Broadcasters in the United States and Britain say the Iranian government has been jamming international satellite transmissions into the country.
Television programs by VOA's Persian News Network and a number of radio broadcasts by U.S.-supported news organizations have been affected by the Iranian jamming. The interference has been aimed at a communications satellite system used by many
Iranian authorities have not responded to inquiries by the Broadcasting Board of Governors, the agency that oversees all U.S. government-supported civilian international broadcasting, including VOA.
However, engineers who regularly monitor satellite communications say Iran apparently is the source of the signal interference, which has blanketed a satellite system known as Hot Bird.
A BBG statement said its experts have determined that Iranian government jamming has been in effect at least since December 27. In addition to VOA's Persian network, the jamming has affected programs by Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty's Radio Farda
and Radio Sawa, a U.S.-supported Arabic-language radio.
The BBG condemned the jamming and called it censorship aimed at interrupting the free flow of objective news and information to the Iranian people.
The BBC first reported last week that it had encountered jamming aimed at its Persian-language radio and television programs.
The judiciary commission of the Iranian parliament has threatened providers of dating websites in the Islamic state with of harsh penalties, Fars news agency reported.
The commission's spokesman, Farhad Tajari, said that those running such websites should know that they were committing a crime and could face legal action and harsh penalties. Tajari called on all relevant organizations and ministries to harshly
confront what he called illegal and immoral websites. He added that especially the Telecommunications Ministry should cooperate to identify such websites.
Due to religious repression, there are no opportunities for young single women and men to meet in public or at parties. Offenders might get temporarily arrested by vice police and have to pay at least a cash fine. The internet has therefore become a
suitable alternative for young Iranians to either flirt or even plan a serious relationship.
Social networking websites such as Facebook have become quite popular in Iran although they are filtered and the Iranian users have to use proxy servers to get access to such sites.
Reporters Without Borders have criticized moves by the Iranian authorities to censor national and international media ahead of the burial of leading dissident cleric, Grand Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri.
While Iran mourns, the authorities are again censoring the media, including the print media, the BBC and the Internet, said the Paris-based press freedom watchdog.
Montazeri was regarded as the spiritual patron of the pro-reform opposition movement, which blossomed after June's disputed presidential election.
According to opposition websites, hundreds of thousands of mourners were said to have poured onto the streets of Qom yesterday, many chanting slogans against the government. Clashes reportedly broke out between mourners and police after the funeral,
but due to a ban on foreign media, the scale of the confrontation is not clear.
Immediately after the announcement of Montazeri's death, Internet connections slowed down in many cities, while telephone communication was disrupted, said Reporters Without Borders.
Journalists were arrested during demonstrations in homage to Montazeri, the press group said, adding that the Ministry of Islamic Culture and Guidance issued a directive banning newspaper editors from publishing articles about Montazeri.
The BBC said fresh attempts had been made to jam its Persian television service to Iran. A program about Montazeri that the BBC was airing included an exclusive interview he gave to the British broadcaster, shortly before his death.
The Sunday Times was barred from news stands in Dubai this week because of a graphic showing the emirate's ruler sinking in a sea of debt, which a media body judged to be an insult.
The Sunday Times was not distributed today, an official from the United Arab Emirates national media council told AFP. We cannot accept a personal insult. It is against our traditions, he said.
There is no ban on the newspaper despite the holding back of the latest edition, he said, adding that all other international publications which have criticised Dubai since news broke of its debt crisis were on sale as usual.
The Sunday Times' business section included a report headlined The sinking of Dubai's dream.
The two-page spread featured a photo montage of the emir, Sheikh Mohammad bin Rashed al-Maktoum, floundering in what it described as a sea of debt off the coastline of the city state. The montage also featured Dubai's iconic Burj al-Arab hotel
sinking into the sea.
It began with a caricature of Dubai's ruler, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum, floundering in a sea of debt. The Sunday Times was duly banned from sale in the once-gilded emirate.
A few days later, Jim McLean wrote an article in its sister publication, the Times, headed: Confidence will never return in Dubai. As the headline suggests, it was highly critical. The article said Dubai World's failure to honour its
obligations had shaken the international investment community's faith in Sheikh Mohammed. The international financial community, and I know this to be the case in London, won't do business with Dubai again, one expert on Gulf economics was quoted
Experienced analysts no longer trust the government's statistics, claiming they do not fully reflect the amount Dubai owes its foreign creditors, McLean continued, adding: Sheikh Mohammed cast himself as Dubai's chief executive, and if this
were a company he would be on his way.
