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25th December   

Petition: Offside and Inside...

  Video Universe - Buy New Release DVDs, TV on DVD, Music Videos and Much More

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Noted Iranian film director jailed for 6 years
Link Here  full story: Jafar Panahi...Iran jails film director for propaganda against the regime

Crimson White Balloon Talaye Badkonake The acclaimed Iranian film-maker Jafar Panahi has been sentenced to six years in prison, and banned from directing and producing films for the next 20 years, his lawyer said.

Panahi, an outspoken supporter of Iran's opposition green movement, was convicted of colluding in gathering and making propaganda against the regime, Farideh Gheyrat told the Iranian state news agency, ISNA.

He is also  banned from travelling abroad and also giving any interviews to the media including foreign and domestic news organisations.

Panahi won the Camera d'Or at the Cannes film festival in 1995 for his debut feature, The White Balloon , and the Golden Lion at Venice for his 2000 drama, The Circle . His other films include Crimson Gold and Offside . He is highly regarded around the world but his films are banned at home.

Sign the Free Jafar Panahi petition from petitiononline.com :

To: The Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran

We call on the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran for the immediate release of internationally respected Iranian Filmmaker Jafar Pahani, (winner of the Camera d' Or at Cannes, the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival and the Silver Bear at the Berlin Film Festival) and his family and dependents.

 

18th December   

Al-Jazzera Beaten Up in Kuwait...

Video Universe - Buy New Release DVDs, TV on DVD, Music Videos and Much More

Al-Jazeera banned after it showed police beating opposition MPs
Link Here

Al Jazeera logo Kuwait has shut the offices of al-Jazeera in the country and withdrawn its accreditation after it broadcast news of an opposition National Assembly member in defiance of government warnings. Its reporters are also barred from working in the country.

The network says Kuwait accused it of meddling in the country's internal affairs. Last week al-Jazeera broadcast footage of police beating opposition assembly members and their supporters at a meeting to discuss a government crackdown on freedoms.

The station says it will continue to cover news in Kuwait.

 

12th December   

Arab Museum of Modern Art...

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New Qatari art gallery will bravely include nudes
Link Here

doha art exhibiit With exhibits showing nudity and politically radical ideas, Qatar's brand new modern art museum may raise a few eyebrows in the traditionally conservative Middle East.

The Mathaf Arab Museum of Modern Art, founded by powerful Qatari art patron Sheikh Hassan bin Mohamed bin Ali Al-Thani, is slated to open in Qatar's capital, Doha, just before the new year.

Wassan Al-Khudhairi, Mathaf's chief curator, says one of the museum's major contributions to the growing Middle Eastern art scene will be to push the boundaries of what is deemed acceptable in the region.

That means that works containing nudity and politically sensitive imagery -- often taboo subjects in this part of the world -- will not be subject to censorship, according to Al-Khudhairi. Qatar's new cultural icon Gallery: Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art

The collection has these kinds of works in it. The collection has nudes; the collection has political works. These things are part of the collection -- we can't deny it.

 

9th December   

Iranian Justice "Corrupt on Earth"...

Canadian sentenced to death in Iran for running Canadian porn site
Link Here  full story: Internet Death Sentence...Iran goes extreme over website censorship

Iran flag Iranian officials have sentenced a man to death for allegedly running a porn site in Canada.

According to the Toronto Globe and Mail, Saeed Malekpour was sentenced after being convicted as corrupt on Earth and a warrior against God.

Malekpour is an Iranian-born Canadian resident and returned to Iran to visit his sick father in October of 2008, that's when he was put in Tehran's Evin Prison and where he was given the news of the verdict.

His wife said her husband's lawyer is appealing the case to Iran's highest court.

Meanwhile, the Canadian government is blasting Iran over the death sentence. Melissa Lantsman, spokeswoman for Canadian Foreign Minister Lawrence Cannon, said:

Canada remains deeply concerned by the continued flagrant disregard of the Iranian authorities for the rights of Iranians. This appears to be another case in which someone in Iran is facing a death sentence after a highly questionable process.

We continue to call on Iran to respect its domestic and international obligations and ensure fairness and due process for all its citizens and others.

 

9th December   

Gossip and Slander...

Turkey's PM wound up by leaked State Department cables
Link Here

Wikileaks Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan has accused U.S. diplomats of spreading gossip and slander after leaked State Department cables alleged corruption in his government and portrayed him as an Islamist.

He suggested the release of the trove of cables may be propaganda aimed at damaging relations between the United States and its allies.

The diplomatic messages at times show concerns that European Union candidate Turkey is shifting its allegiances from the West and Israel toward Iran and other Muslim countries since Erdogan took office in 2002.

Edelman's cables also portray Erdogan as an authoritarian, distrustful leader of his ruling AK Party and say that he believes God appointed him to lead Turkey.

 

3rd December   

Offsite: Easily Censored...

Facebook gets caught up in Egypt's media crackdown
Link Here

Facebook logo Facebook is very popular among young, politically active Egyptians, with a local membership in excess of 4 million. While some media outlets have been constrained, many Egyptians have turned to the social networking site to disseminate news. News is spread by wall postings on popular groups and fan pages. According to the local news portal Masrawy, writer Alaa al-Aswani used his Facebook page to announce his plans to create a new website after suspending his regular newspaper column due to external interference.

So far, the site has avoided being blocked entirely by the government, despite threats to do so since at least 2008. But on Thursday, two Facebook groups, We Are Khaled Said --an anti-police violence group that emerged after the death of a young Alexandrian cybercafe user, apparently at the hands of the local police--and a page in support of Egyptian Nobel Prize winner Mohamed ElBaradei, were simultaneously shut down by Facebook itself just two days before the election, and a day before planned protests that were being discussed on the pages.

Did Facebook bow to Egyptian government pressure?

...Read the full article

 

2nd December   

Old Coup, Old Book, But New Arrest...

Turkey imprisons author over book written a decade ago
Link Here

Turkey flag The Proletarian Revolutionary Stance magazine called for the release of writer Nevin Berktas, author of the book Difficult places that challenge the faith: Prison Cells.

