A Turkish cartoonist will be put on trial for a caricature he drew in which he renounced god, daily Haberturkreported .
The Istanbul chief public prosecutor's office charged cartoonist Bahadir Baruter with insulting the religious values
adopted by a part of the population and requested his imprisonment for up to one year.
Baruter's caricature depicted an imam and believers praying in a mosque. One of the characters is talking to God on his cellphone and asking to be pardoned from
the last part of the prayer because he has errands to run.
Within the circled wall decorations of the mosque, Baruter hid the words, There is no Allah, religion is a lie.
The cartoon was published in the weekly Penguen humor
Turkish Religous Affairs and Foundation Members' Union and some citizens filed complaints against Baruter.
Saudi Arabia, an oil rich dictatorship, has moved to censor a Canadian television ad that educates Canadian consumers about the oppression of women in Saudi Arabia and the role played by Saudi oil exports in enabling this oppression.
is a brazen act of domestic political interference by a foreign dictatorship that neither understands nor respects the rights of women or freedom of speech, said Alykhan Velshi, executive director of EthicalOil.org, a grassroots advocacy organization
that educates consumers about their choice between ethical oil from Canada's oil sands and conflict oil from dictatorships like Saudi Arabia.
Telecaster Services from the advertising review and clearance service, notified EthicalOil.org that it
had received a cease and desist letter from lawyers for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia demanding that approval for EthicalOil.org's ad be withdrawn.
Telecaster Services had approved the ethical oil spot on August 18, 2011 and the ad subsequently ran
and completed its run of schedule on the Oprah Winfrey Network (Canada).
In response to the Saudi dictatorship's move, EthicalOil.org is taking the following actions:
The ad has been put back on the air. Starting today the Sun News Network is airing the spot.
EthicalOil.org has written to the Saudi Arabian Ambassador in Canada, informing him the ad has been put back on the air and challenging
him to a televised debate about the ad and its contents.
EthicalOil.org has alerted Foreign Minister John Baird and Dean Allison, Chairman of the House of Commons Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade about the
incident in writing, calling on the government and the parliamentary committee to investigate a foreign dictatorship trying to censor what Canadians can and cannot see on their televisions.
One broadcaster has now caved to legal threats this week and won't run the Ethical Oil advert. But Sun News Network continues to run the ad because it
champions free speech and won't cave to threats when it comes to constitutional protections.
Canada's Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird plans to discuss with Saudi Arabian officials their attempts to stop Canadian broadcasters from airing an
advertisement that depicts desert oil as unethical, QMI Agency has learned. Baird's spokesman Chris Day said:
We are proud that unlike many countries, the press and third-party organizations are free to speak their
minds in reporting and advertising in our country and we will defend their right to do so,
Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver said the Saudis should respect rights protected in the Constitution:
Freedom of speech is a core Canadian value and I don't think that Canadians appreciate a foreign country attempting to limit that freedom.
Immigration Minister Jason Kenney added that:
Canada doesn't take kindly to foreign governments threatening directly or indirectly Canadian broadcasters or media for giving voice to freedom of
Dr. Michael Nabil Sanad, the 26-year-old blogger jailed by an Egyptian military court, could die soon in prison, says his family and human rights groups.
Reporters Without Borders (RWB) called on the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) to
immediately release Michael. According to RWB If he does not resume drinking, he could very soon die in detention and SCAF would have to take full responsibility.
After visiting his brother today at El-Marg prison, Mark Sanad said Michael's
health, after 28-days of a hunger strike, has become critical. He is unable to leave bed. When he stands up he loses his vision. He has lost 12 KG and weighs 48 KG now.
Blogger Michael Sanad went on hunger strike to protest his prison
sentence, as well as his anger that other bloggers who were in his situation, such as Asma Mahfouz and Loay Najati, were pardoned by the military council. He was to three-years in prison sentence by a military court on April 10, for entries on his blog
criticizing the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF). He was accused of insulting the military establishment and spreading false information about it. However, according to SCAF press release number 68, military trials are limited to crimes of
rape, thuggery and assaulting security personnel.
