Posts Tagged ‘Free Speech’
I have just had an unpleasant visit from the Police.
Apparently it follows a “complaint” from Ipswich-based Islamists, Jimas.
The details of the complaint were not given.
But they apparently centre on this Blog, posts on this organisation (notably a dossier sent to me by somebody close to Harry’s Place) and, it is claimed “E-Mails.”
What they are specifically I do not know.
It all took place, believe or not, well over a year ago, when and what, they did not see fit to elaborate much upon.
But is was claimed that I had a met a leading member of Jimas – completely untrue – to discuss matters.
It was also said that E-Mails from somebody calling themselves The Usual Suspects, were at issue.
I am not the “Usual Suspects” and it is a slander to suggest that I am.
Equally I repeat: I have never met anybody from Jimas.
As for the political attacks on Jimas (and other Islamists) on the Blog Tendance Coatesy, I wonder if it is the business of Suffolk police to act on these matters.
One could say that this is a case of political intervention way beyond their remit.
As for Jimas, well, rest assured that your attempts to ‘get’ me are not appreciated.
Particularly the claim – wholly made-up – that I ‘met’ with them.
As this Blog has an international readership I wonder what people in other countries think of this.
Critics of Religion Like Alber Saber Face Uncertain Future as Egyptian Islamist Constitution Passes.
Saber and Other Critics Face Uncertain Future Under Islamist Constitution.
The Islamist Egyptian constitution has been voted in with what is reported over 65% of the vote, on an extremely low turnout of around 30%.
The country’s opposition says that it has no legitimacy.
Apart from accusations of fraud, there is clearly not the kind of overwhelming popular mandate needed for a framework for law and politics.
There are many reasons to oppose the Constitution, not least the record of the ruling Muslim Brotherhood.
One area which will attract attention is its repression of critics of religion.
The case Alber Ayad was highlighted in yesterday’s Le Monde (it has received scant attention in the liberal British press).
Introduction from Wikipedia (slightly modified)
Alber Saber Ayad (also Albert) is an Egyptian blogger arrested on 13 September 2012 on allegations of having shared the YouTube trailer for the anti-Islam film Innocence of Muslims on his Facebook page.
On 12 September, Alber Saber’s home was surrounded by a crowd calling for his death for heresy and atheism. The crowd attempted to break down the door, and also threatened to burn down the house. Saber’s mother called the police for protection, and Saber was arrested by them the following day. Saber later stated that a police officer incited other prisoners to attack him in detention; he was beaten and cut on the neck with a razor.
Police confiscated Saber’s computer, but found no evidence that he had uploaded the video in question. Instead, Saber was charged with “defamation of Islam and Christianity, insulting the divine and satirizing religious rituals and sanctities and the prophets under articles 98, 160 and 161 of the Egyptian Penal Code“, with a maximum sentence of six years’ imprisonment.The prosecution stated that Saber had “promoted his extremist thoughts in speech and writings by creating web pages, including [the] ‘Crazy dictator’ and ‘Egyptian atheists’.
Le Monde says that Saber was originally extremely pious. He then turned to an interest in politics and the liberal opposition to the Mubarak regime. During the 2011 anti- protests he became more and more radical, attracting the attention of the security services. He created a Facebook Page. This became a forum for the handful of anarchists and atheists who shared his ideas (“d’anarchistes et d’athées se reconnaissant dans ses idées). Saber says, God is not another Dictator (Dieu n’est qu’un dictateur de plus). He spoke about Darwin and the historical inconsistencies in religious texts.
Saber says himself, interviewed by Egypt Independent,
This goes way back. In 2008, I joined the April 6 Youth Movement and participated with them in several demonstrations against government corruption at the time, in addition to joining the Youth for Freedom and Justice Movement and [Mohamed] ElBaradei Youth Movement. That is why I was arrested on 26 January 2011.
I was then among those who met with the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces when we were on a hunger strike to demand the prosecution of [former President Hosni] Mubarak and the dismissal of the prosecutor general.
