An Iraqi press freedom group has condemned the country's authorities for ordering the closure of 44 news organisations, including a US-funded radio station. The authorities have not yet enacted the closures but critics say the Iraqi prime
minister, Nouri al-Maliki, is sending a warning to the media.
Ziyad al-Aajely, the head of the Journalistic Freedoms Observatory, called the move to shut down media offices:
A setback to the freedom of journalism in Iraq. It is a government message to the media outlets that if you are not with us, then you are against us.
Most of the 44 newspapers, radio and television stations targeted for shutdown are Iraqi, although foreign broadcasters including the BBC and Voice of America are on the list as well as the US-funded Radio Sawa. The BBC and Voice of America have
closed most permanent news operations in Iraq.
While some of the news organisations are critical of the government, including Sarqiya and Baghdadia television stations, others are religious broadcasters and have no apparent political agenda.
A teenage Bahraini blogger has been remanded in custody for 45 days for supposedly blasphemous remarks on an internet forum.
He was accused of posting abusive remarks targeting the religious character of Aisha, the very young wife of Mohammad.
Ali Al Buainain, the public prosecutor, said that the defendant had a history of using a specific forum to post blasphemous remarks and whenever he was ejected, he registered under a different pseudonym and continued publishing unacceptable
News of the blogger's arrest prompted several religious groups to push for the introduction of more extreme punishment for people who targeted Islamic icons. Khalid Al Malood, a lawmaker in the lower chamber, said:
The competent authorities should apply the maximum penalty against him to ensure there is no repeat of attacks on the Prophet or his family or companions, We need to ensure that our society is genuinely protected from any form of sedition
and this can be done by carrying out the maximum penalty.
The Syrian regime has gone to great lengths to silence the satirical commentary of Ali Ferzat. But the celebrated cartoonist and Index award winner has no intention of letting the censors keep him down.
Israeli lawmaker Nissim Zeev (Shas) has submitted a bill that would mandate one-year prison terms for anyone who strips naked in public for commercial or artistic purposes.
Dubbed the Spencer Tunick bill, after the American photographer who staged a nude photo shoot last September at the Dead Sea, the bill would make public nudity illegal except in certain areas designated for nude bathing.
Last year, Zeev led the effort to prevent Tunick's photo shoot, in which over 1,000 Israelis participated, from taking place. At the time, Zeev called the photo shoot an act of prostitution in the guise of art and warned that it would
corrupt the morals of Israeli youth. After failing to foil the event, Zeev pledged to head off similar events in the future through legislative means.
The Ministerial Committee for Legislation is expected to decide on Sunday whether or not the government will support the bill.
Nutters are pushing for internet porn to be blocked in Jordan. The Pink Cross Foundation, Girls Against Porn & Human Trafficking, & Cedars Cultural and Educational Foundation are lobbying the Jordanian government. In addition about 32,000
Facebook users have added their name to petition.
The Jordanian Ministry of Communications, Information & Technology has also voiced support for internet censorship.
Kuwait's Ameer, Sheikh Sabah al Ahmad al Sabah, has refused to sign a bill passed by parliament stipulating the death penalty for major religious offences.
The government has sent the bill back to parliament indicating that it had been rejected by the Ameer.
The Ameer has the power to refuse bills passed by the elected parliament, but the assembly can override the rejection by passing the bill again with a two-thirds majority of the house membership of 49 MPs and 16 cabinet ministers.
The bill, passed by parliament last month, stipulates that Muslims who curse the Koran, or the religious characters, God, Mohammed, prophets or Mohammed's wives.
The bill introduced two new laws specifically to introduce extreme penalties for such offences. Non-Muslims who commit the same offence face extreme jail terms of not less than 10 years, according to the bill.
A Kuwaiti man has been sentenced to 10 years in prison after he was convicted of supposedly endangering state security by insulting the religious character Mohammad and the Sunni Muslim rulers of Saudi Arabia and Bahrain on social media.
Shi'ite Muslim Hamad al-Naqi pleaded not guilty at the start of the trial last month. The written verdict found Naqi guilty of all charges, a court secretary told Reuters.
The sentence was the maximum that Naqi could have received, his lawyer Khaled al-Shatti said. But an appeal could be possible.
The judge found him guilty of supposedly insulting Mohammed, his wife and companions, mocking Islam, provoking sectarian tensions, insulting the rulers of Saudi Arabia and Bahrain and using his mobile phone to spread the comments.
The civil plaintiff arguing the case against Naqi, had called for Naqi to be executed reflecting the bloodlust of politicians and religious extremists. This verdict is a deterrent to those who insult the Prophet Mohammad, his companions and
the mothers of the believers, civil plaintiff Dowaem al-Mowazry said in a text message. He had argued in court that Naqi must be made an example of.
