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  Sinful State Censorship...

Political film censorship in Turkey via awarding arbitrary 18 ratings


Link Here 27th September 2014
lets sin Itirazim Var (Let's Sin) is a 2014 Turkey action drama by Onur Ünlü.
Starring Serkan Keskin, Hazal Kaya and Öner Erkan. YouTube icon IMDb

There is a murder while at prayer. Selman Bulut, the imam of mosque, starts to investigate the murder and faces with people in the neighborhood.

Politicised censorship of the satirical film Let's Sin by Onur Unlu, has cast a shadow over the industry.

The film, about an irreverent Imam who goes to extreme lengths to solve a murder, received several awards. But the Turkish Ministry of Culture designated an 18 rating for the film normally reserved for those with the most extreme sexual or violent content - a commercial kiss of death for most films, as few Turkish cinemas screen them.

The decision was widely seen by the film industry as politically motivated. A charge well founded, according to Yamac Okur, the film industry's representative on the rating classification board. Okur says ever since last year's anti government protests known as Gezi, the government has adopted a political agenda on classifying films:

Especially after the Gezi protests, I can say there is a tendency. It's very related to politics. Sometimes with the subject whether the content is sexual or religious and sometimes who directed it or produced it. For example for Onur Unlu, because Onur Unlu was very political and critical of the main government and politics.

The government of course denied any political motivation behind film classifications, but after the film industry erupted in outrage over the classification of Unlu's film. The Ministry of Culture finally backed down and re-classified the film as suitable for viewers 13 years old and above.

Arbitrarily awarded 18 ratings can also have another politically repressive usage. Any films that are state funded have to return the funding should the film be awarded an 18 rating. Obviously if ratings are not tied to content, then film makers are open to a massive financial hit should they offend the state and so get an 18 rating.

Okur, a successful film producer and a member of the classification board, has been trying to persuade the government to introduce reform. He says new legislation is pending that will introduce a clear criteria for the classification of films but that any reform is unlikely until after next year's general election.

 

  Government Crime...

CPJ highlights a repressive law that will restrict free speech on Qatar


Link Here 22nd September 2014
Qatar flag The Committee to Protect Journalists calls on the Qatari government to abolish parts of a restrictive cybercrime law that passed this week, despite assurances from its prime minister last year that the legislation would not restrict freedom of expression, which is supposedly protected under the Qatari constitution.

The broad language of the Anti-Cybercrime Law will be used to restrict press freedom and impose prison sentences on journalists inside the country, according to news reports . Under Article 8, the law threatens to punish anyone found guilty of violating social values by publishing news, pictures, audio or video recordings related to the personal or family life of individuals, even if true, with up to one year in prison and a QR100,000 ($28,000) fine, according to local reports. The same punishment would apply to those found guilty of libel online.

According to a local news report , the law also states that those found [jeopardizing] the safety of the state, its general order, and its local or international peace by spreading or publishing false news through any means could face a one-year prison sentence and QR250,000 fine. Article 6 of the law threatens fines of up to QR500,000 and prison terms of up to three years for spreading false news with the aim of destabilizing national security, reports stated.

Sherif Mansour, CPJ Middle East and North Africa Coordinator said:

This law is ostensibly to stop cybercrime but at least two articles will severely restrict freedom of expression, which is not a crime The Qatari authorities should repeal all articles in this law which curb press freedom. Failure to do so will chill public discourse between the Qatari government and the citizens it serves.

 

 Update: Offensive Censorship...

Iranian blogger sentenced to death for supposed insult of a religious character


Link Here 19th September 2014  full story: Internet Death Sentence...Iran goes extreme over website censorship
Facebook logo A blogger has fallen victim to extreme censorship in Iran and has been sentenced to death after being found guilty of insulting the religious character Mohammad on Facebook.

According to an informed source , speaking to the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran, Soheil Arabi, had kept eight Facebook pages under different names and admitted to posting material supposedly insulting to a religious character.

Article 262 of the Islamic Penal Code states insulting Mohammed carries a punishment of death, however, article 264 of the Penal Code says if a suspect claims to have said the insulting words in anger, in quoting someone, or by mistake, his death sentence will be converted to 74 lashes.

The anonymous source claims:

Unfortunately, despite this Article and the explanations provided, the judges issued the death sentence. They didn't even take any notice of Soheil's statements in court in which he repeated several times that he wrote the posts under poor [psychological] conditions, and that he is remorseful.

Arabi will be able to appeal against the decision until 20 September.

 

  Kuwait's book censor recommends...

Abdullah Al Busais' new novel, Stray Memories (Zakriyat Dalla)


Link Here 19th September 2014
stray memories Kuwaiti government book censors have prevented Abdullah Al Busais's new novel S tray Memories (Zakriyat Dalla) from entering the country.