On 25 January 2012, state security officers stormed my house in my absence, took my computer and conducted a search. From that moment on, security officers have wanted to get rid of people like me.
With the rise of the religious right in the aftermath of the revolution, Saber says,
I quit political work and began criticizing the situation of Egypt from the inside, especially after the widespread emergence of Islamist currents after the January revolution, and with the difficulty of convincing members of these groups not to mix religion with politics. I decided to make videos discussing the differences between religions, until the issue of the film ["Innocence of Muslims"] insulting the Prophet came up.
AMAY: Did you post the film insulting the Prophet on social networking sites?
AS: I did not do that because I believe in the freedom of opinion and belief. There is no evidence on my accounts on either Facebook or Twitter that I ever posted the film.
Saber says he has never insulted the ‘taboo’ of religion as such. Specifically, he denies ever having shared the trailer for the Innocence of Muslims.
On 12 December 2012, Saber was found guilty and sentenced to three years’ imprisonment. He was allowed to appeal if he first paid $167 bail. Though the bail was paid, police returned him to prison.
He was finally released on bail, pending an appeal.
Those who try to ‘understand’ Muslim anger’ at the Innocence of Muslims will now see how an Islamist dominated state deals with those incur its wrath.
Le Monde states, that in the new
Constitution, rédigé par les islamistes et soumis à référendum samedi 22 décembre, “l’insulte aux prophètes” est strictement prohibée. Et Albert risquera une peine beaucoup plus lourde .
In the new Constitution, written by the Islamists, and subject to a referendum on Saturday the 22nd of December, “insulting the prophets” is forbidden. Albert risks facing an even heavier penalty.
FaceBook Page Free Alber Saber!
Joseph Anton. A Memoir. Salman Rushdie. Jonathan Cape. 2012.
In early September demonstrations against the video The Innocence of Muslims, took place across the world. Wednesday the 19th of the month saw the French leftist satirical weekly, Charlie Hebdo published, to more protests, caricatures of Mohammed.
Two days later, Tahar Ben Jelloun argued, in Le Monde (21.9.12) against any concessions to Islamist inspired rage. He began by asking why Islam seemed so fragile that fiction, cartoons, or a bad film, His answer was the some Moslem countries encouraged this reaction to stave off creating states based on individual rights. Salman Rushdie’s Satanic Verses was the template for this strategy. It been used by the Iranian regime to quash any criticism of Islam, and to cement an “appartence absolue à la communité” (absolute adhesion to the community). Jelloun had no time for the provocations of Charlie. Yet he recommended ignoring them, and turning to the transcendental spirit of Islam.
Tareq Oubrou, the Rector of the Bordeaux Mosque, wrote on the same Le Monde Débats page, even more clearly against those who wished to suppress ‘blasphemy’. “La liberté de conscience et d’expression est un aquis occidental incontesté et incontenstable. Une avancée et un progrès philosophical-moral réels de notre humanité.” – Freedom of speech and conscience are established, unchallenged, and indisputable facts in the West. This is a step forward and real moral and philosophical progress for humanity”. Oubrou did not just repeat the standard argument (even sued by some Islamists, in the absence of a state ruled by the Sharia) that Muslims should submit to French law. All criticism of writing and art should be within their own terms, “La critique d’art se fait par l’art, la philosophie par la philosophie, and les idées par les idées.”
On the publication of Salman Rushdie’s Joseph Anton, at the end that Month Le Monde put the author on the front page followed by a long, respectful, article/interview. It dealt with Rushdie’s criticisms of “Actually Existing Islam” as well as the Satanic Verses and the Khomeini Fatwa that has marked his life.