On Monday, September 19, Michael's supporters held a march from Tahrir Square to the Council of Ministers calling for his freedom and demanding an end to military trials of civilians.
Sanad said that Michael is refusing to go into the prison infirmary because prison authorities refuse to state the reason for his hunger, thirst and medications strike in their reports. Mark also said the authorities are pressuring Michael to call off
his strike as this is damaging the image of a respected Egyptian symbol (SCAF).
According to the letter sent by Michael and published on his official campaign page on facebook Free Michael Nabil which has 23,000 members, he exposed the
prison authorities of lying to his visitors including his family that he does not wish to see them while I would have loved to see them and needed their visits, he wrote.
Mark Sanad said that his brother's appeal is scheduled for October 4,
this would be the 42nd day in Michael's hunger strike. But Michael will not live until then.
Nabil Sanad, Michael's father, who has sent seven appeals to SCAF to pardon his son, without a single reply, said should his son die, it would be a
crime against humanity. I will hold the prison authorities, the interior minister and SCAF responsible for his death. I will file a case in the Egyptian Courts and if I get no justice, I will take them to the International Court of Justice.
Reporters Without Borders welcomes blogger Maikel Nabil Sanad's release late yesterday under an amnesty announced on 21 January for around 2,000 civilians who had been convicted by military courts during the past year. Sanad, who had been
detained for 10 months on a charge of insulting the armed forces, was freed from Cairo's Tora prison.
The release of Sanad, the post-Mubarak era's first prisoner of conscience, is wonderful news for both his family and for all those who
campaigned on his behalf, Reporters Without Borders said: His release is timely, coming on the eve of the Egyptian revolution's first anniversary. His only crime was to exercise the fundamental right to free expression, a right often flouted by
the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces since the revolution.
The justice system must now overturn his conviction and declare him innocent. The relevant authorities must also be held accountable for his mistreatment and the harassment of
his relatives. We will continue to monitor the situation in Egypt closely. On this very symbolic date, 25 January, we urge the authorities to stop using violence and judicial abuse to suppress all forms of criticism and to end the repeated arrests,
interrogations and harassment of bloggers, netizens and journalists who criticize the Supreme Council's record.
French satellite operator Eutelsat has said it had no right to turn off a Syrian television station that is broadcasting audio messages by ousted Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi.
Gaddafi, whose whereabouts are unknown, has defiantly spoken several
times on Syria-based Arrai TV since losing control of Tripoli on Aug. 23, calling on his supporters to continue their resistance to the new authorities.
Eutel, the world's third-largest satellite operator, said earlier it was in contact with local
distributor Noorsat to see whether Noorsat could stop transmitting Arrai and sister channel al-Oruba, which has also give Gaddafi a platform to speak.
We talked to Noorsat and Noorsat removed al-Oruba, Eutelsat spokeswoman Vanessa O'Connor
said. That was their decision and their action. Arrai is still broadcasting and as things stand at the moment we have taken it as far as we can. O'Connor added that Eutelsat did not judge or censor content and it was not up to it to make the
decision to stop transmissions.
Egypt's Information Ministry has launched a campaign with the Interior Ministry's censorship department to reconsider the permits of 16 satellite channels broadcasting from Egypt.
Informed sources told Al-Masry Al-Youm that the office of Al
Jazeera Mubasher Misr, which began transmission following the ousting of former President Hosni Mubarak in February, was raided by Egyptian authorities.
Information Minister Osama Heikal announced that the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces and
the cabinet decided after a joint meeting that day to temporarily suspend granting new permits to satellite channels. They also decided to prosecute satellite channels deemed threatening to the stability of the country.
organizations meanwhile condemned the decision, saying it is a regression to the oppressive policies of Mubarak's regime.
The Iranian newspaper Shahrvand-e-Emrooz has been shut down after mocking President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's relationship with wise man Esfandiar Rahim Mashaei
The cover picture was a photoshopped to look like a 16th-century Persian miniature.