The book describes the process of resistance in the prison cells where she was incarcerated herself during the time of the military coup in 1980. The publication is subject to a trial that has been pending for ten years now. Berktas was arrested last week.

Magazine writer Berktas is tried under charges of spreading propaganda for an illegal organization on the grounds of her book published in April 2000 at Yediveren Publishing.

 

30th November   

ESRA...

Iranian games ratings proposed for international games producers to gauge their suitability for the islamic world
Link Here

ESRA 25 rating At the Dubai World Game Expo the Index Holding corporation and the Iran National Foundation Of Computer Games announced the formation and launch of the Entertainment Software Rating Association (ESRA).

The ESRA is designed to evaluate games in respect to Islamic values and rate them accordingly.

Anas Al Madani, VP of Index Holding said: We as organisers endorse this initiative which aims at evolving the Islamic values and maintain the conservative aspect within the children and the society in general. We are keen on encouraging game developers and publishers to use the ESRA system, as it enables publishers to understand the nature of the Islamic society and the different aspects that it emphasizes.

ESRA will work as an indicator for game companies in order to know whether the games approve with the Islamic values, and do not violate any of the Islamic traditions in Islamic countries.

Details of ESRA Ratings

See also ESRA webpage in English from ircg.ir
See also sample ratings from ircg.ir

The Entertainment Software Rating Association (ESRA) was established in 2007 by Iran National Foundation of Computer Games which is a self-regulatory organization. The research project of ESRA is run by a research team of 17 psychologists and 8 sociologists.

In rating, ESRA considers 4 characteristics in rating computer games

  1. Physical - motional characteristics
  2. Intellectual – mental characteristics
  3. Emotional characteristics
  4. Social characteristics

The age classifications are:

  • Kids 3+
  • Childhood 7+
  • beginning of adolescence 12+
  • second half of adolescent 15+
  • adult, single 18+
  • adult, married 25+

Content description categories:

  • Violence : The display of violence is when a behavior displayed to harm someone or something, ranged from destroying the belongings and making the unanimated things out of order…
  • Tobacco and drug : Watching the use of drug and tobacco in games can lose the internal-social taboo of not using it for the addressees.
  • Sexual stimuli : Sexual diversity, sexuality out of social norms, etc can end to the social and physical harms related to the sexual needs of the addressees and his /her social situations.
  • Fear : Fear is an internal feeling based on insecurity and not the lack of trust to the atmosphere, which leads to chronic stress, conservative behaviors, etc in social atmosphere.
  • Religious values violation : The violation of religious values is in accord with the Islamic principles. Two of the important elements of it are as follow: 1. The violation of the basic principles or religious belief, 2. Sacrilege the holy places
  • The social norms violation : Using the vulgar words and the uprightness behaviors which lead to breaking the social norms are among the social harms that the kids and the adolescents become familiar with.
  • Hopelessness : This content in games is related to a kind of feeling where the gamer have to do or not to do something which makes him/her feel sinful..

 

24th November   

Update: Catching Them Whilst They're Young...

Iran detains young blogger for supporting feminist causes
Link Here

Iran flag The Iranian government is not only world-class when it comes to persecuting bloggers, they have also set numerous records: from the first jailed blogger in history, to the first blogger to die in prison. Unfortunately, a new record can now be added to the list of Iran's repressive achievements: the youngest blogger to be detained and put on trial.

18-year-old Navid Mohebbi, is currently being tried behind closed doors before a revolutionary court in the northern city of Amol. His lawyer is not being allowed to attend the trial, which began on 14 November.

Arrested at his home in Amol on 18 September by eight intelligence ministry officials, Mohebbi is facing the possibility of a long prison sentence.

A women's rights activist, who keeps a blog called The writings of Navid Mohebbi at navidmohebbi3.blogfa.com , had been summoned and questioned several times by various intelligence services in the past year. He was beaten at the moment of his arrest and has been held in cell with ordinary offenders ever since.

Mohebbi has been accused of activities contrary to national security and insulting the Islamic Republic's founder and current leader (...) by means of foreign media. He has also been accused of being member of the One Million Signatures movement, a campaign to collect signatures to a petition for changes to laws that discriminate against women.

One the movement's leaders, Sussan Tahmassebi, who edits the English-language version of the Change for Equality website, received the Alison Des Forges award from Human Rights Watch on 16 November for her activities of behalf of human rights. She told Reporters Without Borders: I dedicate this prize to all the human rights activists and women's rights activists in Iran, especially those who are currently in prison, hoping to be freed soon. This prize will given them encouragement.

 

19th November   

Dark Days in Saudi...

Saudi journalist to be flogged for reporting protest against frequent power cuts
Link Here

Saudi flag Human Rights Watch has urged Saudi Arabia to overturn a sentence of 50 lashes against a journalist who had reported on a protest against electricity cuts.

The sentence -- including 25 of the lashes to be administered in public, as well as two months in prison -- was handed down on October 26 to Fahd al-Jukhaidib, a correspondent for national daily Al-Jazira.

His article, describing the problems faced by Qubba residents as a result of frequent power cuts.

King Abdullah has encouraged citizens to voice their legitimate concerns... but apparently those who do can expect a public lashing and a prison term, HRW senior Middle East researcher Christoph Wilcke said in a statement: Free assembly and expression are both hallmarks of open, accountable societies, but they are in short supply in a country as repressive as Saudi Arabia .

 

16th November   

Update: Disproportionate in Scope and Duration...

Turkey is reviewing its excessive internet censorship law
Link Here  full story: Internet Censorship in Turkey...Website blocking insults the Turkish people

Turkey flag The possible renewal of the ban on the popular website YouTube after just three days brought the Internet law and the struggle against it to the spotlight once more.

YouTube was one of approximately 5,000 sites with denied access. It was banned in 2008 due to four videos denigrating Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the founder of the Republic of Turkey.

While the top officials of Turkey, including President Abdullah Gul, criticize the restrictions on the Internet, civil society's struggle for Internet freedom is increasing. Meanwhile, it is expected that there will be some legal amendments regarding Internet freedom and some new regulations for the Internet media, especially news sites, but there are already some concerns about their scope.