A Turkish prosecutor has proposed charging an internationally known Turkish pianist and composer with insulting Islamic religious values in comments he made on Twitter.
An Istanbul court will decide whether to accept the proposed indictment against Fazil Say, who has played piano with the New York Philharmonic, Berliner Symphoniker, Israel Philharmonic, Orchestre National de France, and Tokyo Symphony.
The prosecutor accuses the pianist of supposedly inciting hatred and public enmity, and insulting religious values. The charges result from some supposed mocking of Islamic beliefs about paradise.
A Turkish court has now formally charged an internationally known pianist and composer with insulting Islamic religious values in comments he made on Twitter.
The court in Istanbul voted to approve an indictment against Fazil Say. He will now face charges of inciting hatred and public enmity, and insulting religious values.
Meltem Akyol, a lawyer for Say, said the pianist has denied the charges. The trial will be held on Oct. 18, she said.
Akyol said Say's supposedly insulting tweets and retweets on social media cannot be considered as public remarks because only people who follow him can see them.
In one tweet cited in the indictment, Say said:
What if there is raki (traditional anisette drink) in paradise but not in hell, while there is Chivas Regal (scotch) in hell and not in paradise? What will happen then? This is the most important question!!
Islam forbids alcohol and many Islamists might consider such remarks unacceptable. In one of the pianist's retweets, one excerpt questioned whether paradise was a brothel? according to the indictment.
Reporters Without Borders condemns the raid carried out by the Egyptian police on the Iranian Arabic-language satellite TV station Al-Alam.
The press freedom organization said.
The Egyptian authorities seized the station's equipment and issued a warrant for the arrest of the bureau's director, Ahmed Sioufi, on the grounds that Al-Alam did not have the necessary operating licences. However, the station had made numerous
licence applications in recent years without success.
The Egyptian authorities appear reluctant to grant licences to certain media organizations so they can take punitive action against those that displease them at their discretion. Even if it was carried out legally, this raid qualifies as
The Egyptian authorities must abandon such practices and give a clear and reasoned response to media organizations that apply for licences. We also demand the return of the seized equipment and the dropping of all proceedings against employees
of the station.
The police had a warrant for the arrest of Ahmed Sioufi, who was reported to have gone on hunger strike in the face of what he considered to be a gag attempt . Since the raid was carried out, security forces are reported to have surrounded
the station's Cairo premises and threatened anyone trying to enter or leave with arrest.
The raid on Al-Alam appears to be part of a broader picture. The station is a propaganda organ of Iran and is a bitter critic of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, which has been running Egypt since the fall of President Hosni Mubarak,
regularly accusing it of perpetuating the repressive practices of the former regime.
Iran has reportedly banned domestic companies from using foreign email services and hosting providers, as its attempts to create an autonomous, nationwide intranet gather pace.
Local weekly Asr Ertebatat claimed that Iran's telecommunications ministry is preventing banks, insurance firms and telephone operators from using the services of foreign email providers such as Yahoo!, Gmail and Microsoft. The ministry has also
banned the firms from using foreign hosts for their sites.
The companies, and perhaps more importantly, any customer or client wishing to communicate with them must do so with an email address ending in iran.ir , post.ir or chmail.ir .
Telecommunications minister Reza Taghipour said disconnecting key ministries would make sure their information won't be accessible to the one or two countries hostile to Iran.
However the plans certainly seem to be on a constantly-sliding window: if an April report was accurate, the cutoff was due to happen this month. Now, Iran's telling The Telegraph its timetable is over the next 18 months.
Arabic Network For Human Rights Information (ANHRI) condemns the sentence of 10 years in jail and a fine of 1000 Kuwaiti Dinars handed to Lawrence al-Rashidi, a Kuwaiti blogger, on charges of insulting the Prince and his powers in poems
uploaded on YouTube . ANHRI considers this ruling as evidence that freedom of expression in Kuwait has reached a new low.
The case began in June 2011, when the general prosecution accused al-Rashidi of spreading false news and rumors about the situation in the country , uploading visual and audio recordings prepared by him on YouTube , calling for
the demolition of values and ethics , and calling on tribes to appoint a Prince of the country, demonstrate, confront the ruling regime, and bring down its transgressions . Al-Rashidi is also being tried because of his posts on
Twitter, deemed by the authorities as an insult to the princely identity .
We are deeply disturbed over this cruel and shocking ruling. The campaign launched against activists in Kuwait is escalating. The Kuwaiti government is detaining bloggers and activists because they express their opinion on the Internet and use
it in their discussions and exchange of information, said ANHRI.