The wise man is lecturing his companions who kneel dutifully in front of him.
All the characters are in fact modern-day Iranians. Indeed, the wise man is none other than Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's confidant, Esfandiar Rahim Mashaei. And in an obvious
satire of the country's political leaders, it is Mashaei who counts the president among his obedient followers -- not the other way round.
The picture highlights the concerns among Iranian conservatives over Mashaei's growing political influence.
Supporters of the supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, believe that Mashaei, whose daughter is married to the president's son, is attempting to undermine clerical power in Iran.
It is widely believed the picture was the reason behind the
enforced closure of the magazine on Monda. Another publication, Roozegar, was also closed.
The Syrian political cartoonist Ali Ferzat, an outspoken advocate for human rights, was attacked and his hands broken by masked thugs.
The US State Department criticised the assault as a targeted, brutal attack and demanded that the regime
of president Bashar al-Assad stop its campaign of terror through torture, illegal imprisonment, and murder .
The regime's thugs focused their attention on Ferzat's hands, beating them furiously and breaking one of them, a clear message
that he should stop drawing, said US Department of State spokeswoman Victoria Nuland in a statement. He was then reportedly dumped on the side of a road in Damascus, where passers-by stopped and took him to a Damascus hospital.
is one of the country's most popular cartoonists, and has become an even more beloved figure during the country's recent uprisings. At the start of the new presidency, he was allowed to publish a satirical magazine called The Lamplighter , which
sold out just hours after hitting newsstands. But when Assad began jailing critics of his regime, the publication was soon shut down. Though Ferzat's work has now been banned in local newspapers, the artist continued to post his illustrations on his
private website. Recently he had become bolder and started taking jabs at Assad himself (under Syrian law, caricatures of the president are illegal), with a cartoon depicting Assad, his bags packed, hitching a ride with deposed Libyan dictator Muammar
Israel's Culture and Sports Minister, Limor Livnat, has asked Israel Film Council Chairman Nissim Abouloff to hold off on a decision to restrict the award-winning Israeli film Hashoter (The Policeman) to viewers 18 and above.
written and directed by Nadav Lapid, won the special jury prize at the Locarno Film Festival and three awards at the Jerusalem Film Festival.
It's not clear how the council reached its decision, since the movie does not contain violence or
sexually explicit scenes. The decision was handed down last week, without an explanation backing up the ruling.
This is an absurd decision and the censorship is political, Lapid said.
The Israel Film Council falls under the Culture
and Sports Ministry. Its decisions are not based on clear criteria or permanent rules; this apparently led Livnat, when she took office in 2009, to seek to stop the council's work in its present form.
According to the culture minister's media
adviser, the council has held a number of meetings on the film. Another meeting has been scheduled for next week to study whether to disband the council or set clear criteria for its decisions. This was a pledge the minister made when she came into
office, and she intends to keep it, Livnat's office said.
Lapid said the council's decision represents:
the highest form of censorship that can be handed down. Eighteen-year-olds in Israel are able to
go into the army, engage in combat, kill and be killed, as well as vote in elections. Israeli girls and boys of 16 are able to visit Poland and deal with scenes of the concentration camps, on trips organized by the Education Ministry. But the critical
view of life in Israel as portrayed by Hashoter, its wrestling with the regime and the wealthy, its view of the place of a policeman, a combatant, apparently constitutes a threat to the censorship people.
producer, Itai Tamir, added:
Anyone for whom freedom of speech in Israel is important should be alarmed by the lightness with which the censorship officials decide which viewpoints are worthy to appear on the
screen in front of everyone and which are not appropriate.
In the past week, Tehran Police Special Operations forces came together with plainclothes forces and, as part of a continuing operation, raided homes in Tehran's Saadat Abad neighborhood and collected satellite dishes.
