Friday, May 28, 2010

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From Censorship to Absurdity..

When Martin Luther said “Reason is the enemy of faith” he should’ve added: “…and for the Arab world it’s freedom of expression”. Religions have always been demoting free-speech and in some regions, under a theocratic regime, freedom of speech is barely existent. Islamic governments are the best example of suppressive ruling. When your civil laws and regulations are based on the oppressive “Sharia” law, censorship comes with the package.
The stories you hear every day about cases of limiting freedoms, become absurd when you consider the fact that the mentality behind such limitations is being based on bylaws written thousands of years ago. I would like to mention a number of incidents that happened this week alone.
I will not go, however, into the “Draw Muhammad Day” issue because, personally, I believe this matter was dragged a long way off its originally intended message: advocating free-speech. Anyway, here is a 7-day sample of the censorship and oppression going on in the Muslim world

A Case of Double Restriction

Mohammed Abdel Qader Al-Jassem, a leading journalist from Kuwait was sentenced to 6 months in jail for saying in public that the country’s Prime Minister should resign because he is unable to run the country. Even more, journalists were banned from entering the court room and covering the event during his trial last Monday. It wasn’t enough that a journalist was being charged for having an opinion, other journalists were denied the right to tell the world about his hearing.

TEH Evil Blackberry! Evil Devil Blackberry

Again in Kuwait, the Ministry of Interior is planning to ban all Blackberry services in the country because “users of BlackBerry sets were taking advantage to spread rumors and call for strikes.” as reported by a local newspaper. The ban is not final yet but a decision will be made in the next couple days.


Back to the Dark Ages?

While in Kuwait the ban on BB services is being considered, in Pakistan it is a done deal; along with 1000 other websites including Facebook, Youtube, Flickr and Twitter. I read a funny story today, related to this issue, about the Pakistani Minister of Interior who was forced to start using Twitter because he could no longer access his personal page on Facebook after the ban. But now even Twitter is no longer accessible so hard luck Mr. Minister; why don’t you try Blogger? Oh I forget, it is blocked as well.

What’s the Point of a SECRET if not to Remain a Secret?

Last Tuesday, a book titled “Belgrave’s Diary”, published in Lebanon, was banned from entering Bahrain and copies already brought in were confiscated by the government. There are two main reasons behind this censorship, as reported by IFEX. First, because it criticized the ruling authority at the time this Diary was written. Second, because it conveys secrets about “distribution of wealth, land appropriation and sectarian discrimination”. That is not so bad, in my opinion. I’m sure they only did it to protect Mr. Belgrave’s privacy; I mean no one appreciates his personal Diary being read by the public, right?

Love the Song, Hate the Singer!

Elton John Portrait Yesterday, Elton John performed during a free concert in Morocco. The Muslim community was outraged by this gig because of this pop star’s sexual orientation and his public openness about it and could not believe how this event was allowed into their Kingdom and even supported by King Mohammed VI himself. The good thing, though, is that their rage did not turn into violence and the concert went on as planned. In Egypt, however, this same concert was banned from taking place in the country; this time the government expressed clearly its position on homosexuality.

The Finale!!

The oppression of Women has always been the favorite for all religions, but it seems Islamic Fundamentalism loves it the most. Yesterday, I read an article on Arab News, too absurd to be true. In the Indonesian district of Aceh, run by Islamic extremists, who prohibited all shops in the area from selling tight pants/dresses to Muslim women and outlawed the wearing of revealing clothes. They also distributed long skirts to the authorities and ordered them to catch any women whom they believe is wearing “inappropriate” clothing and to compel them to wear one of these skirts. On Thursday, 18 women were caught wearing JEANS while riding on motorbikes, and were ordered to wear the long skirts. One of them was a 40-year-old lady, she claimed that the only reason she wore jeans is because they are more comfortable when riding a bike. She also reported "I am not wearing sexy outfits, but they caught me like a terrorist only because of my jeans,"
Such ridiculous events are not a novelty in the Arab region. I wrote an article, here, on a similar story regarding Emo dress-code in Lebanon.


As long as religious fanaticism is given the authority to rule the people, similar stories will continue on happening. Some people might not see the dangers of such events, but when Sharia law is the only authority in control, oppression against women can, and have become, a brutality in many cases. The graphical poem by Nessrriinn, in the video below, is a very emotional one. I wouldn’t recommend it to the faint-hearted. This breathtaking visual poem depicts the sad reality of some of the men and women living under such barbaric regimes. Watch it till the end..


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