Melon Farmers Original Version

Middle East Censorship News

2012: Jan-March

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29th March   

Updated: Religious Extremists Bay for Tweeter's Blood...

Tweeter faces extreme punishment for supposed blasphemy in Kuwait
Link Here
Full story: Blasphemy in Kuwait...Baying for blood

Some lawmakers threatened to stage protests if the government failed to arrest a tweeter who allegedly committed blasphemy by insulting Mohammad and other religious figures.

MP Jamaan Al-Harbash said, the nation should punish him if the government fails to do so. We are waiting for the arrest of the renegade so that calamity can be avoided.

MP Waleed Al-Tabatabae said, if the 'barking dog' is not arrested and legal measures are not taken against him, we will call gather at the Irada Square today.

Badar Al-Dahoum called for killing the irreligious man who insulted the Prophet, and asked for according the death penalty to those insult Islam, Prophet and his companions.

Writer Mohammad Al-Mulaifi said, we will wait outside the State Security Building to submit a complaint demanding this person's arrest.

Update: Arrested

29th March 2012.  See  article from

Kuwaiti authorities have now arrested a man for insulting Mohammad via his Twitter account, the Interior Ministry said.

The ministry claimed in a statement that man had defamed the Islamic faith and slandered Mohammad, his companions and his wife.


26th March   

Update: Saudis Ignore the 'Day of No Outrage'...

Another tweeter causes 'outrage' in Saudi Arabia
Link Here
Full story: Blasphemy in Saudi...Blasphemy laws used to settle private scores

A man in Saudi Arabia is accused of offending Islam and Mohammed in remarks on Twitter.

Hundreds of Twitter users were 'outraged' and demanded the arrest of Mohammed Salama on apostasy charges as was the case of Hamza Kashgari who is already in jail for supposedly offensive tweets.

The Saudi Arabic language daily Sabq, which carried part of Salama's remarks, said he claimed Mohammed had once tried to commit a suicide because he doubted the Koran. It also quoted Salama as saying on Twitter : If God gives chances but does not forget, then why He forgot Israel and did not give chances to Gaddafi. The paper also said Salama believed that God will let us enjoy liquor, usury and sorcery in Paradise after we were deprived of them in life.

The paper reported that Hundreds of Twitter users are demanding the arrest and trial of Salama for insulting Islam, the Prophet  and God as was the case with Kashgari.


24th March   

Pants Censorship...

Dubai art fair censors four exhibits
Link Here

The Art Dubai art fair has, every year since its inception 2007, has unsurprisingly seen censorship problems relating to the content or message of its featured works.

The authorities have forced organisers to remove four works from the 2012 fair, two of which directly deal with the Arab Spring.

The first work is entitled After Washing , a round painting by Palestinina artist Shadi Alzaqzouq. The canvas depicts a woman wearing a foulard (veil) and holding a pair of men's pants upon which with the words clear off are written in Arabic. According to French daily Liberation, the artist had already been denied a visa by the authorities.

you were my only love by zakaria ramhaniThe second is You Were my Only Love by Moroccan Zakaria Ramhani, a large canvas depicting a scene from the Egyptian revolution, where members of the police and military have stripped and beaten a protester.

These two pieces were to be displayed at the Artspace Dubai gallery. The gallery's director, Maliha Al Tabari, said that the intervention had not been officially sanctioned. She said she would put the two works in display in the London gallery which she has just opened.

The two other works which were taken down were a statue of a naked man by Lebanese scultor Nadim Karim, and a painting by Iranian Khorow Hassanzadeh which were deemed offensive to Imam Ali .


23rd March   

Update: A Thin Legislative Programme...

Israel proposes law to ban thin fashion models including Naomi Campbell
Link Here
Full story: Photoshopped Models...Campaigners to ban photoshopped adverts

Israel is set to introduce a law banning underweight models from adverts.

Under the proposed legislation publications would also have to disclose when they use altered images to make women and men appear thinner.

The ban appears to be the first time a government has used legislation to take on a fashion industry accused of abetting eating disorders by idealising extreme thinness.

The law, which will not apply to foreign publications sold in Israel, requires models to produce a medical report, dating back no more than three months, at every shoot that will be used on the Israeli market, stating that they are not malnourished by World Health Organisation standards. WHO says a body-mass index below 18.5 is indicative of malnutrition.

That ludicrously means that models such as Kate Moss with a BMI of around 17 and Naomi Campbell with a BMI of around 6.5, would be considered too thin.

Top Israeli model Adi Neumman said she would not pass under the new rules, because her BMI was 18.3. She said she ate well and exercised. She also said the legislation should have focused on health and well-being, not weight.


19th March   

The Atheist...

Anti-atheist Egyptian film attracts the inevitable death threats just based on the name
Link Here

The Egyptian Censorship Authority has given script approval for the controversial film, The Atheist amid apprehensions about the reactions of the predominantly conservative population as well as Islamist politicians over tackling such a sensitive issue.