During the raid,
forces tried to intimidate and frighten the neighborhood residents and attempted to destroy satellite dishes on people's roofs, a neighborhood resident told the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran. Police commandos used ropes to climb
onto balconies and enter people's private homes.
Plainclothes forces also recorded videos and took photographs of the raids.
During the past two years, along with newspaper bans and the active role of the Revolutionary Guard in jamming
satellite news programs, raiding people's homes has comprised another component of the Iranian government's policy of depriving Iranians from learning about news and world events.
During several of his interviews with foreign media, Mahmoud
Ahmadinejad has stated that the use of satellite equipment is legal in Iran. The Iranian government, however, continues to use different tools for limiting freedom of expression including preventing people from having access to satellite
The Palestinian attorney general has ordered a popular television satire off the air, sources at Palestine Television told AFP.
The program, known in Arabic as Watan al Watar ( Nation hanging by a Thread ), was censored under an
order citing complaints [from officials rather than viewers] about its skewering of everyone from doctors to police officials, the sources said.
One Palestine Television official said the order accused the program of crossing red lines and
inappropriately criticising public figures.
The decision... followed complaints from the president of the anti-corruption commission Rafik Natsheh, the head of the doctors' union, and the director of the Palestinian police, the source
quoted the order as saying.
Imad Farajin, a co-creator of the show which has been running since 2009, criticised the order as a blow to Palestinian democracy. This decision violates national rights which are protected by law and the
Yasser Abed Rabbo, who is secretary general of the Palestine Liberation Organisation and also serves on the board of Palestine TV, condemned the order, warning it laid the groundwork for censorship and stifling of freedoms. He
said the station would abide by the order in the short-term, but pledged that it would be challenged before the courts: This decision sets a dangerous precedent in the history of the Palestinian National Authority.
Turkey's repressive Internet blocking plan, which has drawn criticisms from rights groups, the European Union and web users in Turkey, will come into force Monday.
Based on the Rules and Procedures for the Safety of Internet Use regulation
approved by the Prime Ministry's Information and Communication Technologies Authority, or BTK, in February, Internet users in Turkey will be given the option of signing up for one of two Internet packages: family or children. The list of websites
filtered by each package will be decided by the BTK, but will not be made public.
According to the BTK, those who decide against using a filter will be able to continue accessing the Internet normally. However, the new plan also a very nasty sting
in its tail. Accessing the BTK's banned sites, according to the plan, will be considered a criminal offense, and service providers will be responsible for reporting people who attempt to access the banned sites. Otherwise, they themselves will be charged
with heavy financial penalties.
BTK Chairman Tayfun Acarer claimed the new plan will be launched to protect the youth and children from accessing dangerous and obscene content on the Internet.
A commission of 11 people,
determined by the Family and Social Policies Ministry, will determine the block lists. However, no criteria have been defined by the BTK as to how the blacklist will be determined. The commission doesn't include any legal experts or news media or
communication experts, NTVMSNBC technology editor Noyan Ayan told the Hu rriyet Daily News. Plus we still do not know who determines how and what sites will be banned. Experts say that Turkey's new Internet cyber censorship system is
similar to the one used in China.
Iranian book censors have refused a publishing house permission to reprint an edition of one of the country's best-known classical epic poems.
The Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance decided that some parts of the epic poem Khosrow and
Shirin by Nezami Ganjavi needed reworking, despite the fact that the book-length masterpiece has been a classic of Iranian literature for 831 years.
The news not only astounded the publishing house, it also shocked Iran's intellectual class,
despite decades of inurement to the censors' heavy hand.
The Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance has given no official explanation for its decision to belatedly censor the epic. But one objection reportedly concerns the poem's reference to
the heroine Shirin embracing a male body.
If the embrace is indeed the reason for the censorship, it would be in line with decades of similar objections by Iran's censors to anything they construe as indecent. According to their guidelines,
indecency can come in a million unexpected forms.