Egypt's vice police have arrested the owner of a belly dancing TV station on on grounds of supposedly inciting licentiousness and facilitating prostitution.
The station, ElTet, broadcasts videos 24 hours a day of scantily clad belly dancers giving sultry performances. Available on satellite TV, the station has gained a following, in part because it shows an Egyptian art form that has grown
increasingly inaccessible for many people in the country, having been largely relegated to expensive clubs and hotels as a consequence of increasing religious extremism.
The police raided an apartment where the station's owner, Baligh Hamdy, had been running the operations and recording most of the videos, a police official said. apes and video equipment was seized in the raid.
The official said Hamdy would record the videos and send them over the Internet to his partners in Bahrain and Jordan, who would in turn broadcast them on the station's satellite TV, making it accessible in Egypt and elsewhere.
The raid was prompted by nutter complaints. The station also carries advertisements for sexual enhancement products and matchmaking messages. Theses ads seem to have triggered the complaints.
Britain has added its condemnation to the unprecedented lashing sentence against Iranian cartoonist Mahmud Shokraye.
He was sentenced to 25 lashes earlier this week over his depiction of conservative lawmaker Ahmad Lotfi Ashtiani as a football player. Ashtiani is noted for interfering in sports issues.
A British Foreign Office statement said:
Charges should never have been brought at all for this innocuous act, but it is sadly not surprising given the government has consistently shown such flagrant disregard for its citizens' rights and freedoms.
In an earlier joint statement, a dozen Iran-based websites condemned Shokraye's sentence and warned that it sets a dangerous precedent. The statement noted that drawing cartoons of politicians, including of Iranian presidents and other top
officials, is common in Iran.
An Iranian MP who brought a case against a cartoonist that resulted in a sentence of 25 lashes has withdrawn his complaint after widespread condemnation of the artist's conviction.
Mahmoud Shokraye was found guilty of insulting Ahmad Lotfi Ashtiani, MP for Arak, in a cartoon he drew of the parliamentarian in Nameye Amir, a city newspaper.
In an unprecedented punishment for an Iranian cartoonist, a media law court in Arak handed down a sentence of 25 lashes, triggering domestic and international outcry among Shokraye's colleagues and human rights organisations.
Iran's semi-official Fars news agency reported on Monday that Ashtiani had withdrawn his complaint. Experts familiar with Iranian law said it would mean the cartoonist's conviction would be quashed.
In response to the artist's sentence, cartoonists launched a campaign of drawing new caricatures of the MP, with many Iranians and their colleagues across the world contributing by posting their cartoons online. The Guardian's Martin Rowson also
contributed by drawing Ashtiani in a nappy with a lash in his mouth.
Reporters Without borders is shocked at the imposition by a Kuwaiti court of a fine of 500,000 dinars (approximately 1,360,000 euros) on the television station Scope TV for insulting a member of the royal family.
Under the guise of protecting national unity, this exorbitant and disproportionate fine is aimed at muzzling Scope TV and all media organizations that are critical of the monarchy, the press freedom organization said. It demanded that the
penalty be rescinded.
The station was ordered to pay the sum to the former information minister Sheikh Faisal Al-Malek Al-Sabah, a member of the ruling family. The court ruled that the station's director, Tallal Al-Said, a former member of parliament, had broadcast a
programme last October that it deemed offensive to the royal family.
Dalal Al-Mutairi, head of the Foreign Books Department at Kuwait's Ministry of Misinformation explained to the Kuwait Times abut book censorship in the repressive state:
Censorship laws set the basic rules to deal with right and wrong acts announced or published in the media. This is also related to books, electronic publications and games and many other things.
There are certain red lines that should not be crossed by the publishers, writers, authors and others. In order to check the application of the laws and that it's not violated, there are inspectors and censors working at the Ministry of
Information, she added.
As a censor, I read a book from beginning to the end, word by word. In case the censor makes a mistake, the head of the department will be responsible for this mistake, as they should also read the book. The time to finish censoring a book
depends on the kind of the book. For instance, a philosophical book needs about four days to read, Dalal added.
This department was set up in the year 2000. Before we were working in the censorship department that included newspapers, magazines, books and any other printed material. It was then separated into a foreign books section and an Arabic books
section. The censor in the foreign department is responsible for many different languages.
We have a list of banned books in Kuwait and we deal with publications containing forbidden material that are not on this list, and which we have to censor. The author or the distributor of this censored publication can appeal the decision
issued by the censorship department at the ministry, and then another committee will review the publication to give its decision. Usually we are not very strict with foreign books, she admitted.