Final approval for screening in movie theaters will only be given after the filming is complete and the film is again evaluated by the censors.

The idea of making a film about atheists has sparked inevitable 'outrage' and the film's writer and director Nader Seif al-Din has already started to receive death threats from people demanding that he relinquish the project altogether.

The film, the first in the history of Egyptian cinema to discuss atheism, tells the story of a preacher who has an atheist son and keeps trying to talk him into changing his mind. The preacher is also the presenter of a religious program on a satellite channel and starts becoming the laughing stock of viewers after his son's beliefs become known. He get calls on air telling him he is not fit for preaching since he is unable to make his son believe in God.

In order to avoid criticism by Islamists, Seif al-Din has said that he is going to consult several religious scholars about the content of the film to make sure it presents a strong argument about the existence of God and against atheism.

According to Seif al-Din, The Atheist is not against religion as some might guess from the name, but is the exact opposite. Seif al-Din explained that through discussing the problem of atheism, the film stresses the importance of faith and the evidence of the existence of God.

When asked why he decided to tackle an issue that is likely to cause a lot of problems if only because of the film's name, Seif al-Din replied that he had noticed that the number of atheists in Egypt is increasing and that they have started calling for their rights. This, he said, made him feel that it is necessary to make a film that addresses the problem and that highlights the misconceptions endorsed by atheists.


17th March   

No Respect for Freedom...

Art censored by officials who claimed disrespect for Kuwait's repressive tradition
Link Here

Kuwaiti artist Shurooq Amin is in shock after her exhibition of paintings was shut down without an explanation.

Reports say that government officials walked into the show, three hours after its opening, and took the paintings down, saying they had received a complaint over the content of the paintings.

In an interview with Al-Qabas newspaper, Amin attacked censorship in Kuwait saying the men who closed down her show interpreted the paintings the way they wanted, saying they were disrespectful of the society's tradition and took them down.

Blogger Abrar AlShammari commented via a post entitled Paint to Freedom:

We can't find proper books in our own country anymore, now with Virgin being shut down and all the good writers banned in the other bookstores. Our movies are censored, and instead we're fed a bunch of media advertisements to turn us into consumerist robots during those 15 minutes that the cinema had cut out. Our writings are censored, it's inappropriate to write about love and inappropriate to address the endless issues our society is facing. How does denial help anyone? Why is it believed that if we pretend a problem doesn't exist, it'll go away? It only gets worse the more it's ignored

The intellectuals of the Arab society need to unite to fight censorship and ignorance and regression.

The paintings seemed controversial for some people as they tackle the sex taboo. The exhibition was entitled It's a man's world .

In reaction to shutting down her exhibition, Amin posted her paintings on her website .


11th March   

TV Censors...

Israeli troops raid and close down two Palestinian TV stations
Link Here

Reporters Without Borders is deeply shocked by the raids that Israeli troops carried out on two Palestinian TV stations in the West Bank in the early hours of 29 February, seizing equipment and thereby forcing the stations to close.

These arbitrary and illegal operations served yet again to intimidate Palestinian media and journalists, the victims of repeated attacks by the Israel Defence Forces, Reporters Without Borders said: We urge the Israeli military to return the confiscated equipment and allow the two stations to resume broadcasting.

The raids were carried out by members of the IDF accompanied by intelligence officers on Al-Watan in Ramallah and Al-Quds Educational TV in Al-Bireh (about 2 km outside Ramallah). Both stations are located in territory controlled by the Palestinian Authority.

The IDF claimed that the raids were carried out on two pirate TV stations because they were broadcasting without a licence on frequencies that endangered communications with civilian aircraft.


10th March   

Update: The Supreme Council of Cyberspace...

Iran's elite appointed as internet censors
Link Here
Full story: Iranian Internet Censorship...Extensive internet blocking

  Chief internet censor

Iran's supreme leader has ordered the creation of an internet censorship agency that includes top military, security and political figures in the country's boldest attempt yet to control the internet.

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei claimed that the grandiously named, Supreme Council of Cyberspace, will be tasked with preventing harm to Iranians who go online, state TV reported.

The report did not spell out specifically the kind of harms that the council would tackle. But officials have in the past described two separate threats: computer viruses created by Iran's rivals aimed at sabotaging its industry, particularly its controversial nuclear program, and a culture invasion aimed at undermining the Islamic Republic.

The Supreme Council of Cyberspace Censorship will be headed by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and includes powerful figures in the security establishment such as the intelligence chief, the commander of the powerful Revolutionary Guards, and the country's top police chief. It also includes the speaker of parliament, state media chiefs, government ministers in charge of technology-oriented portfolios, and several cyber experts.


10th March   

Update: Blasphemy Untweeted...

Hamza Kashgari repents in Saudi court over blasphemy and a supposedly offensive tweet
Link Here
Full story: Blasphemy in Saudi...Blasphemy laws used to settle private scores

A Saudi journalist facing the death penalty for a tweet deemed to be blasphemous is reportedly to be released.