This article was blanked out on the orders of the censors in copies of the Times available in Dubai. Local papers have also had problems covering the emirate's financial crisis.
The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns Iranian authorities' decision to shut the reformist daily Hayate No . The Press Supervisory Board revoked the license of the Tehran-based daily Hayate No for working outside the
regulations, according to local news reports, but the agency provided no details of the alleged violations.
Hayate No is considered supportive of defeated presidential candidate Mir-Hossein Mousavi. Its closing came the same day that thousands of Mousavi supporters demonstrated on university campuses in Tehran and nationwide.
It can be no coincidence that on the day student protesters take to the streets, the government muzzles yet another reformist newspaper, said CPJ Deputy Director Robert Mahoney. Since the disputed presidential election in June, journalists
have been censored, harassed and imprisoned. Iran now holds the dubious distinction of being second only to China as a jailer of journalists.
A Palestinian has dragged British funnyman Sacha Baron Cohen to court claiming 70 million pounds in a libel suit over his portrayal in the flick Bruno .
A scene in Bruno shows Cohen's character claiming to have travelled to the Ein El-Hilweh refugee camp in Lebanon to meet a leader of the Al-Aqsa Brigades. A caption labels Abu Aita as Terrorist group leader, Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade .
Ayman Abu Aita, a grocer and activist from Bethlehem says the movie has destroyed his life. He claims that his life has been threatened since the movie's release and adds that he does not support terrorism, reports the Telegraph.
Aita says he met Cohen believing he was a German making a film about the Palestinian cause.
Turkey's Internet Technologies Association, or INETD, has applied to the European Court of Human Rights seeking the annulment of a ban imposed on access to a popular video-sharing site.
Access to YouTube has been banned in Turkey since May 5, 2008, after complaints were made about video clips insulting Mustafa Kemal Atatrk, the founder of modern Turkey.
INETD President Mustafa Akgl said the group's suit was filed in the name of the public and all those who have suffered as a result of the ban. Turkey is literally waging war on the Internet, said Akgl, adding that the ban on
YouTube is in violation of the Constitution and various articles of the European Human Rights Convention.
INETD had exhausted the entire domestic appeal process without any result and was thus forced to apply to the European court last week, the group's president said.
The main aspect of the lawsuit is based on Article 10 of the European convention regarding freedom of expression. The association said that while it is possible to filter and block certain video clips on the Web site, a blanket ban on an international
sharing platform is a disproportionate curtailment of freedom of expression.
The ban was issued without any trial and, instead of being a short-term ban, has been in force for more than a year now. There was no attempt to seek an explanation either, Akgl said, calling the ban a legal disaster.
Three Egyptian Human Rights Organizations stated that the Court ruling of imposing a fine on Metro's author and publisher and confiscating the novel is a step backwards to the freedom of expression, and this decision will be appealed to assert
The Misdemeanor Court of Qasr El Nile has ruled that the author, Magdi El Shafai , and the publisher , Mohamed El Sahrqawi , of the novel Metro , each should pay a fine of 5,000 pounds, in addition, to confiscating the novel.
The case started in April 2008 when the Vice Squad (a body of the Ministry of Interior) collected hundreds of copies of the novel Metro after storming El Malemeh printing house and some libraries that sell the novel. The squad issued arrest
warrants to the public prosecutor against El Shafai and El Sahrqawi to investigate with them. The ruling of the president of the Court of South Cairo was the collection and confiscation of the novel from the market and the prosecution of El Shafai and El
Sahrqawi for making and publishing something that was regarded immoral to the public; since the former wrote the novel that contains immoral statements and the latter for publishing and distributing it.
Human rights organizations, Arabic Network for Human Rights Information, Association of Freedom of thought and expression and Hisham Mubarek Law Center, have signed this statement to confirm their continuous support to artists and calls people
care about freedom of expression to show their solidarity to the author and publisher of Metro , especially since it's the first graphic novel in Egypt and have received many awards and appraisals from critics. The organizations also state that
criticizing literary work shouldn't be held in courts.
A man has been sentenced to death in Saudi Arabia for witchcraft because he makes predictions on television.
Ali Sibat is not even a Saudi national. The Lebanese citizen was only visiting Saudi Arabia on pilgrimage when he was arrested in Medina last year.
A court in the city condemned him as a witch on November 9.
The only evidence presented in court was reportedly the claim he appeared regularly on Lebanese satellite issuing general advice on life and making predictions about the future.
The case is causing outrage among human rights campaigners but has made little news elsewhere despite the ludicrous nature of the charges and the extraordinary severity of Sibat's sentence.