The present work does not neglect this political-religious theme, “During the worst excesses of Soviet Communism…Western Marxists had tried to distance ‘actually existing Socialism’ from the True Faith, Karl Marx’s vision of equality and justice.” Now, with Communism’s faults there for all to see, “it was no longer possible to believe in a True Faith untainted by the crimes of the real world.” Yet, “as Islamic states forged new tyrannies, and justified many horrors in the name of God, a similar separation was being made by Muslims; so there was the ‘actually existing Islam’ of the bloody theocracies and there was the True Faith of peace and love.” (Page 356) The crisis is profound, and cannot be wished away by this appeal, Rushdie says, “something was eating away at the faith of his grandfather, corroding or corrupting it, making it an ideology of narrowness and intolerance, banning books, persecuting thinkers, erecting absolutions, turning dogma with which to beat the undogmatic. That thing needed to be fought and to fight it one had to name it and the only name that fitted was Islam.”(Pages 356-7) Read the rest of this entry »
In the light of the terrible deaths today (BBC), which could be foreseen, what is the justification behind Charlie Hebdo’s publication of the caricatures of Mohammed? Are they making a wider point than that – highly dubious – one made by the producers of the Innocence of Muslims?
Le Monde today asked Charlie Hebdo’s editorial team:
Should one continue to poke fun at the Muslim religion?
Pour l’hebdomadaire satirique, la réponse est oui, sans hésitation. “Il faut continuer jusqu’à ce que l’islam soit aussi banalisé que le catholicisme”, assène Charb avec l’assurance d’un prédicateur. “Nous avons brisé les deux tabous que sont Eros et Thanatos, mais il reste celui des religions“, affirme le dessinateur Luz. “Si on dit aux religions: “Vous êtes intouchables”, on est foutus”, renchérit Gérard Biard, rédacteur en chef.
For the satirical weekly, the answer is, without hesitation, yes “We must continue until Islam is made as trivial and commonplace as Catholicism” said Charb, stridently, with all the self-confidence of a preacher. The illustrator Luz asserted that, “We’ve broken two taboos, Eros and Thantos, the taboo of religion remains.” Gérard Biard, Copy Chief, went further, “If we say about religions, ‘Nobody can touch you’, we’re completely fucked.”
S’il est un sujet qui cimente la rédaction, c’est bien celui de l’anticléricalisme. “L’attaque contre toutes les religions, c’est ce qui constitue notre identité, constate Gérard Biard. La rédaction comprend des anarchistes, des écolos, des communistes, des trotskystes, des socialos. Mais on est tous d’accord sur le fait religieux. Et je pense que nous sommes tous athées.”
If there is one subject that binds together the editorial team, it’s anti-clericalism. “Our identity is built around attacking religion, all religions” notes Gérard Biard, “The team is made up of anarchists, ecologists, communists, Trotskyists and Socialists. But we’re still all in agreement about religion as it exists. And I think we’re all atheists.”
Bring Libel Charges Against Innocence of Muslims!
It was about the protests against the Innocence of Muslims.
I do not have the link but wrote down his response to the general issue of ‘what should be done’.
Rees argued that the West, and America in particular, should withdraw its military forces from Afghanistan and Iraq.
That there should be no further use of Western power in the region.
This would meet the agreement of many on the left, although it fails to meet the demands of those who wish to see the film banned and its authors punished.
Pressed about what the USA should do about the amateur film, the Innocence of Muslims, Rees made the following suggestion: that America should look way ways of prosecuting the producers for libel and for inciting race hatred.
Some unkind people may consider that, put in a corner and not having any clear idea about what to say, Rees was flailing around and grabbed at the first ideas that came into his head.
This is an excellent suggestion.
The problem of the absence of the plaintiff for the legal process can be easily solved.
A committee of Qur’anic religious scholars, with Rees’s help, could decide on the merits of the case.
This body could then oversee all material dealing with the tricky matter of the Muslim religion, whether it should be published or broadcast, and what kind of penalty those who overstepped the line should face.
This could be the model for much-needed changes in the US legal system, replacing the First Amendment guaranteeing freedom of expression with a more appropriate and anti-imperialist one.
With this timely intervention we can see why the Stop the War Coalition has been able to mobilise so many behind its campaigns.