According to the law, if there is a violation, the censor writes a report about it. Nobody can distribute any book unless he has a license to do so. The distributor should bring a copy of the book to our department. Sometimes we receive
complaints from people regarding some books. Then we investigate with the printing press that published and printed this book. The printing house is responsible for the material and books printed by it and they should inform the Ministry of
Information that they are printing a book, and then the book is not distributed without a license. There are some censors and inspectors from our department who inspect different printing presses to check their license, Dalal stated.
The greatest load on the department is during the Book Fair. We start censoring the books in this fair about three months before it is held. We receive about 7,000 to 8,000 books to read. There are about 15 censors working on this fair. These
censors take the books home with them to finish their reading. If we find a book containing restrictions, we write a report that is passed to a committee which decides that certain books will be banned from the fair, she highlighted.
The media or press sometimes exaggerates in describing the situation or news. Always during each Book Fair, the media writes about banning hundreds of books from being sold. And they blame us for this. The committee that decides the ban
consists of members in high positions from outside and inside the Ministry of Endowments and the Ministry of Information. The censor is not responsible for the ban. He only reads and gives his opinion according to the law, she added.
It takes about a year or a year and a half to become a censor, as the person is first employed as a censor assistant. The employee first starts slow in reading and it takes him a week or days to finish a book. Also, beginners are not given
political or religious books in the beginning as these are difficult. Instead we give them children's books or some scientific books, which are easy, said Dalal. In some religious books, the censorship department cooperates with the Ministry
of Endowments. Religious opinions may differ and that's why we demand a professional explanation, although we have some censors who are graduates of the Faculty of Islamic Law. Some religious issues are transferred to the Ministry of
Endowments and Islamic Affairs. The banned books include publications printed in Israel, Christian missionary and Jewish books and other similar books, she noted.
The censors have to pass some courses and practicals to be eligible to do this job. After graduating and appointment to this job, the new censor receives practical training at the Ministry of Information. For instance, he or she is given a
book containing violations to be censored and we see how good they are. Within a year or so, they will be completely trained. Also the employee receives a course about the laws related to censorship. Usually the employees are graduates from the
college of political science, history and similar fields, she concluded.
A judge has upheld the nine-year prison sentence for prominent lawyer and distinguished human rights activist Mohammad Ali Dadkhah. Dadkhah told the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran that he was only informed of the decision when he
went to court to follow up on a client's case.
Dadkhah told the Campaign:
I went to the Revolutionary Court on Saturday morning [April 28] to defend one of my clients, Arjang Davoodi. The branch Judge told me that I was not allowed to defend my client. He said, 'You yourself will have to go to prison.' He said, 'Your
sentence has been finalized by the appeals court,' and he told me to expect service of the ruling. According to this ruling, I have been sentenced to nine years in prison, ten years' ban on legal practice, ten years' ban on teaching, cash fines,
and flogging. It appears that the flogging sentence will be converted to a cash fine.
The ruling, which was upheld by Branch 15 of the Revolutionary Court, was not actually presented to Dadkhah. Unfortunately, during recent years it has become standard procedure for the Revolutionary Court not to present the suspect with a
ruling. They only announce the sentence and now I expect to be served and go to prison, he said.
Mohammad Ali Dadkhah is a prominent lawyer who has defended many political activists, students, and prisoners of conscience such as Hossein Ronaghi Maleki, Ebrahim Yazdi, and Youcef Naderkhani, a Christian pastor sentenced to death for apostasy.
The lawyer who defended Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani in his apostasy case has been jailed. According to Christian Solidarity Worldwide, Mohammad Ali Dadkhah was imprisoned to begin his 9 year sentence last Saturday.
Kuwaiti lawmakers have endorsed a legal amendment which looks set to make insulting the religious characters of God and Mohammad punishable by death.
The bill has now passed its second reading and now just needs approval by Kuwait's ruler before it becomes law. The law was passed by 40 votes to 6.
The draft now includes a new clause which will mean the death penalty will only be applied if the person stands by their actions when questioned by a judge. This would give defendants the opportunity to repent and face a prison term or a fine
instead. The amendment would also apply the death penalty only for Muslims.
Egypt's Islamist-dominated Religious Affairs Committee is considering a new film censorship law. It will be aimed at repressing local producers, distributors of film content deemed harmful to society .
According to committee head Sayed Askar, the law, if passed, would not differentiate between old and new films, and would be applied to any sexually-explicit content deemed harmful to society. The proposed legislation, he clarified, would
penalise the producers and distributors of such content, and not actors.
When asked whether the law would only prohibit nudity or would also extend to hugs and kisses on film, Askar declined to provide details but stressed that the law would have the last word regarding censorship issues.