Hamza Kashgari had offended the easily offended with the tweet:

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.

Kashgari is reported to have repented at a court hearing and is now expected to be released in the coming weeks after a light sentence .


9th March   

Update: Nude Photo Revolutionaries Calendar...

Join the screams against a society of violence, racism, sexism, sexual harassment and hypocrisy
Link Here
Full story: Naked Blogger...Brave Egyptian blogger shows freedom loving spirit

The Nude Photo Revolutionaries Calendar was launched on 8 March 2012, International Women's Day, in homage to Egyptian atheist, student and blogger Aliaa Magda Elmahdy who posted a nude photo of herself, announcing the post on Twitter under the hashtag, #NudePhotoRevolutionary.

You can download and/or purchase the calendar via article from

The calendar is the idea of campaigner Maryam Namazie to support Aliaa Magda Elmahdy and join her screams against a society of violence, racism, sexism, sexual harassment and hypocrisy . Namazie says:

What with Islamism and the religious right being obsessed with women's bodies and demanding that we be veiled, bound, and gagged, nudity breaks taboos and is an important form of resistance.

The calendar is designed by SlutWalk Co-founder Toronto, Sonya JF Barnett who says:

I felt that women needed to stand in solidarity with Aliaa. It takes a lot of guts to do what she did, and the backlash is always expected and can quite hurtful. She needed to know that there are others like her, willing to push the envelope to express outrage.

Others who join the scream include mother and daughter Anne Baker and Poppy Wilson St James, teacher Luisa Batista, We are Atheism Founder Amanda Brown, atheist bloggers Greta Christina and Emily Dietle, FEMEN activist Alena Magelat, photographer Mallorie Nasrallah, actress Cleo Powell, freethinker Nina Sankari , writer Saskia Vogel, and mother Maja Wolna. The women are photographed by Julian Baker, Adam Brown, Grzegorz Brzezicki, Lucy Fox-Bohan, Agnieszka Hodowana, Ben Hopper, N. Maxwell Lander, Mallorie Nasrallah, Mark Neurdenburg, Vitaliy Pavlenko, and Michael Rosen.

On nudity and the calendar, Mallorie Nasrallah says:

When a tool of oppression can be turned in to an assertion of power, it is a beautiful thing. Nudity when celebrated harms no one, and when made shameful and barbaric harms everyone. Nina Sankari says: In solidarity with Aliaa Magda Elmahdy, I would like to stress that our bodies (and thoughts) belong to us and to nobody else. Anne Baker says Men in frocks constrain, control and intimidate women the world over in the name of God ... it has to stop. Greta Christina says: Sexual freedom is an important freedom --- but it's one that commonly gets ignored or trivialized. Maja Wolna says: Irrespective of sex, sexual orientation, religion or culture we are equal. Personal dignity is a foundation of human civilization. Amanda Brown says: Dogma will never determine where I sit, what I wear, or how I live and Poppy Wilson St. James says: I find it strange that it is more acceptable to seen on screen violence and guns than even a nipple. There is something wrong with our mindset if that is what we accept as the norm and shy away from nudity which is a completely natural state.

Saskia Vogel says:

This calendar hopefully will reach people who are uncomfortable with empowered female nudity, and encourage them to reconsider their feelings about the nude figure. Luisa Batista says: I think the calendar is important, because it may help to open people's eyes and hearts. Women -- and men -- who are afraid, may find courage and feel supported by the quotes and faces and bodies of the people in the calendar.

According to Emily Dietle, If it weren't for people who took a strong stand against misogyny and for free-expression, we'd still be in an age where showing your ankles was taboo. Alena Magelat says: Our naked body is our challenge to patriarchy, dictatorship and violence. Smart people we inspire; dictators are horrified .

The women in the calendar stand firm in solidarity with Aliaa Magda Elmahdy and the countless women across the world who are denied basic rights, freedoms and dignity.

Join the Scream on Facebook and on Twitter under the hashtag #NudePhotoRevolutionary.

You can download and/or purchase the calendar via article from


8th March   

A Bookfair Without Books...

Holding a bookfair in Saudi when just about everything is banned
Link Here

The International Book Fair in Riyadh, which kicked off Tuesday, appears to be surrounded by a wall of censorship from both the state and the Salafis, who waged a campaign to ban it.

The absence of Syrian publishing houses was conspicuous this year after the Saudi Ministry of Culture and Information banned them from the book fair in a political move.

The Iraqi publishing house Dar al-Jamal was also banned for the second year in a row. In addition, the space preserved for known publishing companies was reduced.

Religious warnings were issued that called for people not to attend the book fair and buy destructive books.

These edicts came out weeks before the Riyadh Book Fair opened, as rumors mounted that the Ministry of Culture and Information had banned 40 Islamic publishing houses from participating, which the ministry later denied.

This annual book fair is considered the most important cultural event in the kingdom. It includes books that local bookstores do not normally carry. In addition, it is an opportunity for Saudi and Arab intellectuals to come together at seminars held on the sidelines of the fair.