Most of the annoyed or outraged commentary on Twitter doubted the government's ability to prevent people from seeing new writing and new ideas:

There was no official statement given about the banning, although novelist Abdullah Al Busais said there was some claim that the novel had obscene content. He further suggested that the book was banned because of tweets about the novel, not the novel itself.

The book is set before and after Iraq's invasion of its southern neighbor, and the novel reportedly follows two central characters, a Kuwaiti officer and a bidoon , or stateless person.

 

  Truth Hurts...

A Russian proposal to ban foreign films that 'demonise' Russia as an aggressive invading power


Link Here 29th August 2014

Red Dawn DVD Patrick Swayze A member of Russia'a culture committee recently recommended a ban on foreign films that demonize Russia.

While the idea of stricter control over the image of Russia and Russians in foreign films has been floated by top officials time and again over the last few years, the first concrete proposal aimed at banning foreign films that demonize Russia was recently made by Batu Khasikov, a member of the culture committee at Russia's Federation Council, the upper chamber of Parliament. He proposed:

Specific requirements should be introduced for film exhibition in the country, and movies where everything related to Russia is overtly demonized or shown in a primitive and silly way should be banned from theatrical distribution.

 

 Update: Why doesn't Iran trust its citizens?...

Iran dictates that all news websites but be registered or else they will be blocked


Link Here 17th August 2014  full story: Internet Death Sentence...Iran goes extreme over website censorship
Iran flag Last week, Iran's Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance announced that all news websites that do not obtain government-issued licenses will be blocked nationwide.

Hassan Mehrabi, the Ministry's director of local press regulations declared that all news websites in the future must obtain licenses from the Ministry's press supervisory board. Further details about the new policy appeared in a report covered by the Iranian Student News Agency (ISNA).

Prior to the new regulation, most websites registered within Iran would abide by self-censorship in order to avoid being filtered. Targets of filtering have often been reformist websites, such as those associated with the Green Movement and its leaders.

This news comes three months after moderate President Hassan Rouhani's conference on information and communications technologies, where he announced:

The right of citizens to have access to international networks of information is something we formally recognize. Why are we so nervous? Why don't we trust our youth?

 

  Is this shutting down criticism of the bombing?...

Game mocking Gaza bombing has been removed from Google Play


Link Here 5th August 2014
bomb gaza A phone game which mocks the bombing of Gaza was removed from the Google app store following public 'outrage'.

The game Bomb Gaza was developed by PLAYFTW for Android phones and tablets had been downloaded up to 1,000 times since its release on July 29 of this year. Its stated aim was to drop bombs and avoid killing civilians, according to the Guardian.

Comments in the game's review section expressed anger and bewilderment that real human suffering could be made into a game.

A Google spokesman confirmed the ban: We remove apps from Google Play that violate our policies. The company did not specify which policy the game had violated.

According to Mashable, a second game referencing the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas, Gaza Assault: Code Red , was also removed by Google.

 

  On the Political Stage...

Israeli funded stage show on the Edinburgh Fringe cancelled after protests


Link Here 2nd August 2014
the city incubator theatre A show by an Israeli theatre group has been cancelled by the venue after protesters disrupted other nearby events.

The show was due to take place as part of the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, an annual cultural festival in the Scottish capital that celebrates theatre, music and comedy. However, the Underbelly theatre was forced to cancel all performances of The City by the Incubator Theatre group after anti-Israel demonstrators gathered outside, disrupting nearby events.

Described as Humphrey Bogart meets Jay-Z in a gritty and darkly comic whodunit hip-hop opera , The City did not have political content yet various Scottish cultural figures called for a boycott as the Incubator Theatre group receives part of its funding from the Israeli Ministry of Culture.

 

 Offsite Article: Propaganda Times...


Link Here 2nd August 2014
new york times logo Israel's news censor wants to pre-approve New York Times coverage of kidnapped soldier

See article from huffingtonpost.com

 

 Update: Closed Curtain...

Banned Iranian director to release latest film online for viewers in Iran


Link Here 17th July 2014  full story: Jafar Panahi...Iran jails film director for propaganda against the regime
closed curtain Jafar Panahi's Closed Curtain will be released digitally online and will be free for viewers in Iran using VHX, the direct-to-consumer platform, beginning Monday, July 14th.

One of Iran's most celebrated filmmakers, Panahi has been under house arrest since 2011, and the Iranian government has banned him from making any films for 20 years. Closed Curtain marks Panahi's second time defying the ban placed upon him by the government. The first was his 2011 documentary This is Not a Film.

Closed Curtain won the Silver Bear for Best Script at the Berlin Film Festival earlier this year and recently opened at the Film Forum in New York City. It will screen across the U.S. and Canada throughout the rest of the summer.

VHX has led the charge on a social media campaign to support Panahi. Using the hashtag #Celebratenotcensor, VHX is asking people to tweet using that hashtag and to:

Show your support as well by sharing a personal message of support for Jafar and for other artists around the world who are being denied the freedom of expression.