Article 1 of the bill reportedly calls for the establishment of an independent, 15-member Supreme Council for Audio and Visual Broadcasts. Council members would be appointed by the prime minister and include both Muslim and Christian
The law's second article, meanwhile, lays down the council's responsibilities and authorities. It also lists proscribed content, including scenes of a sexual nature, both verbal and visual; scenes depicting the use of drugs, alcohol or gambling;
and scenes deemed insulting to particular professions, races, genders or religions.
Kuwait plans to pass laws this year to censor the use of social networking sites such as Twitter, the information minister has said, in the wake of cases of alleged blasphemy and sectarianism that have prompted protests.
Kuwaiti lawmakers have already voted in favour of a legal amendment earlier this month which could make insulting religious characters punishable by death.
Information Minister Sheikh Mohammad al-Mubarak Al-Sabah said:
The government is now in the process of establishing laws that will allow government entities to regulate the use of the different new media outlets such as Twitter in order to safeguard the cohesiveness of the population and society.
Sheikh Mohammad said laws regulating social media needed to be passed as soon as possible: I have been asking the parliamentarians to give this priority, adding that he hoped the measures would be implemented this year.
Jordan government delighted at Facebook petition asking for a ban on internet porn that will put a stop to incest, rape and adultery
Jordanian internet users have reacted angrily to government encroachment on the freedom of the internet. Jordan's Ministry of Information and Communications Technology has stated support for a blanket ban on online pornographic material, an easy
jumping-off point for wider controls.
The Ministry was responding to a petition set up through the social-networking site Facebook to censor x-rated material in order to bring an end to sexual crimes such as incest, rape and adultery . The petition attracted 29,459 likes
The Ministry of ICT will now begin consulting with ISPs as to how to filter and block the sites, although the obliging anonymous source at the Jordan Times told the paper that at this stage, there are no financial allocations for a
project to block these sites.
Jordanian bloggers have responded furiously to the implication that the government will now either use part of its' taxpayer-funded research and development budget to pay for this move, or that the cost of censoring will be built into ISP costs.
An Egyptian court has upheld a conviction against one of the Arab world's most famous comedians, sentencing him to jail for offending Islam in some of his most popular films.
Adel Imam was sentenced to three months in jail and fined around $170 for insulting Islam in roles he played in movies such as The Terrorist , in which he acted the role of a wanted terrorist who found refuge with a middle class, moderate
family, and the film Terrorism and Kabab.
The actor was also found guilty for his 2007 role in Morgan Ahmed Morgan , in which Imam played a corrupt businessman who tries to buy a university diploma. The film included a scene parodying bearded Muslim men wearing traditional
Author Alaa al-Aswany, whose best-seller The Yacoubian Building was turned into a film costarring Imam, said the court ruling sets Egypt back to the darkness of the Middle Ages.
A Cairo misdemeanour court dismissed on Thursday a complaint against Egyptian comedy actor Adel Imam and other artists for insulting religion, days after another one sentenced him to jail on the same charge.
The court told the Islamist lawyer who brought the complaint that he had no standing to bring charges against the five artists, who include authors and directors, judicial sources said.
On Tuesday, another court upheld a three-month prison sentence for Imam, one of the region's most famous actors, after a February conviction in absentia.
Imam, who has acted in several movies critical of violent Islamist radicals, told told AFP on Tuesday he would appeal the verdict and remains free on bail.
An Egyptian appeals court has quashed the conviction of the Arab world's most famous comic actor, Adel Imam, on a charge of insulting Islam in his films and plays, rejecting a case brought by a lawyer with Islamist affiliations.
Imam, 72, has frequently poked fun at figures of authority and politicians of all stripes, making him the target of several court actions during a four-decade career. His more serious films dealt with the rise of Islamist militancy.
A judge found Imam guilty in February. The court overturned that verdict.
The Palestinian minister of communications has resigned after criticizing censorship of websites critical of the Palestinian Authority (PA) President Abbas.
Shortly before submitting his resignation to Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, Abu Daka accused the PA attorney-general of being behind the decision to block the news sites including Fateh Voice.
Abu Daka confirmed that a number of Palestinian websites had been blocked by the attorney-general for criticizing PA President Mahmoud Abbas and accused the attorney-general, Ahmed al-Mughni, of gagging freedom of expression and said the
decision to block the websites was illegal.
The Bethlehem-based Ma'an News Agency revealed earlier this week that the PA has blocked up to eight critical news sites since the beginning of the year.
The sites, Amad, Fatah Voice, Firas Press, In Light Press, Karama Press, Kofia Press, Milad News and Palestine Beituna, were all blocked. Palestinian officials told Ma'an that the order to block the web sites came from the attorney-general.