Saudi courts are sanctioning a literal witch hunt by the religious police, said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at Human Rights Watch: The crime of witchcraft is being used against all sorts of behavior, with the cruel threat of
state sanctioned executions.
Ali Sibat's supporters say he was denied a lawyer at his trial and was tricked into making a confession.
Haifa Wehbe, a popular Lebanese pop singer, has always been a controversial figure. The queen of a relatively new breed of voluptuous, coquettish starlets, her provocative lyrics, attire and music videos have won her popularity among Arab men who
lust after her, women who want to emulate her, and now children targeted by her latest album. It is in objection to allegedly racially insulting lyrics from this album that a group of Nubian lawyers submitted an official complaint to Egypt's public
prosecutor calling for one of the songs to be banned.
The offending track, Baba Feen , a children's ditty shot in a bizarre Alice-in-Wonderland-meets-Teletubbies video, features Wehbe as a very sexy mother trying to cajole her young son into going back to bed – which he refuses to do unless she
meets several demands, one of which is to fetch him his teddy bear and Nubian monkey .
This perceived reference to black Egyptians has provoked anger among the country's Nubian minority and the diva is now facing claims that the song's lyrics are discriminatory and are fuelling racist attitudes towards Nubians, allegedly contributing to
playground bullying of dark-skinned children. The episode seems to have galvanised members of the Nubian community, who originate from southern Egypt and north Sudan, the descendants of the founders of the Nubian kingdom, one of Africa's earliest black
civilisations, which flourished along the banks of the Nile some 3,000 years BC.
The singer has apologised profusely for any offence caused and claimed that the song was penned by an Egyptian writer who told her that the term referred to a popular children's street game (which makes no sense in the context of the song, where the
boy is ticking off a list of toys he wants including a teddy bear, Barbie and toy musical organ).
Dr. Sayed Al Khatab who is the president of the Egyptian censorship had made a decision to forbid the new clip for the song Baba Feen (where Is Daddy) for the famous Lebanese superstar Haifa Wahbe, claiming that she had made some inappropriate
remarks about the Egyptian ethnic group the Nuba . He also points out that the song did not get the official permission to air.
Reporters Without Borders hails the lifting of the last restrictions on the use of the Kurdish language by the Turkish news media. This is an important and symbolically-charged step but its impact will be very limited as long as the media cannot
tackle Kurdish issues without risking prosecution, the press freedom organisation said.
The government gazette published a directive on 13 November indefinitely lifting all remaining restrictions on the broadcast media's use of minority languages. Use of Kurdish had been allowed in the print media and the national public TV station TRT 6
since January 2004, but privately-owned radio stations were limited to five hours of Kurdish programming a week while privately-owned TV stations were limited to four hours.
Furthermore, all Kurdish-language TV programmes had to be subtitled in Turkish, which made live broadcasts impossible. As a result, only TV stations offered any Kurdish programmes, the local station Gn TV and, in the past two months, the
satellite TV station Su TV.
There should not be a pre-censorship on journalism in Yemen because the measure ended when the reunification of the south and north took place in 1990, Information Minister has said.
At a conference organized by the Information Ministry at its former headquarters in Sana'a, Hasan Al-Lawzi said exercising freedom of expression must result in respecting the others' rights.
The ministry does not prevent obtaining licenses for newspapers, but some are long-processed due to necessary legal procedures, he claimed.
On halting some publications, Al-Lawzi said the papers blocked committed grave mistakes that they published anti-unity rhetoric and harmed special figures. Hence, the ministry took legal measures over violations by the newspapers under its
responsibility to protect the people and the country.
A Saudi man who boasted who was sentenced to five years in jail after boasting about his sex life on television has appealed his case.
Mazen Abdul Jawad, who was also ordered to receive 1,000 lashes after his appearance of the LBC show Bold Red Line last July, has appealed the convictions handed down by a criminal court on Sharia law-based charges relating to immoral
Three friends who appeared on the show with him and who were given two-year terms have also made an appeal, Muhammad Amin Mirdad, the judge presiding over the case, said in comments published by Arab News.
Although Beirut is generally regarded as an oasis of freedom in a largely repressed region, the continuing censorship of the arts there is threatening to tarnish this image. While the press and TV, particularly after the Syrian withdrawal in 2005, report
freely, an antiquated prior-censorship tradition has left the arts to the mercy of the gendarmes.