The issue that might prove most problematic for organizers this year is that by the Saudi Ministry of Culture and Information to allow men and women to attend the book fair at the same time, which is a departure from the norm. That means hardliners will likely intensify their attacks on the event.


3rd March   

Cairo Exit Forcibly Exited from Film Festival...

Film banned in Egypt for the taboo topic of a muslim/coptic christian affair
Link Here

Egyptian film-makers and critics denounced the authorities for banning the screening of a supposedly taboo film about a love story between a Christian woman and a Muslim man.

We denounce the fact that censorship authorities have prevented the screening of Hesham Issawi's Cairo Exit at the Luxor African Film Festival, dozens of film-makers and critics said in a signed statement.

They charged the censorship authorities had failed to respond to festival organisers on whether they could screen the movie even outside the main festival.

The festival organisers suggested to the censorship authorities that the film be shown only to members of the jury, critics and journalists but they never replied, the statement said. The censorship authorities stalled, preventing the film from being screened.

Under Egyptian law, films must obtain a written permit from censorship authorities in order to be screened. Anyone violating the procedure could be sentenced to jail.

Cairo Exit deals with the ultra-sensitive issue of a relationship between a Muslim and a Coptic Christian. It was screened at the Tribeca Film Festival in New York last year.

Religious conflict between Moslems and Coptic is one important taboo in Egyptian media.


29th February   

Update: Denial Law Denied...

French constitutional court strikes down Armenian genocide denial law but Sarkozy orders another try
Link Here

French President Nicolas Sarkozy has ordered his government to draft a new law punishing denial of the Armenian genocide after a top court struck down a previous bill.

The Constitutional Council earlier ruled the law backed by Sarkozy infringed on freedom of expression. The bill, which covers the mass killing of Armenians by Ottoman Turks during World War I, was passed by both houses of the French parliament.

Turkey welcomed the ruling. But now Sarkozy seems set on re-opening Turkish antagonism. Noting the great disappointment and profound sadness of the law's backers, Sarkozy's office wrote in a statement:

The President of the Republic considers that [genocide] denial is intolerable and must therefore be punished. He has asked the government to prepare a new draft taking into account the decision of the Constitutional Council.


26th February

 Offsite Comment: Press TV should have been allowed to keep rolling...

Link Here
Full story: Press TV...Political censoship merges with TV censorship
Iran's news channel was just part of a broad spectrum of satellite propaganda that ranges from Russia Today to Fox. By Peter Preston

See article from


22nd February   

Updated: Interpol Enforces Saudi Totalitarianism...

Interpol threatens the free world and the very notion of justice
Link Here
Full story: Blasphemy in Saudi...Blasphemy laws used to settle private scores

  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
See also Saudi king arrests writer who abused the Prophet from

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. From

Saudi 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

It 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


17th February   

Updated: Kuwait Goes GaGa...

Music distributor pulls out of Kuwait citing censorship
Link Here

A leading music distributor has closed its Kuwait operations after claiming censorship of albums and artwork had made it impossible to run a full-scale operation.

Music Master, which distributes music from major labels such as Universal, Sony and EMI, said curbs on content from bestselling artists such as Lady Gaga and Beyonce had left it battling to maintain its profit margins.  Music Master is one of the Middle East's largest distributors with operations in the Gulf States, Egypt and Lebanon. The company sells into some 50 stores across Kuwai.

Saeed El Ajou, managing director of the Dubai-based company said:

It comes down to censorship issues. There is too much censorship to justify having a full-scale operation there. If you can't push your top-selling artists then it makes it hard to justify having a full-scale business. The avant-garde artists - Lady Gaga, Beyonce - who are the bestsellers, tend to cause a problem.

It is basically lyrics and artwork and anything that is seen as provocative won't go through. Anything which has any provocative lyrics or any innuendo.

It is purely Kuwait-specific, everywhere else we are very fortunate that there are no censorship issues. Even Saudi has been liberal in what they allow through.

Update: Virgin Megastore quits Kuwait citing censorship

17th February 2012. From

The Virgin Megastore in Kuwait closing at the end of the month. Sources have suggested that increasing government censorship led to the decision as almost 60% of products they sell are banned in Kuwait.

In a statement posted in their website Nisreen Shocair, President of Virgin Megastore Middle East and North Africa said:

This has been a difficult decision, but it is one that will allow us to better manage our resources and focus on growing the markets that support the Virgin Megastore business model.

The staff from Virgin Megastore confirmed that most products that are in high demand in other parts of the word are unavailable in Kuwait.


13th February   

Update: Let them Come and Arrest Me...

Swiss prosecutors consider Turkish minister's denial of the Armenian Massacre
Link Here

Swiss prosecutors have launched an initial investigation to see whether Turkey's EU minister breached the law by denying that the mass killings of Armenians a century ago were genocide.

According to media reports, during a recent visit to Switzerland Egemen Bagis denied that there had been an Armenian genocide, adding Let them come and arrest me.