The Internet restrictions in Turkey are a subject criticized by the EU. There are frequent website bans which are disproportionate in scope and duration, according to the latest EU progress report, which was issued at the beginning of this week, Law No. 5651 … limits freedom of expression and restricts citizens' right to access information.

Actually, YouTube is not the only popular site that has been banned. Wordpress.org, from which more than 3.5 million people are blocked, geocities.com, myspace.com and dailyMotion.com are among the sites banned in Turkey.

But as restrictions on Internet pages are increasing, so is the resistance against them. There are many civil society organizations fighting the bans and new regulations. They are also organized in the Joint Platform against Censorship.

The platform and some other civil society organizations planned a public rally against restrictions on the Internet in Istanbul's Taksim Square this summer and demanded the abolishment of Law 5651 and a new law, prepared in accordance with the principles of democracy and participation of the civil society, to replace it.

A new Internet law is on the agenda, but it is not clear if it will be ready before the general elections. It is also expected that there will be a new law, which will regulate the Internet media, especially news sites, Murat Karakaya, the general director of the Prime Ministry Press and Information Office, pointed out.

The declaration of the Joint Platform against Censorship points out that Law No. 5651 was rushed through Parliament just before it was dissolved for the 2007 general elections and that it did not receive broad public support before or after its enactment. This time it should be different and the opinion of the civil society universities and experts, including bar associations, should be consulted regarding the possible new bill.

 

14th November   

Brave Indeed...

Palestinian atheist blogger arrested and detained
Link Here

Palestine flag A blogger, who set off an uproar in the Arab world by claiming he was God and aiming insults at Muhammad, has been arrested and is being held in police custody.

The case of the shy barber from a backwater West Bank town, is highlighting the  intolerance in the Western-backed Palestinian Authority - and illustrating a new trend by authorities in the Arab world to mine social media for evidence.

Residents of Qalqiliya say they had no idea that Walid Husayin - the 26-year-old son of a Muslim scholar - was leading a double life. Known as a quiet man who prayed with his family each Friday and spent his evenings working in his father's barbershop, Husayin was posting on atheist blogs during his free time.

Now, he faces a potential life prison sentence on heresy charges for insulting the divine essence. With typical blood lust, many towns people say he should be killed for renouncing Islam, and even family members say he should remain behind bars for life.

He should be burned to death, said Abdul-Latif Dahoud, a 35-year-old Qalqiliya resident. The execution should take place in public to be an example to others, he added.

Over several years, Husayin is suspected of posting arguments in favor of atheism on English and Arabic blogs, where he described the God of Islam as having the attributes of a primitive Bedouin. He called Islam a blind faith that grows and takes over people's minds where there is irrationality and ignorance.

He is also suspected of creating three Facebook groups in which he sarcastically declared himself God and ordered his followers, among other things, to smoke marijuana in verses that spoof the Quran. At its peak, Husayin's Arabic-language blog had more than 70,000 visitors, overwhelmingly from Arab countries.

His Facebook groups elicited hundreds of angry comments, detailed death threats and the formation of more than a dozen Facebook groups against him, including once called Fight the blasphemer who said 'I am God.'

Husayin is the first to be arrested in the West Bank for his religious views, said Tayseer Tamimi, the former chief Islamic judge in the area.

Husayin used a fake name on his English and Arabic-language blogs and Facebook pages. After his mother discovered articles on atheism on his computer, she canceled his Internet connection in hopes that he would change his mind.

Instead, he began going to an Internet cafe - a move that turned out to be a costly mistake. The owner, Ahmed Abu-Asal, said the blogger aroused suspicion by spending up to seven hours a day in a corner booth. After several months, a cafe worker snitched to Palestinian intelligence officials and supplied captured snapshots of his Facebook pages.

Husayin has not been charged but remains in detention, said Palestinian security spokesman Adnan Damiri.

Update: Apologies

9th December 2010. Based on article from  thescotsman.scotsman.com

A Palestinian atheist jailed for more than a month for sharing his anti-Islamic views on the internet has apologised for offending Muslims.

A friend said Husayin posted the apology on his blog on 29 November with the hope that it would lead to his release. He posted the apology from a Palestinian military prison in the northern West Bank town of Qalqilya, his hometown.

He has yet to be charged, Palestinian military spokesman Ahmed Mubayad said yesterday. He hinted Husayin could be released in the coming days by saying: There'll be something positive.

Update: Support from France

20th December 2010. Based on article from  google.com

Based on article from google.com

France flag France has said it was concerned about the arrest of a young Palestinian blogger jailed for posting blasphemous remarks online.

France is concerned by the risks of damage to fundamental freedoms and in particular the freedom of expression, contained in the 'crime of blasphemy', a foreign ministry spokeswoman said.

Freedom of religion and of conscience and freedom of expression... guarantee the right to have no religion and the right to express one's opinions without being harassed, she told reporter

 

13th November   

Update: Rappers Rap Whilst Politicians Kill...

Iran doesn't like what rappers are saying about it
Link Here

Az Khaneh Ta Goor Erfan Tehran's chief of police, Hossein Sajedi-Nia, has revealed the fate of young Iranians who are attracted to what he calls morally deviant music.

According to Tehran-Emrouz, an Iranian daily newspaper, he said that young Iranian men and women were arrested last week in a score of raids targeting the capital's underground rap scene. The rappers – both male and female – had apparently taken over vacant buildings in order to create what Iran's regime has depicted as degenerative, anti-Islamic music.

Across Iran, illicit house parties with smuggled alcohol, large amounts of cannabis, and booming Western music are the norm. Young Iranians believe it is a risk worth taking: As long as we are careful, one partygoer told me, as long as we know who our neighbours are, we can dance to whatever music we want. She is right. More often than not, the Iranian police have turned a blind eye to what Iranians do in the comfort of their own homes.

The regime can tolerate its youth intoxicated. But what it cannot abide is young Iranians actively subverting its authority. Iranian rap is not a direct emulation of what the regime deems messianic American rap; its lyrics often derive from the pain of living under the corruption and abuse of the Islamic Republic.

The establishment of the Islamic regime marked the exodus of talented Iranian musicians from the country. One famous Iranian rapper, Erfan, now lives in California. His lyrics are not about fast cars and money. And they are certainly not, as the Iranian government has suggested, sexually explicit.

