, the first instances of their kind since the ouster of former president Hosni Mubarak in February. Production of the Saturday edition of the independent weekly Sawt al-Umma was halted, while the daily Rose al-Youssef was prevented from printing a page in today's paper that was to feature a controversial story.

The military government has revived Mubarak-era repression, said Mohamed Abdel Dayem, CPJ's Middle East and North Africa program coordinator. These two instances of censorship have been preceded by the closing of a news bureau, the interrogation of journalists, and other instances of press restrictions and intimidation.

Al-Ahram printing house, which publishes the semi-official daily Al-Ahram and other newspapers, told Sawt al-Umma editors that it was halting production of its Saturday edition because of the paper's story on Mubarak's ongoing trial, news reports said. Sawt al-Umma was a frequent target of harassment under Mubarak's regime, CPJ research shows.

The Rose al-Youssef article that offended described an alleged Israeli spy once stationed in Cairo.

 

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