Under Swiss law it is a crime to deny that the killings of up to 1.5 million Armenians during World War One constituted an act of genocide.

A Turkish Foreign Ministry official, speaking on condition of anonymity, later said Turkey had summoned the Swiss ambassador to Ankara to tell him that the probe was "unacceptable."


13th February   

Dangerous Thinking...

Man is on trial in the UAE for atheist Facebook comments which offended muslims
Link Here
A facebook user is being prosecuted in UAE for updates he posted on the social network that prosecutors claim insulted Islam.

The Egyptian born man appeared at Abu Dhabi Criminal Court on blasphemy charges and has now been sent to a clinic for mental-health tests.

His facebook posts included a picture that depicted God as an ordinary man, along with what prosecutors claimed were comments designed to insult the Quran and Mohammed. The man told investigators that his father was an atheist and that he had struggled with religious questions since he was 13 years old.

He said he had tried to be a good Muslim but had too many unanswered questions. A court official said: The comments were very insulting to people with a Muslim point of view , adding that the facebooker could be jailed for five years if found guilty. The court is waiting for the results of a psychological evaluation before the next hearing, later this month.


13th February   

Toy Censors...

Iran adds Simpsons dolls to its list of banned toys
Link Here

An Iranian government-affiliated agency has banned dolls of the Simpsons cartoon characters, who join Barbie and others on a toy blacklist,.

We do not want to promote this cartoon by importing the toys, Shargh daily quoted Mohammad Hossein Farjoo, secretary of policymaking at the Institute for the Intellectual Development of Children and Young Adults, as saying.

He did not elaborate on what was wrong with the Simpsons specifically. But he noted that any doll on which genitals are distinguishable, as well as dolls of adults, are banned. So were toys with speakers that blare out the voices of Western singers, or toy kitchen sets that include glasses for drinking alcoholic beverages.

Farjoo said however that dolls of Spiderman and Superman were authorized for sale. They help oppressed people and they have a positive stance, he said.


11th February   

Update: De-mailed...

Iran turns off major portions of the internet
Link Here
Full story: Iranian Internet Censorship...Extensive internet blocking

Iran is closing down the country's internet access. The government cut has blocked major websites leaving millions without email and social networks.

The shutdown comes at a time when inhabitants are preparing to celebrate the 33rd anniversary of the Islamic Revolution, complete with rumours of anti-government protests.

Gmail, Google and Yahoo have been blocked and users have been unable to log in to their online banking. This seems related to the secure internet protocol https being totally blocked.

Last month, the country's Information Minister announced plans for a government-run intranet as a replacement for the internet.


3rd February   

Update: Dangerous Movies...

Egyptian film star sentenced to jail for offending islam
Link Here
Full story: Blasphemy in Egypt...Unswaying belief in injustice

One of the Arab world's best known Egyptian actors has been sentenced to three months in jail for supposedly offending Islam.

The judge confirmed that  veteran actor Adel Imam was convicted in absentia of insulting the religion. The judge said Imam can appeal.

The state-run Ahram Online English website reported that he was found guilty for defaming Islam in a 2007 movie in which he plays a corrupt businessman who tries to buy a university diploma. The film, Morgan Ahmed Morgan , included a scene with bearded Muslim men wearing traditional Islamic robes. Other reports said the court objected to his use of Islamic symbols in the film and others he has appeared in.

offsite Extract: More

4th April 2012. See article from

The Arab world's most revered comedian faces potential jail time for a series of supposedly blasphemous films --- released two decades ago.

In February, a case was filed against Imam by Arsan Mansour, a lawyer accusing the actor of consistently slandering Islam --- as well as several of its symbols, such as the jilbab and, in all seriousness, the beard --- in his films Al-Irhab wal-Kabab ( Terrorism and Kebab ), Al-Irhabi ( The Terrorist ) and, breaking with tradition, Teyour al-Zalam ( Birds of Darkness ). The films were released in 1992, 1994 and 1995, respectively.

While the three films did generate some controversy upon their original release, this delayed legal reaction is being seen by most as having little to do with any alleged onscreen blasphemy, and more to do with the changes sweeping the nation.

Gamal Eid, the human rights lawyer spearheading Imam's defense team said:

The real problem is the precedent this case has already set, as well as its implications. Over the past two months, three major film and television productions have been shut down for supposedly violating Sharia. Cases similar to the one against Imam have also targeted acclaimed filmmakers like Sherif Arafa, Wahid Hamed --- both of whom can be counted among Imam's frequent collaborators --- and several others. These are only a few of the latest higher-profile incidents.

As Eid puts it, They're coming out of the woodwork now --- all these self-righteous characters with cloudy intentions and misguided beliefs.

...Read the full article


25th January   

Update: Murdering Freedom of Thought...

Turkish PM unimpressed by French bill to criminalise the denial of the Armenian Massacre. So are Turkish people free to call the massacre genocide?
Link Here

The Turkish prime minister has said a bill passed by the French parliament on the mass killing of Armenians under Ottoman rule is racist .