Recently the censor's blade struck again, this time shredding Lebanese director Simon El Habre's debut film One Man Village for allegedly threatening civil accord. The film, winner of the Canadian Hot Docs Best feature length documentary
amongst many other honours around the world, follows the life of Semaan, one of the few Christian villagers who returned to live in the abandoned village of Ain al-Halazoun. In spite of the post-war reconciliation between the Druze and Christian
inhabitants of the Mountain , few villagers other than Semaan chose to return to their long-abandoned villages. The film observes Semaan's life in the village and his fellow villagers' visits to their hometown, raising, important but generally
neglected, questions of memory, amnesia, healing and reconciliation.
The censorship board responded by ordering five minutes cut from the film so as to avoid stirring sectarian tensions . In addition to blatantly limiting free expression, these concerns do seem preposterous in light of the unregulated more
intrusive and influential electronic media, which has been at times accused of inciting hatred.
The Saudi king has waived the lashing a court ordered against a woman for working at a Lebanese television channel that aired a sexual confessions programme.
He (King Abdullah) has asked the ministry of justice to drop the lashing against journalist Rozana al-Yami, information ministry spokesman Abdul Rahman al-Hazaa told AFP.
Hazaa said that the king has ordered the transfer of the cases to the ministry of information, referring to Yami's case and that of another female journalist, reportedly named Iman Rajab, who was convicted of working for the same controversial
programme which caused a stir in the conservative kingdom.
A woman journalist has been sentenced to 60 lashes by a Saudi Arabian court after a man appearing on the television chat show she worked on described his sex life.
Rozanna al-Yami said she was too frustrated and upset to appeal the sentence, which was handed down by a judge in Jiddah as a deterrence .
The show, Bold Red Line , caused huge controversy in the ultra-conservative Arab state when it was broadcast in July on the Lebanese Broadcasting Corporation's satellite channel. It featured a man called Mazen Abdul-Jawad talking openly about
his active sex life and displaying sex toys, which were blurred out by the producers.
Al-Yami said she worked on the series as a co-ordinator but had not been involved with the offending edition. She had understood that the judge had dropped charges against her, which included involvement in the preparation of the program and
advertising it on the internet.
Her conviction, she added, seemed to rest on the question of whether LBC was properly licensed to operate in Saudi Arabia: I had nothing to do with Mazen Abdul-Jawad's show. The verdict was just because I cooperated with LBC, she said. I was
not aware (that LBC was unlicenced) but in the end this is the verdict and I accept it.
The Saudi ministry of culture and information yesterday questioned the validity of the court proceedings. Spokesman Abdul-Rahman al-Hazza said al-Yami should have been tried before a court that specialised in media issues and that failing to do so was
a violation of Saudi law. It is a precedent to try a journalist before a summary court for an issue that concerns the nature of his job, he said. LBC's Western-style entertainment programmes and talk shows have made it a popular channel in Saudi
Arabia, and royal billionaire Prince Alwaleed bin Talal is a shareholder.
Israel's foreign minister ordered Turkey's ambassador to be summoned over a Turkish TV series that portrays Israeli soldiers killing children.
Avigdor Lieberman said the programme, broadcast on Turkey's state television, incited hatred against the country. In one clip screened on Israeli TV, an Israeli soldier takes aim at a smiling young girl.
In a statement, Lieberman said the series, which presents Israeli soldiers as the murders of innocent children, would not be appropriate for broadcast even in an enemy country and certainly not in a state which maintains diplomatic relations with
Another clip from the series - which tells the story of a Palestinian family - reportedly shows a bullet fired by an Israeli solders travelling in slow motion towards a Palestinian child. The programme was broadcast on Tuesday evening on Turkey's TRT
Turkish authorities imposed censorship on state-owned TRT channel, which on its part is showing Ayrilik (Separation), a highly-controversial prime-time TV series set against the backdrop of Israeli Operation Cast Lead in the Gaza Strip.
The now-censored series show Israeli soldiers shooting a smiling young girl in the chest, killing babies, steamrolling tanks through crowded streets and lining up a firing squad to execute a group of Palestinians, among other scenes that Israel saw as
For decades, Lebanese journalism has been applauded as the freest, most outspoken and most literate in the heavily censored Arab world. Alas, no more. Beirut's best-read daily has just shed more than 50 staff and LBC, one of the country's best-known
television stations, has just fired three of its most prominent presenters. The Lebanese media are being hit - like the rest of the world - by the internet and falling advertising revenues. But this is Lebanon, where politics is always involved. Is
something rotten in the state of the Lebanese press?
Is it by chance that An Nahar's culture editor - whose supplement campaigned against assassinated prime minister Rafiq Hariri's plans for rebuilding downtown Beirut - has been fired after the paper cosied up to the politics of Hariri's son Saad, now
the Lebanese prime minister designate? Is it a coincidence that the three senior presenters on LBC represented the last supporters of the old Lebanese Forces (of civil war infamy) still working at the channel?
