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Middle East Censorship News

2015 Jan-March

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Offsite Article: Artists against Erdogan's censorship...

Link Here30th March 2015
Turkish artists feel oppressed by the government. Beyond censorship and commercial speculation, an alternative art scene offers some hope. By Ceyda Nurtsch.

See article from



Offsite Article: Internet in Iran...

Link Here26th March 2015
Full story: Iranian Internet Censorship...Extensive internet blocking
Evaluating Rouhani's First Two Years as President

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Update: Shared Prosecutions...

More internet censorship is Turkey where people sharing censored material will be prosecuted

Link Here25th March 2015
Social media users who share content that has been subject to a legal complaint in Turkey will be punished, according an omnibus bill currently being debated in parliament.

Internet censors at the Telecommunications Directorate (TÝB) will be able to decide for the removal or blocking of Internet content based on vague claims about "protection of national security and public order" in the omnibus bill, and users who then share such content will also be punished.

On March 20, parliament approved a key article of the contentious omnibus bill that gives power to the prime minister and other ministers to shut down websites within four hours. The approval came just six months after a similar bill was overturned by the Constitutional Court.

The TÝB could enforce the ministry's request as a blanket ban of the website if deemed necessary, within a maximum four hours. The TÝB would then submit the decision to the judge of a criminal court of peace within 24 hours for approval. The judge would have to issue a ruling within 48 hours. If no verdict is issued, the ban would automatically be revoked.

According to the law, the TÝB could also file criminal complaints by applying to prosecutors regarding the content of the website. ISPs or web hosts would be required to submit the necessary information to help locate those being censored through a court order. Providers that do not identify censored account holders could be given hefty fines Authorities would also be able to revoke their provider licenses in Turkey.



Extract: Call SuperLawyer...

Author of comic book featuring muslim superheroes targetted by a private blasphemy prosecution in Kuwait

Link Here16th March 2015
Drawing on the strong-men and -women archetypes in the Marvel and DC universes, and now in their 10th year, Naif Al-Mutawa's comic books have their own fleet of superheroes: an all-Islamic cast gifted with special powers embodying the 99 attributes of Allah as named in the Koran.

Launched in 2006, first in Kuwait after the approval of the state's Ministry of Information, then in America and the rest of the world, The 99 was hailed as an exemplary model of inter-faith peace and tolerance by Barack Obama.

While the Kuwaiti government has endorsed his work, not everyone agrees with its message. In the past year, a Twitter campaign has accused him of being a blasphemer who should be brought to trial; and a legal case has been launched against him, not by the state, but by a fellow Kuwaiti suing him for heresy.

Since then, Al-Mutawa has received a hail of abuse and death threats. culminating in an ironic sequence of events:

Shortly before New Year 2014, I received an email informing me that The 99 had won in the media category of the Islamic Economy Awards [in Dubai]. A few days later, I received an email from my lawyer updating me on the case lodged against me in Kuwait for heresy and insulting religion through The 99. This is the same book President Obama, Sheikh Mohammed, even His Highness the Emir of Kuwait, publicly endorsed as being a bastion of tolerance.

He was particularly shaken by the chilling Twitter hashtag, #whowillkillDrNaif, that drummed up hate against him last summer. He is frustrated to be summoned to court on 26 March not least because the prosecution managed to secure a fatwa from the Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia, who called his work evil .

...Read the full article



Exploring the Depths of Censorship...

Turkey bizarrely seeks to ban the video game Minecraft for supposedly being too violent

Link Here14th March 2015
Minecraft is an independently developed video game that allows users to explore a chunky three-dimensional world, mining for resources and constructing various structures out of little blocks.

This week Turkey's Family and Social Policies Ministry bizarrely decided that Minecraft should be banned.

Lats month Aysenur Islam, Turkey's family and censorship policies minister, ordered an investigation into Minecraft after being told by a journalist that players get points for killing other characters, including women. The investigation subsequently concluded that the game does indeed encourage violence in children.

In the report sent to the ministry's legal department, it was noted that the game allowed users to build homes and bridges but that mobs had to be killed to protect these structures. In short, it is a game based on violence, the report noted. Minecraft may also mislead children into thinking animals don't feel pain, the report found, or lead to social isolation or online bullying.

Andrew Przybylski, an experimental psychologist eloquently summed up Turkey's censorship stance:

Investigating Minecraft for being violent is the equivalent of ordering an investigation into violent Lego playing.



Cuts for 12, Cuts for 15 and Cuts for 18...

Egypt film censors to introduce a system to classify their cuts according to age

Link Here17th February 2015
Plans to introduce a rating system for movies in the Egyptian cinemas would partly reduced the need for cuts but nudity and explicitly sexual scenes would still be cut out, according to the head of Egypt's state Censorship Bureau. Abd El Sattar Fathy said:

Of course, if it is a scene of explicit sex it will be removed. Images of male and female genitalia as well as nudity scenes will also be removed, he added.

Any movie that is clearly promoting pornography, homosexuality or that is damaging Egypt's relations with some specific countries will still be rejected.

The new measure would not prevent deleting scenes of atheism or that incite sectarian strife.

Fathy said that Egypt would be implementing a rating system that classifies films into three age categories, 12, 15 and 18.

He also said that the board seeks to implement the classification as soon as possible but that training on this could take two months.



In the Face of Threats...

Facebook censors images of Mohammed in Turkey

Link Here29th January 2015
Facebook has agreed to censor pages showing images of the religious character Mohammed in Turkey despite Mark Zuckerberg giving his support to freedom of speech proclaiming Je Suis Charlie .

A court in the Turkish capital, Ankara, ruled that several Facebook pages were deemed to be insulting the Prophet Mohammed and Facebook agreed to block access on January 25. The court had threatened that if the ruling was not adhered to, Facebook access would be wholly removed in the country.

The company's decision comes after Mark Zuckerberg said on Facebook that the site followed the laws of the country but we never let one country or group of people dictate what people can share across the world . The billionaire added:

I'm committed to building a service where you can speak freely without fear or violence... #JeSuisCharlie. Related Articles



Defective TV censors...

Turkish TV censor fines TV company for airing lesbian themed music video

Link Here19th January 2015
Turkey's TV censor has issued fines to two TV music channels for broadcasting videos that showed sexuality scenes, including one that featured a lesbian kiss.

The Supreme Board of Radio and Television (RTUK) fined Genk TV for airing Elliphant's 2014 One More music video.

The also whinged at Power TV for singer Pitbull's music video for Don't Stop the Party , for scenes of of passionate fondling of a woman's half naked body, as well as footage and gestures similar to pornography .

In justifying the fines, RTUK cited the bigoted remarks on homosexuality made by Cem Kece's, head of the Turkish Sexual Health Institute. Kece claims that homosexuality is a a defect and against human nature, and the result of parenting mistakes.

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