In an explicit attack against the Regime, Erfan also wrote Tasmim (Resolution), after the June 2009 Green Movement protests in Iran. One line in particular echoes recent events: Every day you say our Iran is at fault, you say this but you beat and you kill. It is for lyrics like these that the young musicians have been arrested in Tehran.

 

11th November   

Update: Immersed in Books...

Iran's 20 book censors swamped by the workload
Link Here

Iran flag The Iranian censor's office is alive and well, if somewhat slow to get through the mounds of books awaiting approval.

Spare a thought for Iran's literary censors - unloved by writers and publishers alike, they have thousands of works to read through, so much so that the piles of books have spilled out from their rooms at the culture ministry into the corridors.

Figures from the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance show that the country has some 7,000 publishing firms. Take just two of these companies - one of them says it has about 70 novels and short story collections currently pending approval from the censors. The other says it has had between 50 and 70 books awaiting review at any one time for the past two years.

Supposing that just 1,000 publishers each deliver five books a year to the ministry's book department, that comes to 5,000 a year, plus the many inevitably left over from previous years. Writers and translators routinely wait for one, two or even three years for a decision on the suitability of their books.

The censors' work has always been shrouded in secrecy, but the word in the publishing industry is that there are never more than 20 of them.

To make matters worse, after Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was first elected president in 2005, the first thing his then culture minister Mohammad Hossein Saffar Harandi did was to revoke all the licenses issued under the previous president, Mohammad Khatami.

That created a massive backlog of applications. Censors had to go through already published works as well as the never-ending flow of new ones, checking line by line to see whether they were compatible with the core Islamic values the new administration wanted to assert. This is while, under Ahmadinejad, hard-liners in government have frequently questioned whether literature has any use or point at all.

 

8th November   

Update: Failed, Must do Better...

EU annual report criticises Turkey over lack of media freedom
Link Here  full story: Insulting Turkishness...Insulting Turkishness law used to repress

EU flag The European Union on Tuesday will criticize Turkey sharply over the rising number of prosecutions against journalists in an annual progress report on the country's bid to join the bloc, said a person familiar with the draft.

The attack on Turkey's press-freedom record is likely to further embarrass the country's Islamic-leaning government, which this week takes over the six-month rotating chair of the Council of Europe, the Continent's top human-rights body. Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu has hailed that development as testament to the level of democracy in Turkey.

But according to Turkish and international press watchdogs, media freedoms—a key right underpinning democratic systems—are getting significantly worse in Turkey. Reporters without Borders this year ranked Turkey 138th in terms of media freedom, out of 178 countries—down from 98th out of 167 in 2005.

The Justice Ministry, in written answers to questions, said, Turkey is a democratic state, governed by the rule of law, in which press freedoms are guaranteed by the constitution. But the ministry acknowledged that the rise in cases was a problem. At this moment, our ministry is preparing a draft that foresees the amending of some articles concerning the press in the Turkish Penal Code, the Justice Ministry wrote, singling out the articles on secrecy of investigations, personal privacy and the attempt to affect a fair trial.

The ministry also noted that in 2008 it amended the penal code's Article 301, which penalized anyone who publicly denigrated Turkishness, the military, courts or government. Ethnic Armenian journalist Hrant Dink was prosecuted under Article 301 in 2006, and was assassinated soon afterward. Since 2008, prosecutors need permission from the Justice Ministry to open a case under Article 301, and new prosecutions have come to a near halt as a result.

 

8th November   

Update: Ferhat Tunc...

Turkish singer acquitted and then re-arrested
Link Here  full story: Music Censorship in Turkey...Musician under duress from Turkish authorities

Baba Munzur Freemuse Award winner, Ferhat Tunç was acquitted from the Diyarbarkir Criminal Court in Turkey.

Facing a 15 year prison sentence because of a speech he made during the First Eruh-Çirav Nature Culture and Arts Festival on 15 August 2009, Tunç was tried under article 7/2 of the Anti-Terrorism Law. The judges - after a one hour break at the Diyarbarkir High Criminal Court - decided there was no evidence of Tunç having committed any crime.

In a letter to the Turkish Prime Minister, Freemuse and the artists protested against the continuous harassments against Tunç and appealed for the dismissal of the case. The campaign was joined by the President's of the Nordic Pen centres.

Ferhat Tunç in a phone call from Diyarbarkir to Freemuse forwarded his gratitude to everyone who has supported him.

But one day after the acquittal of Ferhat Tunç the Istanbul police turned up at his home to inform the singer that he will be charged in two new cases

Ferhat Tunç in a mail to Freemuse writes: Such is my life! Tomorrow I will have to present myself once again to the police .

Freemuse regrets that the Turkish authorities continue the harassment of the singer.

 

6th November   

Update: TV Government Criticism Besieged...

Iraq closes Al-Baghdadia TV station
Link Here

albaghdadia tv logo The Committee to Protect Journalists is alarmed by the Iraqi authorities' decision to close down Al-Baghdadia TV offices in Iraq. The closure of the Cairo-based satellite channel was announced after it broadcast the demands of gunmen who attacked a church in Baghdad on Sunday. Fifty-eight people were killed during the siege, according to news reports.

On Monday, security forces sealed the station's Baghdad and Basra offices. No one was allowed to enter the buildings, according to Al-Baghdadia bureau chief in Cairo, Abdelhamid al-Saih. The Communications and Media Commission (CMC), a media regulatory body, issued a statement on its website announcing the decision to shut Al-Baghdadia's offices.

Al-Saih told CPJ that he believed the authorities were using the siege broadcast as a smokescreen for the real reason why they wanted to shut down Al-Baghdadia. We have received complaints before from the CMC regarding a TV program called Al-Baghdadia wa al-nas (Al-Bagdadia and the People) in which we interview Iraqi citizens on-air and give them the opportunity to voice their criticism of the government and officials, he said. Ziad al-Ajili, director of the Journalistic Freedoms Observatory, a local press freedom organization, told CPJ that he also thought there were other reasons behind the closure, including the same critical program.