Most of the affected sites were believed to be funded and supported by Abbas's rival, former Fatah Gaza strongman Muhammad
A popular Iranian singer who publicly defied regime censorship by releasing pro-opposition songs on the internet has been sentenced to a year in jail.
Arya Aramnejad fell foul of the authorities after singing political songs in condemnation of the regime's crackdown against the Green movement. Aramnejad, whose works are banned inside Iran, initially released two songs in support of the movement
during the campaign period before the country's disputed presidential elections in 2009.
In the unrest following the elections, which saw dozens of protesters killed and hundreds arrested, Aramnejad released music that particularly infuriated officials and led to his arrest.
Shortly after the protests, Aramnejad released a song called Ali Barkhiz (Wake-up Ali) , which spoke out against the violent crackdown against the opposition. One version of the song, which made it into a video clip posted on YouTube, has
been viewed more than 80,000 times.
Security forces arrested Aramnejad for the first time in February 2010 after his song attracted a great deal of attention. He spent 45 days in solitary confinement before being allowed to contact his family. He was later sentenced to six months,
a term he served from November 2011 until recently, when he was allowed out of prison for the Persian new year.
A friend of Aramnejad said: Arya has been recently informed that he has been given a one-year jail sentence for his other songs released since 2010. He's been accused of acting against national security and spreading propaganda against the
regime, the friend said.
Arabic Network For Human Rights Information (ANHRI) condemns the sentencing of Kuwaiti writer Mohamed al-Melify to 7 years' imprisonment and a fine of $18,000 on charges of supposedly spreading false statements via Twitter. He was arrested by the
authorities last February.
The Kuwait Criminal Court found the writer guilty of spreading false news through his personal Twitter page about sectarian divisions in the country and publishing insults against Shiism in addition to charges of libel and defamation of the MP
The police also arrested a Shiite citizen last month for insulting the Prophet on his Twitter page, an act that angered Sunnis in the country, even leading some members of the Parliament to call for his execution.
It is not permissible to punish a person for whatever religious views, political affiliation, or other opinions that he/she expresses. The imprisonment of writers and Tweeps tarnishes Kuwait's reputation in the field of freedom of opinion and
expression. Therefore, ANHRI calls on the authorities to drop all charges against al-Melify and all prisoners of conscience, and put forward legislation that would ensure the rights to freedom of opinion and expression.
Parliament provisionally approves law requiring the death penalty for religious insult
A Kuwaiti blogger held for supposedly posting abusive remarks against the religious character Mohammad will know about his fate next week.
A court said that Hamad Naqi would be tried on May 21 on charges of denigrating Islam and insulting Mohammad, disseminating false and misleading claims and promoting a sect that aims to undermine security in the country.
However, Naqi denied the charges and said that his Twitter account had been hacked.
Several Kuwaiti lawmakers last month said they would launch public protests if Naqi is not punished for the supposed blasphemy.
An episode of Game of Thrones was cut midway through transmission after Etisalat, which runs the eVision television service, deemed it unsuitable.
Viewers were left with blank screens after the show was pulled off air, with many angry at the lack of explanation for the cut.
Game of Thrones, a medieval fantasy series created for the US network HBO, features nudity, sex scenes and swearing. The second series of the show is airing on the OSN First channel, broadcast by the Dubai-based Orbit Showtime Network.
It was broadcast with minimal editing on OSN's satellite service. But OSN channels are also carried by Etisalat's eVision service. Humaid Al Suwaidi, the chief executive of eVision, confirmed the show was dropped due to the nudity:
Those shows are not really suitable for the family because of the nudity scenes.. This is a decision as per the prevailing law in the country.
One western expatriate in Abu Dhabi said the broadcaster had shown the first series of Game of Thrones, plus shows such as Rome and The Sopranos , which also feature some sexual content.
Etisalat's rival, du, said it had not blocked Game of Thrones:
We do not block any OSN content, as users subscribe to their pay TV channels to view certain programmes, said a spokesman. We offer [a] parental control facility to our TV viewers through which customers are empowered to block TV content such as
Game of Thrones on their own.
OSN makes only minimal cuts to series or films broadcast on its own channels. But many free-to-air broadcasters, such as MBC, heavily censor content.
A Saudi court has sentenced a local woman to 50 lashes for swearing at her friend, following an argument, a newspaper reported.
The two Saudi women decided to go out with their children for a weekend night but argued on where to go. The two women decided to split ... one of them later sent a text to her friend's mobile phone swearing at her.
The other woman went to court and showed the judge the message ... although that woman said she was joking, the court ordered her lashed 50 times.
The Egyptian Censorship Authority is to delete all supposedly inappropriate kissing scenes in several films, and has established a list of stars whose films will be banned or censored.