Kuwait's leading liberal movement has vowed to defy state censorship placed on books by staging a sit-in on Oct 31.
This demonstration will mark a protest against any ban on publications during the upcoming book fair.
Burning books is equal to burning people, said Dr. Mohammad Al-Hasan, Secretary General of the Liberal Democratic Forum movement during a seminar that was organized by the forum under the title Censorship Protects Ignorance.
Al-Hasan held the government accountable for what he described as intellectual terrorism by imposing strict censorship on various kinds of publications, including books. He also claimed that the country's Islamic blocs are only instruments
in the government's hand.
Meanwhile, seminar convener Ahmad Saud, who is also the Chairman of National Democratic Youth Association, announced that the seminar was held as part of a series of activities that will be held by organizers. He revealed that the movement would hold
a sit in on Oct. 31 during the book fair which will be held by the end of this month at Mishref's International fair ground.
Yousef Khalifa presented his own experience with the censorship board where the Monitoring Committee of the Ministry of Information prevented him from publishing his book. It had offered the explanation that his work hurts the country's moral fabric
without even mentioning the reasons and causes of why certain sentences and text should be altered in the book. He added that many of the authors and novelists have stopped writing or did not complete them because they are worried that censorship would
erode the book's intellectual value. Khalifa asked why people continued to ignore the will imposed by the state. We should take an decisive action against censorship, he asserted.
The weekly independent newspaper, Al Balagh Al Gadid , has been banned after reporting that three prominent Egyptian actors were caught in a prostitution network for homosexuals.
In a story published last week, the paper reported that the actors were questioned by police for being part of a homosexuals' network, which was allegedly discovered last month at the Semiramis Intercontinental Hotel in Cairo.
While police sources denied the story, the newspaper said the actors were investigated by authorities before they bribed officers and the hotel management to disregard the whole incident and keep it quiet. The actors were outraged by the report,
saying the newspaper's story was groundless. They filed lawsuits against the publication's chief editor, executive chief editor and one of its reporters.
In a statement, the Egyptian Higher Council for Journalism said it decided to ban the broadsheet after considering the reports forwarded to the general prosecutor by the actors, who stressed that Al Balagh Al Gadid was aiming to damage their
Most public figures in Egypt want to avoid being connected to homosexuality, which could damage their popularity among Muslim fans.
A Saudi man who boasted about his sexual exploits on television has been sentenced to five years in prison and 1,000 lashes, drawing worldwide attention to the conservative kingdom's highly repressive laws on personal morality.
Mazen Abdel-Jawad was convicted of publicising vice and confessing to crimes on a satellite television channel for describing his conquests on LBC TV's Bold Red Line talkshow. He bragged that he first had sex at the age of 14.
Abdel-Jawad was also told by a criminal court in Jeddah that he would not be allowed to travel abroad for five years after his release. His lawyer said he would appeal against the sentence.
The divorced airline employee was arrested in August by the religious police and charged after describing his sexual relationships and how he picked up women using Bluetooth mobile phone messaging. He was also shown on television with sex toys,
condoms and lubricants in his red-themed bedroom and filmed cruising the streets of Jeddah looking for women.
The episode sent shock waves across Saudi Arabia. Many ordinary citizens reportedly filed petitions with the authorities after the programme was broadcast in mid-July, demanding that Abdul-Jawad be punished, even executed for moral corruption .
Three of his friends who appeared with him were sentenced to two years in jail and 300 lashes each.
Turks are used to watching erotic scenes in foreign TV series. But when Turkish actors appear in erotic scenes in popular, prime-time Turkish series, the question of whether they harm Turkish family values and should be encrypted is launching a new
After five minutes of kissing earned one television channel a warning from the industry watchdog and prompted a state minister to suggest encrypting scenes of questionable mores, debate has erupted over the appropriate length of romantic encounters on
This debate, however, is only a small part of a much larger discussion ongoing in society over popular TV series that stand accused of harming Turkish family values. But what exactly are Turkish family values? ask some experts.
A suggestion from the state minister in charge of family and children, Selma Aliye Kavaf, that some TV channels air scenes in their programs or series that could be encrypted has fueled debate over the content of programming on television. In a
press meeting Sept. 26, Kavaf said: The scenes, broadcasts, publishing, speeches and actions that might harm the strength of the family and content that could offend the public conscience should be examined, Anatolia news agency reported.
This suggestion drew a strong reaction, as television critics complained that proposing encrypted broadcasts to national channels for certain scenes is technically impossible and equates to censorship.