Members of the Kurdistan Region parliament have put forward a draft law blocking pornographic websites in the Region.
MP Bahzad Darwesh from the Kurdistan Islamic Union (KIU) revealed that 27 MPs signed a draft law on September 20th , proposing the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) block access to online porn.
Darwesh claimed that the draft law has been made to save customs, traditions and social values. He pointed out that along with MPs from Islamic parties, other members of parliament have signed the bill.
The Iraqi parliament recently voted to restrict access to internet pornography in the country, but the newly-ratified law is not enforceable until the Kurdistan Region parliament votes in favor of the bill.
Bahrain has become the latest Gulf state to propose a legal ban on critical discussion of religion. In a report of a cabinet meeting, the government news agency says:
A draft law on criminalising contempt of religions, such as insulting divinity, defaming divine books, prophets, Allah's Messengers, as well as their wives or companions, and any hate and sectarian discourse that undermines national unity,
differentiates between individuals or groups on the bases of religion, creed or sect and triggers conflict between individuals or groups, was also discussed.
The bill was presented in the memorandum submitted by the Interior Minister, and was referred to the Ministerial Committee for Legal Affairs for further study.
Both moves appear to be a response to an international conference in France, where a Saudi official from the Ministry of Islamic Affairs called for the worldwide introduction of blasphemy laws, as a matter of urgency.
Religious intolerants in Russia have attacked a major art exhibit in Moscow, claiming it offended their beliefs and was therefore somehow illegal.
Members of God's Will, a Christian extremist group led by self-proclaimed missionary Dmitry Enteo Tsorionov, vandalised the Sculptures We Don't See exhibit at the Manezh, a vast exhibition space next to Red Square.
During the attack activists shouted that the works on display were offensive to people of faith and violated legislation introduced to deter protests such as that carried out by Pussy Riot.
In a video of the incident one of the activists rips a linoleum engraving of a naked Christ made by Vadim Sidur, known as the Soviet Henry Moore , off its plinth. She then throws it on the floor and stamps on it.
The group's leader Enteo targeted a work by another artist, Megasoma Mars. This sculpture was titled Beheading of St John the Baptist #2 and comprised a series of heads displayed on plates. Enteo seized one of the heads and smashed the
plate it had been on.
As a result, four works by Sidur and one Mars were damaged, said a spokesperson for the gallery .
The legislation referred to by the religious vandals was a law making offending religious feelings a crime which was signed into law by Vladimir Putin in 2013.
The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns new restrictions that Saudi authorities will impose on news websites.
Saud Kateb, the spokesman for the Saudi Ministry of Culture and Information, said that the new requirements include having a commercial registration, an office space, and a municipal license. He also said that editors-in-chief should have college
degrees and Saudi citizenship, among other conditions.
Sherif Mansour, CPJ's Middle East and North Africa program coordinator said:
With these restrictions, the Saudi government is sending a clear message that it will be almost impossible for online media to operate with any autonomy. We are deeply concerned by these measures and call on the Saudi government to stop
interfering with the flow of news and information.
The requirements will be enforced in October, at the beginning of the new year in the Islamic calendar. News websites have been warned that if they do not comply, they will be shut down and/or lose their license,
The United Arab Emirates has passed an anti-hatred law which outlaws insulting religion.
Gulf News reports that the legislation makes illegal any acts that stoke religious hatred and any form of expression that insults religion.
The law, passed by decree at the end of July, prohibits any act that would be considered as insulting God, His prophets or apostles or holy books or houses of worship or graveyards.
Punishments include 10 year jail terms and substantial fines. Provisions in the legislation include a prohibition on expressing doubt about the existence of God.
The UK's National Secular Society president Terry Sanderson commented:
The UAE are using anti-discrimination legislation as a cover to criminalise all manner of dissent- including blasphemy. It is dispiriting, and sadly unsurprising to see yet another crackdown on religious freedom and freedom of speech in the
As with the recent comments from the Saudi Arabian Ministry of Islamic Affairs , the language of human rights, freedom and tolerance are subverted in order to further an Islamist agenda, in this case under the guise of an anti-discrimination
statute. In fact, this legislation insults the concept of equality by creating discrimination against non-believers.
It's important that attention is drawn to laws like these, particularly given that so many Islamist regimes are intent on enacting global laws against the 'defamation of religion'.
These attempts often cynically hijack the vocabulary of human rights, something which we also see from many groups and activists in the West who lobby for de facto blasphemy legislation.