The list includes Adel Imam, Souad Hosni, Nabila Obeid, Nadia Al Jundi, Mirvat Amin, Najla Fathi, Chamss Al Baroudi, Najwa Fouad, Tahia Karioka, Samia Jamal, and Fifi Abdou.
This decision has targeted several movies like Charee Al Hobb, Al Wissada Al Khaliya, Maaboudat Al Jamahir, Al Rajoul al Thani and Al Zawja Rakm 13.
A group of Islamic supervisors of the Egyptian Public Broadcaster will be in charge of removing immoral footage from films the TV network has in its archives. The ban will apply to scenes featuring hugging, kissing and belly dancing.
The daily believes that the setting up of a supervising authority on cinema and TV content is a clear indication of the ground which the Islamic parties have been gaining in post-Mubarak Egypt.
An Egyptian court sentenced a 17-year-old Christian boy to three years in jail for publishing cartoons on his Facebook page that supposedly mocked Islam and Mohammad.
Gamal Abdou Massoud was also accused of distributing some of his cartoons to his school friends in a village in the southern city of Assiut.
Human rights lawyer Negad al-Borai said the jail sentence was the maximum penalty under Egyptian law for such a crime.
Assiut child's court ordered the jailing of Gamal Abdou Massoud ... for three years after he insulted Islam and published and distributed pictures that insulted Islam and its Prophet, the court said in a statement seen by Reuters.
Some muslims responded to the cartoon in traditional violent fashion. Muslims attacked several Christian houses, which were burned, and several Christians were injured in the violence.
Israel has declared the German Nobel laureate, Gunther Grass, persona non grata following the publication of his poem suggesting that the Jewish State poses a greater threat to world peace than Iran.
The celebrated author, 84, noted for The Tin Drum , was forced to defend his poem, explaining that his criticism was directed at Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and not Israel as a whole.
After the work was published in a German newspaper last week, Netanyahu accused the author of shameful moral equivalence and suggested that his criticisms derived from his time in the Waffen-SS during the Second World War.
Reflecting the bitter official mood in Israel, Interior Minister Eli Yishai said that Grass would in future be barred from entering the country. Grass's poems are an attempt to guide the fire of hate towards the State of Israel... and to
advance the ideas of which he was a public partner in the past, when he wore the uniform of the SS, Yishai said.
In his poem What must be said , Grass said that Israel endangered a fragile world peace and warned that it could wipe out the Iranian people with a first strike to stop Tehran's nuclear ambitions.
Iran appears to have blocked the official website for the London 2012 Olympic Games.
Users in Iran have tweeted that they are unable to connect to london2012.com and are instead redirected to peyvandha.ir - a site offering stories from Iran's official news agencies.
Iran has already blocked UK embassy websites possibly in a bit of a censorship tiff since the propaganda news Channel Press TV was banned first from the UK, and then from Europe, being taken off the Astra satellite after a request from Germany.
Iran had previously signalled it might boycott the Olympics over claims that the official logo spells the word Zion - a Hebrew word used to refer to Israel or Jerusalem.
In February 2011 the Iranian authorities called for the logo to be withdrawn and the designers confronted . However, a follow-up letter later made clear its athletes would still participate and play gloriously .
A law which allows the Jordanian authorities to detain activists on the basis of insulting the king must be repealed, Amnesty International said after 30 to 40 apparently peaceful protesters were detained in Amman.
At least 13 people remain in custody in the wake of the weekend protests against the detention of half a dozen pro-reform activists.
Four activists have been held for nearly a month and are now facing charges of insulting the king amid a growing crackdown on freedom of expression.
The protestors are understood to have been arrested when they called for the downfall of the government. Some 40 to 50 officers of the Gendarmerie allegedly beat and kicked them before loading them into a police van. According to a lawyer who
visited them, they were also beaten after arrest.to a hospital for examination was apparently refused.
Jordan continues to use a draconian law which effectively criminalizes political dissent as a way to silence political opponents and government critics, said Ann Harrison, Deputy Director of Amnesty International's Middle East and North
To date, Lebanese internet users, and especially bloggers, have enjoyed some of the greatest Internet freedoms in the Middle East. But a new draft law by Information Minister Walid Daouk, called the Lebanese Internet Regulation Act, could put an
end to some of those freedoms.
Under the proposed law, any electronic publication affecting the morals and ethics of Lebanon, as well as anything having to do with gambling, would be illegal. The Act would also require mandatory registration of websites with the
Ministry of Information, including personally identifying information.