We are concerned by the closure of Al-Baghdadia TV and demand that the CMC explain under what authority it has stormed the station's offices and censored it, said Mohamed Abdel Dayem, CPJ's Middle East and North Africa program coordinator. We call on the authorities to allow the station to resume its operations immediately.

 

4th November   

Update: Naughty Politicians...

YouTube only made a brief return to Turkey
Link Here  full story: Internet Censorship in Turkey...Website blocking insults the Turkish people

YouTube logo Turkey has reinstated its block on YouTube – this time because it is showing a naughty clip of an opposition politician in a hotel bedroom with a female party member.

Access to YouTube from Turkey was reinstated at the weekend after clips insulting the country's founder Mustafa Kemal Atatürk were removed on copyright grounds. According to Turkish law, it is illegal to insult Ataturk. Google then decided the vids were not infringing anyone's copyright after all, and put them back on the site.

But a court in Ankara ruled that Turkey's telecoms ministry should again block access, Bloomberg reported.

 

2nd November   

Update: Copyright Claims on Turkish Insult Rejected...

YouTube may have only made a brief return to Turkey
Link Here  full story: Internet Censorship in Turkey...Website blocking insults the Turkish people

YouTube logo Despite the earlier news that Turkey has lifted its ban on YouTube after almost 2.5 years, YouTube reinstated the four videos that were removed by a licensing agency in Germany.

YouTube, in a statement circulated in Turkish  stated that the four videos did not violate its copyright violation policy and therefore they were put back into the system.

I did verify the statement and the four videos are available where they were used to be available. YouTube also announced that it continues to use a local blocking system and therefore Turkish users will not be able to see these videos from Turkey if YouTube remains accessible from Turkey. However, those videos will be available and accessible from outside Turkey.

I remains to be seen how the Turkish authorities will react to this action by YouTube but I strongly suspect that they will issue a new injunction to block access to YouTube.

 

1st November   

Offsite: A Bad Influence for Egypt...

Coptic Christians see al-Jazeera as divisive of Egypt
Link Here

Al Jazeera logo The majority of Coptic Christians and liberal Muslims in Egypt believe that Fundamentalist sheikhs and their mass media have played a vital role in the latest wave of incitement against the Coptic Church, orchestrated by Egyptian State Security.

The Salafi television channels, airing their programs from Egypt, supported by their affiliated fundamentalist journalists and mosque imams, have engaged in a coordinated smear campaign against the Coptic Church and its Pope, designed to terrorize the Copts.

Newspapers and TV channels in Arab countries gave a wide platform for Islamists to join in the campaign. It was on Al-Jezeerah TV Channel on September 15 that the Islamist and ex-secretary general of the International Union for Muslim Scholars, Dr. Selim Al-Awah, accused the Pope of running a State within the Egyptian State and the church of having its own militia and of hiding weapons and ammunition obtained from Israel in monasteries and churches, preparing for a war against the Muslims, to divide Egypt and establish a so-called Coptic State.

Al-Awah also accused the church of abducting and torturing Christian converts to Islam in monasteries, to brainwash them back to Christianity. He warned that if the status of the Church remains as such, the country will burn and called on Muslims to go out in demonstrations as the only answer left to counteract the strength of the Church.

...Read the full article

 

31st October   

Update: Copyright Claimed on Turkish Insult...

YouTube returns to Turkey
Link Here  full story: Internet Censorship in Turkey...Website blocking insults the Turkish people

YouTube logo Turkey has lifted its ban on YouTube, two years after it blocked access to the website because of videos deemed insulting to the country's founder.

Transport Minister Binali Yildirim, who is in charge of internet issues, said the government had been in contact with Google, which owns YouTube.

Yildirim said there was no longer any reason to ban the website, because the offending videos had been removed.  I hope that [Google] have also learned from this experience and the same thing will not happen again. YouTube will hopefully carry out its operations in Turkey within the limits of law in the future, he added.

The video clip prompting the ban was reportedly posted by Greek users of the website and dubbed Ataturk and Turks homosexuals.

In a statement, YouTube said that it had received reports that some users in Turkey were once again able to access its content. We want to be clear that a third party, not YouTube, have apparently removed some of the videos that have caused the blocking of YouTube in Turkey using our automated copyright complaint process, it explained. We are investigating whether this action is valid in accordance with our copyright policy, the company added.

 

31st October   

Update: Turkey in a Blackberry Jam...

Turkey says that new law demanding encrypted communications keys applies to BlackBerry phones
Link Here

Turkey flag Research In Motion (RIM) faces a ban of BlackBerry data services in Turkey if it doesn't comply with new legislation, requiring all manufacturers to hand over communication encryption keys to authorities.

Under the newly passed law, the country's Information and Communication Technologies Authority (BTK), will collect the encryption algorithms and encryption keys from every hardware provider wanting to provide encrypted telecommunications capabilities for its devices.

The new regulations aim at combating terrorism and try to make it possible for the country's national security agency to tap into any communications.

According to Turkish Press, BlackBerry is the only smartphone with encryption enabled by default on the local market and RIM is expected to provide BTK with the necessary codes as soon as possible.

A ban will prove problematic for the 400,000 BlackBerry users in Turkey, which include top company executives and some of the country's most influential businessmen.

RIM maintains that it cannot comply with such requests, at least as far as the corporate email is concerned, because it doesn't have the keys. For this service, encryption is achieved between smartphones and BlackBerry Enterprise Servers (BES) operated by companies, in which case RIM serves only as carrier of the encrypted data.

Meanwhile India backs off for a bit

Based on article from  independent.co.uk

India flag India has backed off from a threat to ban popular services on Blackberry devices, amid growing global concern over access to encrypted information.

The Ministry of Home Affairs said that Research in Motion Ltd., the Canadian maker of the smart phones, has agreed to an interim arrangement for lawful interception of Blackberry messenger services — an instant messaging application — and pledged to provide a final solution by January. Accordingly, the ... services will continue to be available, the ministry said in a statement.

RIM, whose competitive edge rests on ensuring security to its global users, has given no details of the possible concessions that led the UAE and India to back off from their October deadlines for access. RIM said it had not changed the security architecture for corporate e-mail and that it does not make special deals on access with individual countries.

 

31st October   

Offsite: Offending the Middle East...