Recep Tayyip Erdogan told the Turkish parliament in Ankara that the bill murdered freedom of thought .

This is a racist and discriminatory approach and if you cannot see this, then you are deaf to the footsteps of fascism in Europe.

Turkey, he added, hoped for the success of a French appeal against the bill to the constitutional commission.

We will wait and see the developments and decide on our reply to them, he said.

Turkey, which rejects the term genocide , has said the number of deaths was much smaller.


25th January   

Update: Jamming the BBC...

Iranians lobby the UN to end Iranian censorship of foreign media
Link Here
Full story: Iran Jams Western Media...BBC, Voice of America and Deutsche Welle

Iranian protestors gathered in Geneva, demanding the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), a UN agency, to take action on the Iranian government's illegal internet and communications censorship.

The protesters held placards demanding an end to the Iranian government's censorship and satellite jamming. The gathering drew the attention of attending diplomats to the widespread repression of freedom of speech and access to information.

In this rally, that was afforded protection by the Geneva police, participants demanded ITU members to act to the fullest extent of their legal capacity to stop the jamming of Persian-language satellites and eliminate censorship conducted by the Iranian government under the banner of national internet .

Update: UN tells Iran to stop jamming satellites

29th February 2012.  See  article from

The International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran welcomed a new International Telecommunication Union (ITU) regulation requiring governments take necessary action to stop jamming of satellite broadcasts from within their jurisdiction.

The ITU and its member states should immediately start monitoring Iran's compliance with the new regulation and take any additional steps needed to ensure Iranian authorities stop interfering with satellite broadcasts, the Campaign added.

This is the first meaningful action taken by the ITU and the UN to make legal provisions to counter censorship of satellite programs within various countries, said Aliakbar Mousavi, former Iranian MP who served as deputy head of the Parliamentary Telecommunications Committee.

The Campaign's spokesperson Hadi Ghaemi said:

The ITU has now made Iran's legal obligations perfectly clear. But the international community, including telecommunications corporations like Eutelsat, needs to sustain its efforts to make sure Iran stops jamming satellite broadcasts..


24th January   

Update: Denied by Turkey...

French parliament passes bill to criminalise the denial of the Armenian Massacre
Link Here

The French Senate has approved a controversial bill that makes it a criminal offence to deny that genocide was committed by Ottoman Turks against Armenians during World War I. The Senate approved the bill by 127 votes to 86.

The measure will now be sent to President Sarkozy for final approval.

The bill's passage in the lower house caused major tensions with Turkey. Ankara froze ties with France after the vote last month and promised further measures if the Senate backed the proposal.

The BBC's correspondent in Istanbul, Jonathan Head, says stronger Turkish measures could include the withdrawal of ambassadors and creating more barriers to French businesses in Turkey.

In the first reaction from Ankara, Justice Minister Sadullah Ergin condemned the bill. He told the CNN-Turk television channel:

The decision made by the Senate is a great injustice and shows total lack of respect for Turkey.

The Turkish embassy in Paris warned that if President Sarkozy approved the bill, the damage done to relations between the two countries would be permanent.


24th January   

Turkish Youth Threatened by Sexy Pop Videos...

Turkish TV censor imposes massive fine for sexy dancing in music videos
Link Here

Turkey's TV censor RTUK has imposed massive fines and rebuked a television channel and six musical videos judging them to be obscene and a threat to the morals of the country's youth.

According to a report on Turkish website Bianet, the 160,000-euro fine was imposed on the channel Show TV for the mambo and cha-cha-cha dances it broadcast, which the judges found to be erotic , and performed by dancers wearing obscene costumes. The same epithet was applied in fining parts of a serial M.U.C.K. . As the supreme council for Turkish radio and television noted, these transmissions had gone on the air during protected times of day and without and warning about the nature of their contents, even though they could damage the physical, mental or moral development of children and young people.

The six pop videos, which are available for view on other channels, were reprimanded for similar reasons. The films have clear erotic references, as in the case of one made by singer Teoman, and they are very popular because of the podium dancers they feature in a 1920s brothel setting. The dances feature a great deal of gyration, but no full nudity.

The artists interviewed by the site criticised the reprimand. Do we have to play with the Smurfs in order to make it here? asked Murat Dalkilic, somewhat ironically.

Criticism of the intervention has also come from opposition newspaper Hurriyet, which opposes the Islamic government ruling under Turkey's secular constitution. The paper speaks of unfounded fines imposed because the honourable members of the RTUK panel have ruled that sexy dancing is an act of evil .

The fined videos are: Tek Basina Dans (dancing alone) by Teoman, Beni Seviyor (loves me) by Berkan, Geri Donus Olsa (if you should come back) by Murat Boz, Merhaba Merhaba (hi there) by Murat Dalkilic, Saat Uc (3 o'clock) by Bengu and Bize Yeter (enough for us) by Ziynet Sali.


23rd January   

A Trojan Clothes Horse for Western Influence...