The Act would render online content (including advertising) subject to the same regulations as traditional print and broadcast media under the country's 1963 press law, which limits the number of press licenses issued for political
publication, and encourages self-censorship. Web users would also be restricted to owning no more than a single website.
Lebanese citizens are protesting the Act on Twitter under the hashtag #StopLIRA.
Proposed legislation in Iraq has free speech and human rights watch groups on alert.
According to a translation from the Centre for Law and Democracy, Articles 3, 4, and 5 of Iraq's IT Crimes Law would impose a mandatory life sentence for anyone using a computer or the Internet to do any of the following:
compromise the unity of the state;
subscribe, participate, negotiate, promote, contract or deal with an enemy ... in order to destabilize security and public order or expose the country to danger;
damage, cause defects, or hinder [systems or networks] belonging to security military, or intelligence authorities with a deliberate intention to harm [state security].
promote ideas which are disruptive to public order ;
implement terrorist operations under fake names or to facilitate communication with members or leaders of terrorist groups ;
promote terrorist activites and ideologies or to publish information regarding the manufacturing, preparation and implementation of flammable or explosive devices, or any tools or materials used in the planning or execution of terrorist acts
; facilitate or promote human trafficking in any form ;
engage in trafficking, promoting or facilitating the abuse of drugs .
The Act also includes provisions to punish network users who create chaos in order to weaken the trust of the electronic system of the state, provoke or promote armed disobedience, disturb public order or harm the reputation of
the country, or intrude, annoy or call computer and information network users without authorization or hinders their use.
Copyright infringement and hacking would also land users in big trouble under the Act, which proposes a 2- to 3-year prison term for either offense.
Iran has whinged at the BBC for airing what it said was illegal footage of Tehran in a new documentary examining the history of Iran's relationship with Israel, from the Babylonian exile through the present conflict.
BBC Persian posted Iranian-Canadian journalist Maziar Bahari's film, From Cyrus to Ahmadinejad , on its website last week, where it is still available for viewing. The Persian-language channel has also organized a showing of the
documentary at London's Frontline Club later this month.
The 55-minute film examines Israel's relationship with Iran from the time of Persian King Cyrus the Great, who helped the Jews return to Israel from exile in Babylonia in the sixth century BC, through the Jewish state's covert dealings with Iran
both before and after the fall of the Shah in the 1979 Islamic Revolution.
A statement appeared on Iran's state-run Press TV's English and Persian websites, saying that BBC Persian was broadcasting the documentary illegally, because of a ban on airing footage taken in Iran.
Iran's anger over Bahari's documentary is also the latest development in an ongoing row over the UK's decision in January to revoke Iran's state-owned Press TV's license to broadcast in Britain, after the Iranian channel aired an interview last
year of Bahari obtained under duress during his 118-day detention in a Tehran prison in 2009.
An Egyptian court has outright declared internet pornography illegal. The move comes as pressure mounted on the ruling parties to do something about a supposed pornography problem from nutter groups.
Questions arise as to how enforceable the new law could possibly be. A court in Egypt proclaimed a similar ban in 2009 and it never saw any practical implementation. The country could simply declare it illegal. The other option for the country is
to filter its citizen's internet access, a method that is being actively investigated according to rulers, and one which raises many more questions about the country's future.
This move could be the shot that signals a very different Egypt and one that the west won't find as cooperative as has been enjoyed in recent times. The military is still pro west, the country receives billions in military aid every year to keep
them that way and to continue their influence over the country's policy. Egypt is very important to the United States for two major reasons. The country borders Israel whose security is a strategic imperative and it surrounds the Suez canal one
of the world's most important shipping routes and the most important in terms of energy.
Kuwait's National Assembly has discussed a proposal to amend the Penal Code, increasing the legal punishment for anyone proven to have publicly committed blasphemy. The Legal and Legislative committee was assigned to review the amendment and form
a report to be debated and voted on during the April 10 session.
The amendment proposal stipulates the death penalty or life imprisonment to those who publicly insult God, or Mohammed or his wives by words, writings, drawings, or pictures or any other means of expression in a public place or where they can
be seen or heard by those in a public arena.
The amendment further adds that the punishment may be reduced to provisional detention for a period not exceeding five years if the convicted expresses remorse and regret in writing and verbally and vows not to return to his previous conduct
. If the convicted returns to his previous behavior, then the Court of Cassation must carry out the previous penalty, according to the proposal.
The amendment to Article 111 of the Penal Code was submitted following the arrest of a Kuwaiti citizen who made supposedly blasphemous remarks on Twitter.
The Assembly severely condemned the perpetrator and accused the Cabinet, specifically the Interior Ministry for failing to curb the recurrent phenomenon of blasphemy against Mohammed and his wives. They urged the approval of the legislation and