Top 10 Movies Banned In The Middle East
Link Here

Stoning Soraya DVD Region NTSC What follows is a mostly chronological list of ten movies that for various reasons particularly offended Islamic values or regimes in the Middle East, especially Iran, which takes any opportunity to spew blustery propaganda about our warmongering, cultural aggression.

10) Not Without My Daughter
9) The Matrix Reloaded
8) Alexander
7) 300
6) Persepolis
5) The Kingdom
4) Body of Lies
3) The Wrestler
2) Sex and the City 2
1) The Stoning of Soraya M.

...Read the full article

 

29th October   

Moral Identity...

Turkish news channel under fire for criticising the president and prime minister
Link Here

cnn turk logo The Turkish news channel CNN Trk received a warning from the Radio Television Supreme Council (RTK) on the grounds of broadcasting criticism voiced by Hasan Basri Özbey, Secretary General of the Labour Party.

The International Press Institute (IPI) National Committee strongly disagreed with the fine and described CNN Trk as an unbiased news channel that did nothing else but conveying criticism within the framework of a pluralistic publishing policy. RTK chose one of these opinions to penalize by equating the critic with the broadcaster , IPI said. CNN warned because of Özbey's criticism on Gl

Özbey had criticized the past policies of President Abdullah Gl and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan in the course of the program Ne oluyor (What's happening). RTK evaluated the program and concluded that the criticism was a personal attack beyond the limits of moral identity and decided to sanction the channel.

IPI also stated that severe criticism of politicians should be tolerated. The association announced that in all democratic countries it was the common view that politicians accept criticism in advance: The aim of this penalty is to deter people from using freedom of expression to express their views. We assess this penalty as a coup on press freedom in Turkey . (EÖ/VK)

 

26th October   

Update: Unerotic Repression...

Turkish publisher on trial for sexual content gets freedom award from the International Publishing Association
Link Here  full story: Book Censorship in Turkey...Freedom of speech under duress

Exploits of a Young Don Juan The Geneva-based International Publishing Association (IPA) will award its freedom prize to Irfan Sanci on Nov. 2.

Before he receives the award, however, Sanci must appear in an Istanbul court on allegations that one of the books he has published has inappropriate sexual content.

Irfan Sanci, the owner of Sel Publishing House, is on trial for publishing a book with sexual content by French writer Guilliame Apollinare.

There is nothing to say about what's going on. I am being punished in my own country but am also getting an international award. This is tragic, Sanci, the owner of Sel Publishing House, told the Hrriyet Daily News.

Everything aside, Apollinare's book, which is a part of the world's cultural heritage, is being tried for hurting the public's sense of shame, he said.

In May 2010, despite expert reports from the Galatasaray and Bahçesehir Universities concluding that the books were works of literature, an Istanbul court decided to send the three books to the Prime Ministerial Board for the Protection of Children from Harmful Publications for review to determine whether they constitute literature or obscenity, IPA Freedom to Publish Committee Chair Bjorn Simonsen told the Daily News. The news hearing is due on Nov. 2. This is potential political censorship. We therefore call for Sel's acquittal.

Sanci published Perinin Sarkaci (The Fairy's Pendulum) by a young female academic writing under the pen name Ben Mila, as well as Apollinaire's A dventures of the Young Don Juan , P.V.'s Letters of a Learned and Well-mannered French Bourgeois Lady and Spanish writer Juan Manuel de Prada's The Pussy.

The books, however, were sued in accordance with the law for protecting minors from harmful publications.

 

24th October   

No Censorship at the Sharjah Book Fair...

So long as...but...except...unless
Link Here

sharjah world book fair logo There will be no censorship or confiscation of books at this year's event, says a top official.

Titles being displayed at this week's Sharjah International Book Fair will not be censored or confiscated so long as their content is in keeping with the values of the UAE , a senior official said.

The Sharjah Book Fair over its 29 sessions has never confiscated any book as long as it enjoys intellectual property rights and as long as does not conflict with our religion ... and the policy of the UAE , said fair director Ahmed Bin Rakadh Al Amiri.

The fair begins on Tuesday and runs until November 6.

The space of freedom offered by the Sharjah International Book Fair is big enough to avoid confiscation of any book, referring to the awareness of participating publishers by the cultural event, which is considered the most important in the region, Al Amiri claimed in an interview with Emirates247.com.

Al Amiri also said that Octavia Nasr, who served as CNN's Senior Editor of Mideast affairs until her dismissal in July 2010 over her public statement of respect on Twitter for the Lebanese cleric Mohammad Hussein Fadlallah , will give a lecture about her experience in media field.

 

22nd October   

Localisers, Arabisers and Customisers...

Middle Eastern partners spew euphemisms for their computer game censorship
Link Here

mec logo Two Middle Eastern companies have announced a partnership that would introduce localised content to Arabic-speaking regions.

Through the partnership, the Modern Electronics Company (MEC) and Rubicon would not only localize games, but also develop new games that are both educational and entertaining, based on Arabic culture Storyboards, for different gaming platforms.

The localization in this case extends to censorship of extra-violent games and games that contain anything otherwise objectionable to the region. Rubicon refers to this type of localization as Arabize and adapt.

Speaking to Gamerzines, Ghassan Ayoubi, executive director of Rubicon, said the process is not censoring. ..[BUT]... It's tailoring or customising it for the market, Ayoubi said: It's not deviating from the game itself.

MEC is a Saudi Arabian company that's the sole distributor of Sony consumer products (including games) in the country and Rubicon is a regional digital content production company.

 

21st October   

In Love with Censorship...

Egyptian censor objects to Romeo and Juliet romance set amongst political opponents
Link Here

Egypt flag For the second time, Egyptian government censors have rejected a proposed screenplay for a movie entitled Homma Hebo Baad (They're in Love with Each Other).

The first time the screenplay was presented to the censorship board for approval, the film--originally entitled The President's Son --told the story of the son of the president who falls in love with the daughter of a prominent opposition leader.

Scriptwriter Youssef Maaty subsequently modified to the script, changing the leading role from the president's son to the son of the prime minister. Censors, nevertheless, again rejected the script.