Faraj Sarkouhi, who edited the Iranian cultural weekly Adineh before he was imprisoned for propaganda in the 1990s and fled to Germany following his release, says that Iran's censors
are obsessed with the idea that romance can be a corruptive force in society. They make Iran a hell for literature, without regard to whether it is contemporary or classical.
Sarkouhi notes that the dialogue in a recent Iranian version of one of
the novels of German-Swiss author Hermann Hesse was altered so that a reference to wine instead became a reference to coffee. Similarly, if a man and a woman who are not married are in love, the censors feel no compunctions about adding a paragraph to
marry them and legalize their situation.
A Turkish court has sentenced the trigger-man in the 2007 murder of International Press Institute (IPI) World Press Freedom Hero Hrant Dink to almost 23 years in prison.
A juvenile court in Istanbul imposed nearly the maximum sentence on
ultranationalist Ogun Samast, who was 17 at the time of Dink's killing, after convicting him of premeditated murder and carrying an unlicensed gun Samast gunned down Dink, the editor-in-chief of Armenian-Turkish newspaper Agos, in broad daylight outside
of Dink's office in Istanbul.
Dink had received numerous death threats from Turkish nationalists who viewed his journalism as treacherous. He had also faced legal problems for denigrating Turkishness under Article 301 of the Turkish Penal Code in
his articles about the massacre of Armenians during the First World War.
IPI Director Alison Bethel McKenzie said: We welcome the conviction and sentence of Mr. Dink's murderer, and we hope it brings a measure of closure to his family.
Nevertheless, we call on Turkish authorities to hold all those involved in this heinous crime accountable, from those who facilitated it to the masterminds who ordered it.
A hearing is currently scheduled this Friday in the trial of 18 other
defendants charged with involvement in the murder. Their cases were separated from the case against Samast due to his age at the time of the slaying.
A court in Turkey has sentenced a man to life in prison
for instigating the 2007 killing of prominent Turkish-Armenian journalist Hrant Dink.
The judge sentenced Yasin Hayal to life but acquitted 19 others of a charge of being part of a terrorist group. His teenage killer, Ogun Samast, was jailed for
22 years last year.
After the verdict, a crowd of about 500 people including members of Dink's family marched to the spot where he was shot dead to protest at what they said was state collusion.
Dink's supporters say they have uncovered
evidence that suggests involvement by state officials and police in his murder. But, they say, repeated requests to have those officials investigated have been ignored, and in some cases important evidence has been destroyed.
The Saudi authorities have drafted new censorship in the name of terrorism legislation that makes political dissent a criminal offence and would enable the government to jail anyone who questioned the integrity of the King or Crown Prince for a minimum
of 10 years.
A draft copy smuggled from the kingdom and obtained by Amnesty International shows that the definition of terrorist crimes under the proposed new law is so broad as to enable the authorities to detain anybody for as long as
they want on such wide-ranging charges as endangering... national unity or harming the reputation of the state or its position .
The Draconian draft legislation is a sign of the deep sense of threat felt by King Abdullah and the
Saudi royal family because of the Arab Spring pro-democracy movement, the emergence of a Shia Iraq in the aftermath of the US invasion, and the collapse of the status quo across the Arab world.
This draft law poses a serious threat to freedom
of expression in the kingdom in the name of preventing terrorism, says Amnesty International's Middle East and North Africa deputy director Philip Luther: If passed it would pave the way for even the smallest acts of peaceful dissent to be branded
Access to Amnesty International's website has been blocked in Saudi Arabia today following the organization's criticism of a draft anti-terror law that would stifle peaceful protest in the kingdom.
Amnesty International published its analysis
of a leaked copy of the draft law. The organization condemned the proposed law's treatment of peaceful dissent as terrorist crimes , as well as the wide-ranging powers the Minister of Interior would hold, free from judicial authorization or
Instead of attacking those raising concerns and attempting to block debate, the Saudi Arabian government should amend the draft law to ensure that it does not muzzle dissent and deny basic rights, said Malcolm Smart, Amnesty
International's Middle East and North Africa Director.