Iranian police shut down toy shops selling Barbie dolls
Link Here

Teheran police last week told toy shops that the Barbie doll can no longer be sold and as a result some of Tehran's large toy stores have started removing them from shelve.

The police wasted little time and shut down dozens of toy shops in Teheran offering Barbie dolls for selling manifestations of Western culture, the Mehr news agency reported.

The move comes as clerics and conservative quarters in Iran have stepped up their criticism of Western culture. The Gerdab website argued last week that playing with the impossibly busty and long-legged Barbie triggers a psychological change in children and increases the influence of values that go against the values of Iranian-Islamic culture.

In the mid 1990s, Iranian clerics called the full-figured, glamorous Barbie doll, not to mention her clingy gowns, skimpy swimsuits and her more lately acquired feminist pretentions, a Trojan clothes horse for Western influences into the Islamic republic.

In 2002, the influential Institute for the Development of Children and Young Adults institute attempted to offset the popularity of Barbie and her life partner Ken with an Iranian version called Dara and Sara. The modestly dressed brother and sister were aimed at promoting traditional Islamic values. But it soon became clear that the dumpy Iranian dolls could not capture the hearts of Iran's children.

Several months ago a conservative website criticized the Iranian authorities for not doing enough to stop the use of Barbie's image on such children's items as schoolbags, stationery, clothes and watches. The website claimed that the doll is taking over the souls of the youngsters and that the authorities need to collaborate with local manufacturers to encourage the use of Iranian and Islamic characters instead of Barbie.


21st January   

Update: Ofcom Censors Iranian Propaganda TV...

UK TV censor revokes licence from Press TV citing lack of UK editorial control
Link Here
Full story: Press TV...Political censoship merges with TV censorship

Ofcom has revoked the licence for Press TV to broadcast to the UK.

Ofcom cites The Communications Act 2003. Under section 362(2) of the Act, the provider of the service for the purposes of holding a licence is the person with general control over which programmes are comprised in the service.

Ofcom explained:

In the course of correspondence and meetings with Ofcom, statements made by Press TV Limited about the operation of the Licensed Service failed to satisfy Ofcom that the Licensee had general control over which programmes and other services were comprised in the Licensed Service. Ofcom therefore concluded that Press TV Limited had ceased to provide the Licensed Service in accordance with section 362(2) of the Act and that, accordingly, it was appropriate to revoke the Licence.

The Licence was revoked on 20 January 2012.


20th January   

Up the Revolution...

Egypt bans TV programme that has opposed the revolutionary government
Link Here

A Cairo court has banned a television program that has been attacking Egypt's pro-democracy revolutionaries. The television program is hosted by Tawfiq Okasha, an Egyptian Presidential candidate for the Egypt National Party.

According to Egypt Independent, the General Authority for Investment and Nile Sat authorities should stop the broadcasting of a program titled Misr al-Youm, which is aired by Al-Faraeen private channel and presented by Tawfiq Okasha, the channel's president.


19th January   

Update: Dangerous Websites...

Iran confirms death sentence for webmasters
Link Here
Full story: Internet Death Sentence...Iran goes extreme over website censorship

Ahmad Reza Hashempour was arrested in 2007. A lower court had sentenced him to death, and the Supreme Court this week upheld Hashempour's death sentence on charges of membership in anti-religion and blasphemous websites.

During his four-year detention, Ahmad Reza Hashemour spent a long time in solitary where he was physically and psychologically tortured to make television confessions against himself.

This is the latest injustice in the Mozelleen 3 case. Many of the suspects in this case were forced to make television confessions against themselves and to accept the charges leveled against them. Several individuals implicated in this case released open letters several months after their arrests, speaking up about unbearable torture during their detention period. Another suspect in this case, Vahid Asghari, was also sentenced to death this week, after four years in prison.

Update: Death sentence confirmed for Canadian website programmer

19th January 2012. See  article from

Website programmer Saeed Malekpour's death sentence for developing and promoting porn sites has been upheld by Iran's supreme court. The Iranian-born Canadian resident now faces imminent execution despite a reprieve last June when the sentence was suspended and set for judicial review after his defense lawyers introduced expert evidence amidst an international outcry for justice.

He appeared on state television confessing to a series of crimes detailing his involvement with porn sites that led to his conviction. But in a letter from his prison cell, the programmer ultimately retracted his confessions and claimed he made the statements under duress that included physical and psychological torture and threats against his family.

Malekpour wrote:

Once, in October 2008, the interrogators stripped me while I was blindfolded and threatened to rape me with a bottle of water. While I remained blindfolded and handcuffed, several individuals armed with cables, batons, and their fists struck and punched me. At times, they would flog my head and neck.

Such mistreatment was aimed at forcing me to write what the interrogators were dictating, and to compel me to play a role in front of the camera based on their scenarios.

Saeed's lawyers were told that his death sentence will be issued this week.


18th January   

Update: Dubai is Damned Dangerous...