The film contains inappropriate political propaganda, said censorship director Sayed Khattab. Art should not be mixed with politics. Khattab denied that the security services had pressured him to reject the screenplay. If it is further amended, I would be willing to approve it, he stressed.

 

20th October   

Voltaire in Tunisia...

Tunisians defend religious channel closed by Egypt on grounds of extremism
Link Here

annas tv logo Satellite TV station Ennas has been closed due to alleged violations of the broadcasting agreement, sparking mixed reactions across the countries of Maghreb (Northwest Africa).

Egypt suspended the license of Al-Baraheen International and its four satellite TV stations, including Ennas, on October 12th citing extremist or sectarian content.

Tunisians were divided over the decision to shut down the channels, with most viewers opposing the ban.

I don't think that this was the best solution, said journalist Sofiene Chourabi. I'm against the silencing of voices. It would have been better to encourage liberal and enlightening channels to broadcast via satellites in order to open the field for honest and balanced competition. After that, the final judgment would be left to viewers.

The suspended business owns the Khaleejia, al-Hafiz, al-Seha wal Jamal and Ennas channels. According to media critic Khemais Khayati, who authored a book on religious TV channels, Ennas has a large audience in Tunisia, with nearly 500,000 viewers.

In principle, channels of expression may not be closed, even if they were encouraging extremism, backwardness and taming, which are the easiest things to convince the general populace with. Therefore, it would have been better to create channels that expose them rather than close them, said Faouzi Naoui.

Human rights activist Bochra Bel Haj Hmida condemned the ban. This is not a solution. It would be better to respond to the backward and racist ideology channels by encouraging all media outlets that call for freedom, human rights and respect of individuals, she said.

Many Tunisians believe in defending the channels whatever their value. Azouz Lotfi told Magharebia the networks don't offer any positive things to humanity... they don't respect the right to different opinion and are hostile to modernity in principle .

Nevertheless, he said: We must defend that channel and its right to broadcasting out of respect for freedom of opinion and expression and values of equality and humanity. We should not fall into the trap of ban, restriction and methods of oppression. We won't defend freedom and dignity using the methods employed by executioners and decapitators.

Offsite: Islamic Fundamentalist Mass Media Targets Egyptian Coptic Church

1st November 2010. Based on article from aina.org By Mary Abdelmassih

On October 19, Egypt's main satellite operator Nilesat temporarily suspended 12 Islamic channels, and warned 20 others, on grounds of violating their licenses. The reasons given were mainly for promoting religious hatred, inciting sectarianism, violence, quack medicine and sorcery. This decision was taken after extensive study that indicated a near doubling of these channels over the past year and a recent spike of extremist religious discourse, information minister Anas Al-Feki said in a statement. Before these measures were taken, there were 94 Islamic private television channels airing from Arab countries.

Nine of the twelve suspended channels were funded by Saudi Arabia. There is no doubt that Saudi Arabia is playing a destructive and ruinous role in Egypt, commented Magdi Khalil.

Analysts said that the suspension decision seemed to be mainly aimed at stopping the spread of strict Islamic Salafi/Wahabbi teaching that might boost support for the Muslim Brotherhood, prompted by the forthcoming crucial parliamentary elections in November.

...read the full article

 

19th October   

Repression by Proxy...

Iranian blogger gets 15 years in jail for work with internet proxies
Link Here

Iran flag Reporters Without Borders condemns the increasing severity of the Iranian regime's persecution of bloggers. One, Hossein Ronaghi Maleki, was given a 15-year jail sentence 10 days ago while another, Mehdi Khazali, the editor of the website Baran http://www.drkhazali.com, was arrested two days ago.

Like journalists, bloggers have been treated for months as if they are enemies of the regime, Reporters Without Borders said: But the authorities have now started to impose much harsher sentences on them. Bloggers involved in censorship circumvention are being particularly targeted as they help their fellow citizens to gain access to banned information.

Mehdi Khazali was arrested on 13 October. He has been posting a lot of criticism of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and his government on his website Baran (http://www.drkhazali.com/) for more than a year.

Maleki received his 15-year jail sentence from the Tehran revolutionary court's 26th chamber on 5 October, after more than 300 days in solitary confinement. It consisted of 11 years for collaborating with the Iran proxy group (which helps Iranians to sidestep online censorship), two years for insulting the Supreme Leader and two years for insulting the president.

Revolutionary Guards arrested Maleki on 13 December during an operation to dismantle a counterrevolutionary network. He was alleged to have written and used software to combat filtering and to host and support websites and blogs that defend human rights. He was held incommunicado for several weeks before the authorities confirmed they were holding him.

 

18th October   

Ferhat Tunc...

Turkish singer on trial
Link Here  full story: Music Censorship in Turkey...Musician under duress from Turkish authorities

Baba Munzur More than 1,000 people sign petition calling on Turkish authorities to drop trial against a Kurdish singer

Singer Ferhat Tunc is facing a prison sentence of up to 15 years on the grounds of a speech made at a cultural festival in the south-eastern province of Siirt. The international writers association, International PEN, addressed the prime minister with regard to this case.

Tunc is charged with spreading propaganda for the PKK organization , the militant Kurdistan Workers' Party, and committing a crime on behalf of an illegal organization without being a member of the organization .

The case against the defendant is being heard at the Diyarbakir 4th High Criminal Court. During a 1 October hearing, his joint attorneys claimed that his speech should be evaluated within the boundaries of freedom of expression and requested their client's acquittal.

 

13th October   

Red Light for Green Days...

Lebanon bans documentary for the duration of the Iranian president's visit
Link Here

green days Lebanese state censors have asked the Beirut International Film Festival to refrain from screening a documentary film on Iranian opposition protests, which had been scheduled to coincide with a visit by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the festival director said.

The film Green Days has not been banned, BIFF founder Colette Naufal told AFP, but the censorship authorities have asked us to postpone the two screenings because of the Iranian president's visit.

Ahmadinejad begins a two-day visit to Lebanon on Wednesday, the day director Hana Makhamalbaf's documentary was scheduled to receive its second BIFF screening.