The Israeli parliament is preparing to pass a law that would in effect ban citizens from calling for academic, consumer or cultural boycotts of Israel in a move that has been denounced by its opponents as anti-democratic.
The boycott bill is
expected to win majority backing, despite strong opposition. Under its terms, any individual or organisation proposing a boycott could be sued for compensation by any individual or institution claiming that it could be damaged by such a call. Proof of
actual damage would not be required.
As debate on the bill opened in the Knesset, the Israeli parliament's legal adviser presented an opinion that parts of the proposed law were borderline illegal . The broad definition of a boycott on
the state of Israel is a violation of the core tenet of freedom of political expression and elements in the proposed bill are borderline illegal, Eyal Yinon said.
Among the bill's opponents are dozens of Israeli intellectuals, including the
celebrated author Amos Oz, who described the proposed law as the worst of the anti-democratic bills in the Knesset. The bill will turn law-abiding citizens into criminals.
According to the Association of Civil Rights in Israel, the bill
constitutes a direct violation of freedom of expression . Its executive director, Hagai El-Ad, said: The boycott bill represents the current unfortunate crest in a wave of anti-democratic legislation that is gradually drowning Israel's
If the boycott bill becomes law, it is expected that it will be challenged in court.
Offsite Comment: A Grave Threat to Free Expression
The Law for Prevention of Damage to the State of Israel through Boycott, was approved on 11th July by a majority of 47 to 38 Members of the Israeli parliament, the Knesset.
The law prohibits the public promotion of boycott by Israeli
citizens and organisations, and, in some cases, agreement to participate in a boycott. It forbids not only a boycott of Israeli institutions but also of the illegal Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territory.
In private law, the law
defines boycott as a new type of civil wrong or tort. It will enable settlers or other parties targeted by boycotts to sue anyone who calls for boycott, and the court may award compensation including punitive damages, even if no actual damage is caused
to the boycotted parties. For example, if an Israeli actor publicly calls on others not to perform in a theatre in the Israeli settlement of Ariel, the theatre can sue that actor for a minimum sum of ?5,000 in damages, which can be awarded even if no
such damage was caused.
In public law, the law will revoke tax exemptions and other legal rights and benefits from Israeli organisations and charities, as well as academic, cultural and scientific institutions which receive any state support, if
they engage in boycott.
About 100 journalists have protested in the Yemen capital against harassment and censorship by authorities.
The protest was held outside the Sana'a residence of the vice-president, Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi, who is acting head of state while the
president, Ali Abdullah Saleh, is in Saudi Arabia recuperating from wounds he sustained in an attack on his compound.
The demonstration is part of wider anti-government protests that have been going on for more than four months, demanding an end
to Saleh's rule.
One newspaper editor, Osama Ghaleb of al-Nass, said he was forced to distribute the daily to other provinces in banana boxes to ensure the copies would not be confiscated by security. But unfortunately this method has now been
exposed, he said.
The Centre for Rehabilitation and Protection of Freedom of Press in Yemen has documented 465 cases of harassment of journalists in the past six months, which include threats, aggression, and detention. Calls by journalists to
meet with the vice-president have gone unheeded, according to the head of Yemen's journalists' syndicate, Marwan Damaj.
Iran has stepped up online censorship by upgrading the system that enables the Islamic regime to block access to millions of websites it deems inappropriate for Iranian users.
The move comes one month after the United States announced plans to
launch new services facilitating internet access and mobile phone communications in countries with tight controls on freedom of speech, a decision that infuriated Tehran's regime and prompted harsh reactions from several Iranian officials.
the blocking, many Iranians access banned addresses with help from proxy websites or virtual private network (VPN) services. The upgrade is aimed at stopping users bypassing censorship.
More than 5 million websites are filtered in Iran. Media
organisations including the Guardian, BBC and CNN are blocked. On Google, the Farsi equivalents for words such as condom , sex , lesbian and anti-filtering are filtered out.