British engineer sentenced to jail for saying 'damned mosques' in exasperation at slow building process
Link Here

A British engineer is facing a month in jail after he told colleagues in a meeting, When will we finish with the damn mosques?

The worker, who has not been named, told an appeals court that he did not mean to insult the Islamic religion.

The British engineer works at the parks and recreation section of Abu Dhabi Municipality, and is appealing against a one-month prison sentence imposed by the Court of Misdemeanours. The slow completion of a Mosque in Abu Dhabi caused the British engineer to make the statement that has landed him in court and facing jail.

The engineer told the court he lost his temper during a meeting because the project he was leading was progressing slowly.

He was then reported to the police by his work 'colleagues' for asking the offending question.

A decision on the appeal will be announced on 7th February

Update: Failed Appeal

8th February 2012.  See  article from  

A British engineer has lost his appeal for insulting Islam after he used a derogatory word to ask co-workers when they would be finished building mosques in Abu Dhabi. Abu Dhabi Appeal Court ruled that the one-month jail sentence would stand. The engineer, who was working for the parks and recreations section of Abu Dhabi Municipality, had said he merely made the comment during the meeting as he was keen to finish designing a mosque garden.

The court heard he loudly asked colleagues the question, inserting a blasphemous word before saying mosque . One of his colleagues then complained to police. The man had previously told the lower court that he did not intend to insult Muslims and was merely emphasising his words to show how keen he was to finish the project. He added that he respected the UAE and Islam and never intended to show disrespect to the mosque on which he was working.

He was appealing the one-month sentence imposed by the Abu Dhabi Court of Misdemeanours.


9th January   

Updated: Life in the Slow Lane...

Iran set to turn off internet access to the outside world
Link Here
Full story: Iranian Internet Censorship...Extensive internet blocking

A member of Iran's Corporate Computer Systems reports that Iran will be cut off from the World Wide Web once the country launches its own national internet network next month.

Iranian media report that Payam Karbasi, the spokesman for Corporate Computer Systems of Iran, said: With the launch of the national internet, the internet providers can increase the speed of access to their desired websites by two megabytes... however, it will be just like a corporate network, which cannot be accessed by outsiders, and some material cannot be accessed through that network.

The national internet network will allow service providers to decide which sites the users can be accessed speedily, which sites will be provided at the lowest speed, and of course which sites will be totally blocked.

In the past two weeks, Iranian internet users have reported an extreme reduction in internet speed. While access to government sites remains easy, using proxies to access blocked sites only via the slow lane.

Karbasi said: Imagine there is a monitoring system that checks all the internet packages and then allows it to pass through or regards it unclean. Because of the high volume of internet packages, they remain in a line-up in order to be checked, and this causes the reduction in the speed of access.

With the launch of the so-called clean internet network, Iranian authorities aim to separate Iran from the World Wide Web in order to block access to supposedly immoral content and maintain control of what Iranian users can access.

Update: Spy in the Caf

9th January 2012.  See  article from

Iran's cyberpolice have issued new restrictions for Internet cafes that appear to be part of the Iranian establishment's efforts to impose further controls on the Internet.

According to the new rules, the personal information of citizens visiting cybercafes, such as their name, father's name, national ID number, and telephone number, will be registered. Cafe owners will be required to keep the personal and contact information of their clients and also a record of their browsing history for six months.

Another new rule that has been announced requires cybercafe owners to install closed-circuit cameras and keep the video recordings for six months. The guidelines also say that installing circumvention tools that allow access to banned websites will be illegal at Internet cafes.

Deputy cyberpolice chief Mohsen Mirbehresi has said that owners of Internet cafes should deny Internet access to those who do not show their IDs. Internet cafes have 15 days to implement the restrictions, which were announced on January 3.


3rd January   

Tattoo Taboo...

Girl with the Dragon Tattoo banned in UAE
Link Here
Full story: Girl With the Dragon Tattoo...Banned and cut around the world

The new film The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo has been very well received by the critics, but will not be screened in the UAE because the film makers have refused to accept the eight cuts suggested by the censors.

Unfortunately, we weren't allowed to make the cuts that were necessary for it to be screened. The filmmakers wouldn't allow it Piroska Szakacs from Empire International told The National.


2nd January   

Update: Believe or Else!...

Turkey to prosecute man for denying that the universe was created by a god
Link Here
Full story: Blasphemy in Turkey...Blasphemy repressing Turkish people

A Turkish court has accepted an indictment filed against a man who allegedly insulted Islamic values online.

The lawsuit was filed against AMS. over his remarks allegedly insulting Islamic beliefs on Eksi Sozluk (Sour Times) , a website on which contributors share their comments on various issues and incidents in Turkey.

Prosecutor Altinok, who says the suspect went beyond the limits of freedom of speech by ridiculing Muslim prayer rituals and the Islamic belief that the universe was created by God, seeks up to one-and-a-half years in jail for AMS.

AMS said in his testimony that he did not intend to commit a crime nor to target a group or individual with his comments.

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