Her film is about protests that followed Ahmadinejad's disputed re-election in June 2009, and features raw footage of the violence that erupted when Iranian forces cracked down hard on the demonstrators. Supporters of Iranian opposition leader Mir Hossein Mousavi wore green as a sign of protest against what they said was a rigged election.

In a separate development, a BIFF spokesman remarked that one of the movies in the festival's Middle East film competition may also not be screened. Shou Sar (What Happened?) , a feature-length documentary by Lebanese filmmaker De Gaulle Eid, documents his investigation into the circumstances surrounding the massacre of several members of his family in the northern Lebanese village of Edbel during the Lebanese Civil War. The film was banned in August when state censors refused to grant it clearance.

 

12th October   

Update: A Sense of Proportion...

Turkey opposition leader wants to ban Facebook over one insulting group
Link Here  full story: Internet Censorship in Turkey...Website blocking insults the Turkish people

Facebook logo The 22.5 million Turkish members of Facebook may lose access to the popular social-networking site, Facebook, as a result of a court case filed by an opposition leader.

A government minister who has defended Turkey's bans on YouTube and other popular websites hinted that Facebook could share the same fate.

The latest Internet controversy was sparked when lawyers for Kemal Kiliçdaroglu, the leader of the Republican People's Party (CHP) filed a criminal complaint over a Facebook group claiming that the opposition leader was a member of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK).

Addressing rumors that Facebook might be banned as a result, Transportation Minister Binali Yıldırım said that 30 judicial decisions had been issued to ban the site in Turkey.

The minister said Turkey is a state of law and that the government cannot intervene in the decisions made by the judiciary.

Yıldırım has previously made similar comments about the banning of video- sharing portal YouTube, arguing that its parent company, Google, should open an office in Turkey, pay taxes and answer the legal demands regarding its content. YouTube has been banned in the country by several court orders acting on complaints about content insulting the memory of Mustafa Kemal Atatrk, the founder of modern Turkey.

 

11th October   

Update: BlackBerry Bluster...

UAE backs off from banning Blackberry phones
Link Here

UAE flag BlackBerry maker Research In Motion (RIM) has won a reprieve on the threat of a blackout on its 500,000 smartphone users in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), just days before security agencies were due to enforce a ban on email, messaging and web browsing on the devices.

After months of standoff between the Gulf and Canada, the UAE telecommunications regulator has said that RIM had brought its devices into line with strict local jurisdictions on security and encryption. Although the details of the compromise are unknown, RIM is thought to have granted some access to communications passed between devices to the UAE government, though there is no confirmation of this from either side.

RIM has publicly maintained a defiant position, insisting that there would be no changes in the security measures given to its Enterprise customers, who are usually private companies and public bodies granted a greater level of encryption on communication than individual customers.

The Telecommunications Regulatory Authority on Friday said: All Blackberry services in the UAE will continue to operate as normal and no suspension of service will occur .

A university professor in UAE, who wishes to remain anonymous, told the Guardian: The general opinion amongst the business expat community, westerners at least, has been for some time now that [the ban] wasn't going to happen. Call it a failure of imagination on their part, but no one could conceive of how the country could do something so counterproductive to the image they are trying to present primarily to the west.

Was it posturing? To some extent. The tradition of haggling here is an art form, the performance-value a joy in itself. That attitude certainly informed the government position vis-a-vis RIM – gamesmanship, brinksmanship, it's what people do here. And, frankly, those making the decisions had little to lose, personally.

 

7th October   

Censorial.ly...

Libya revokes domain of vb.ly link shortening service
Link Here

violet blue vbly The Libyan government has removed an adult-friendly link-shortening service from the web, saying that it fell foul of local laws.

It could have an impact on similar services registered in Libya.

The website vb.ly was revoked and the site taken offline by NIC.ly, the body that controls Libyan web addresses.

Co-founder of vb.ly Ben Metcalfe warned that other ly domains are being deregistered and removed without warning . We eventually discovered that the domain has been seized because the content of our website, in their opinion, fell outside of Libyan Islamic/Sharia Law.

URL shortening is a technique that allows users to significantly condense often long web addresses to more manageable and memorable links. The Libyan crackdown could come as a blow to other url shortening services such as bit.ly, which is particularly popular on Twitter where all messages have to be limited to 140 characters.

Alaeddin ElSharif from NIC.ly told vb.ly co-founder Violet Blue that a picture of her on the website had sparked the removal: I think you'll agree that a picture of a scantily clad lady with some bottle in her hand isn't what most would consider decent or family friendly.

 

7th October   

Body Paintshop...

Mariah Carey album covers in Saudi
Link Here

mariah caray in saudi Via Boing Boing comes this insight into what Mariah Carey and all her album covers look like once they've (allegedly) gone through Saudi Arabian censors.

styleite.com clearly enjoyed the rather the giggle-worthy and rudimentary photo editing skills employed in the process.

Who needs real pants when you can just spray paint them on?

 

2nd October   

Blocked Deal...

Jordan jammed Al-Jazeera World Cup broadcasts
Link Here

Jordan flag Mysterious jamming of TV broadcasts of the summer's World Cup by the Arabic satellite channel al-Jazeera has been traced to Jordan, which appears to have retaliated angrily after the collapse of a deal that would have allowed football fans there free access to the matches.

Millions of al-Jazeera Sports subscribers across the Middle East and North Africa cried foul on 12 June when the opening game between South Africa and Mexico was hit by interference which produced blank screens, pixelated images and commentary in the wrong languages. It occurred seven more times during the tournament's biggest games.

Al-Jazeera protested that the jamming of the Nilesat and Arabsat satellites was an act of sabotage .

Scret documents seen exclusively by the Guardian trace five episodes of jamming definitively to a location near as-Salt in Jordan, north-east of the capital, Amman, confirmed by technical teams using geolocation technology.

Experts say the jamming was unlikely to have been done without the knowledge of the Jordanian authorities. It was a very sophisticated case, said one. Jamming involves the transmission of radio or TV signals that disrupt the original signal to prevent reception on the ground. It is illegal under international treaties.

Al-Jazeera had exclusive pay-TV rights to broadcast World Cup matches to all Arab and North African countries, and to Iran, and charged up to Ł100 for one-month subscription packages or cards to see the feed.