Iran is believed to be worried about the
influence of the internet and especially social networking websites as pro-democracy activists across the Middle East use them to promote and publicise their movements.
In April, the Tehran government announced that it intended to launch halal
internet , a country-wide intranet and a parallel network that conforms to Islamic values with the ultimate goal of substituting for the global internet.
Iran's opposition believe that Iran is buying its filtering technology from China.
The reinstatement of Egypt's Information Ministry that was abolished in February constitutes a substantial setback for media freedom in Egypt, the Committee to Protect Journalists has said.
The ministry and the post of information minister were
scrapped in February, just days after the ouster of Hosni Mubarak. Doing away with the ministry, viewed by many journalists and press freedom advocates as the propaganda arm of Mubarak's regime, was a key demand of members of the 18-day revolution that
took place in January and February.
Reinstating the Ministry of Information is an unambiguous setback for media freedom in Egypt, said CPJ Middle East and North Africa Program Coordinator Mohamed Abdel Dayem: A government body whose
primary function was to enforce media orthodoxy and punish dissent during decades of authoritarian rule is not a suitable entity to reform the media sector.
In response to months of protests by Libyans living in Egypt, the authorities in Cairo on 11 July ordered Egypt's state-owned operator Nilesat to pull the plug on Libyan state TV satellite broadcasts to the Middle East and North Africa.
Egyptian court ruled that Nilesat should take 16 Libyan satellite channels off the air, the official MENA news agency reported. The barred channels carry sports and variety programming as well as news, current affairs and talk shows.
followed lawsuits filed by Libyan citizens and Egyptian lawyers who complained that Libyan leader Muammar al-Gaddafi was using Libya's state TV channels to incite violence against rebels fighting to overthrow him. The complainants also accused the
channels of false reporting.
For aficionados of the Beat writers, an obscenity trial in Turkey is a throwback to half a century ago, when Naked Lunch was banned in Boston.
The Turkish publisher and translator of
William S. Burroughs' The Soft Machine are facing prison terms of six months to three years for allegedly violating a Turkish law against the publication and writing of pornography. Their trial, which opened in Istanbul on July 6, is the first in
Turkey to target the work of a Beat Generation writer.
First published in 1961, The Soft Machine is a classic Burroughs drug-addled narrative, relating the time-travel journey of a secret agent battling with Mayan
priests using mind control to direct slaves to harvest maize. The work uses an anti-establishment broken literary form called the cut-up method. The book also details Burroughs' own struggle with drug addiction, which is presented as a form of
An official report from the Board for the Protection of Minors from Obscene Publications, a Turkish government body, found that The Soft Machine, translated as Yumus,ak Makine, was not compatible with
the morals of society and the people's honor, was injurious to sexuality and seen to be generally repugnant. Similar rhetoric was used in the United States decades ago to thwart the American publication of Burroughs' most famous work,
Naked Lunch, which was published in Paris in 1959, but did not make its debut on the other side of the Atlantic until 1962.
Under Turkey's Press Law, translators and publishers of books are considered as accountable as
a writer for the content of published materials. Members of university Turkish literature departments have been enlisted by authorities to read The Soft Machine in order to help Istanbul's Second Penal Court determine if Burroughs' work qualifies as
pornography or literature. The trial, expected to last a year, will reconvene on October 11.
Another censorship controversy erupts in Turkey after a magazine is deemed a threat to social norms.
The magazine is off the news stands now, following a steep fine. [Ozgur Ogret]
Harakiri, a monthly comic, literature and caricature
magazine in Turkey, shut itself down before releasing its third issue, stating that a government fine had made continued publication impossible.
The Prime Minister's Board for Protecting the Youth from Obscene Publications, a government organ for
reviewing print press, ruled that the magazine's content -- going back to its first issue -- was harmful to minors. It fined the magazine about 65,000 euros and ordered it to be sold in a black bag.
The board accused the magazine of encouraging
the youth to laziness, adventurousness and relations outside of wedlock .
The decision has set off another widespread debate over censorship in Turkey.