Middle East Censorship News

 2016: Oct-Dec



  Russia recommends...

Charlie Hebdo's Russian plane crash edition


Link Here 30th December 2016
hebdo on russian plane crashRussia has accused Charlie Hebdo of mocking the Black Sea plane crash after publishing inhuman cartoons about the disaster.

In one reference to the crash, the French magazine depicted a jet hurtling downwards along with words translated as: Bad news... Putin wasn't on board .

The magazine also published a cartoon showing a choir member from the ensemble making a wailing sound aaaaaa . One caption reads: The repertoire of the army choir is expanding.   A third cartoon shows bodies sinking in the sea with the caption: The Red Army conquers a new public .

The Russian Defence Ministry's spokesman Major General Igor Konashenkov complained:

It is degrading for any human being to even pay attention to such a poorly-created abomination. If such, dare I say, "artistry" is the real manifestation of "Western values", then those who hold and support them are doomed - at least to loneliness in the future.

 

 Update: Peeling away options for circumvention of internet censorship...

Turkey blocks Tor


Link Here 19th December 2016  full story: Internet Censorship in Turkey...Website blocking insults the Turkish people
tor logo Turkey's President Erdogan has stepped up his repression of dissent by blocking the Tor network in the country.

Watchdog group Turkey Blocks has confirmed that Turkey is blocking the Tor anonymity network's direct access mode for most users. You can still use a bridge mode for now, but there are hints that internet providers might be hurting performance even then. Bridges are unlisted relays and may require a bit of searching out.

The restrictions come alongside a recent government ban on virtual private network services.

 

 Offsite Article: A brief history of film censorship in Egypt...


Link Here 18th December 2016
Poster Shams Elzanaty 1991 Samir Seif Giving a sense of the absurd state of censorship in Egypt. By Ahmed Shawky Ali

See article from madamasr.com

 

 Update: Wind up wound down...

Germany cancels a musical performance in Istanbul about the Armenian genocide


Link Here 12th November 2016  full story: Erdogan Insulted in Germany...Free speech finds no refuge in Germany
aghetGermany's foreign ministry has cancelled a 13 November 2016 Dresden Symphony Orchestra performance of Aghet , commemorating the 100-year anniversary of the Armenian genocide, scheduled to take place at the German consulate in Istanbul. The ministry said that:

The whole consulate in Istanbul is not available on November 13 and that the invitations were sent out without State Department approval.

Orchestra director Markus Rindt told Reuters:

It's definitely been cancelled. They said they wanted to reschedule at a better time, but when would that be? This has been planned for years.

The Aghet project began in November 2015 when he conceived of the idea to bring together Armenian, Turkish and German musicians to play a concert together to remember the events that happened 101 years ago and to act a symbol of reconciliation.

In advance of the performance, the orchestra had invited Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim and Foreign Minister Mevlüt Cavusoglu. But last April Turkey had demanded the European Commission pull its 200,000 Euros of funding from the symphony's project as the country takes offence at any mention of the 1915 Armenian genocide.

 

  We don't censor books in the UAE...BUT...

There are lots of lines that can't be crossed, several government censor departments to ensure this, and not to mention a ban on less well educated people getting books published in the first place


Link Here 4th November 2016
sharjah international book fair logoThe UAE does not censor any book entering book fairs in the country claimed a senior book censor from the National Media Council (NMC) ...BUT... certain lines are not to be crossed . The official was speaking at the Sharjah International Book Fair (SIBF).

Juma Al Leem, director of the NMC office in Dubai, said:

In the UAE, we never prohibit books in any book fair. We give our remarks or comments only about the book.

Al Leem added that while there is also no censorship in general terms in the UAE, every country has a red line for content. He said the US, for example, blocks books deemed to be a national security threat.

Certain lines are not to be crossed We don't support [books that promote] terrorism, and so on.

However certain types of books will continue to be referred by the NMC to relevant UAE ministries before a final approval is granted. For example, a medical publication awaiting the green light from the NMC is sent by the NMC to the Ministry of Health and Prevention so specialists can assess the content.

We concentrate on quality. We don't permit every book. We don't want false facts.

Al Leem said the NMC has its own highly qualified and specialised staff to assess works of literature and various other genres, besides  referrals to third-party entities on technical subjects. He pointed out that each licence for a work to be published in the UAE has its own terms and conditions.  He added that in certain cases a minimum of a high-school certificate is required to allow the licence to go ahead.

We are not using our power against writers. The new law on competencies is now effective and we will reveal more details.

 

 Update: Following Britain's lead...

Israel's government initiates law to block adult content on the internet unless subscribers opt in


Link Here 31st October 2016  full story: Internet Censorship in Israel...Legislation proposed to let police block websites
Israel flagIsrael's Ministerial Committee for Legislation has unanimously approved a bill forcing Israeli ISPs to censor pornography by default.

Under the terms of the bill, users who want to opt in for adult content would be required to notify their service providers either in writing, by phone, or via the ISP's website.

The bill will now head to the Knesset, Israel's parliament, to start the process of legislative approval.

Critics say that aside from limiting freedom of information, the attempt to censor inappropriate content would likely lasso similar but unrelated content such information on breast cancer and other educational material. In addition, critics said, the need for users to notify providers in order to gain access to pornography is arguably a violation of privacy.

The bill was sponsored by Jewish Home MK Shuli Moalem-Refaeli, who noted that similar default blocking of adult content has been introduced in other Western countries, notably Britain.

Moalem said that ensuring non-pornographic states are not filtered by accident would be a challenge to overcome as the bill is fine-tuned before approval by the Knesset. She noted that sites which contain both adult-oriented and family-suitable material also present difficulties to censoring systems.

 

 Offsite Article: Presumably the same in the rest of the world, just not revealed yet...


Link Here 30th October 2016
procera logo Turkey joins the US in revealing that ISPs have been using deep packet inspection for detailed snooping of customers internet use

See article from dailydot.com

 

  The Girl on the Train...

New movie banned in Kuwait and Qatar


Link Here 10th October 2016
Girl Train DVD Emily Blunt The Girl on the Train is a 2016 USA mystery thriller by Tate Taylor.
Starring Laura Prepon, Emily Blunt and Rebecca Ferguson. BBFC link IMDb
Rachel, devastated by her recent divorce, spends her daily commute fantasising about the seemingly perfect couple who live in a house that her train passes every day, until one morning she sees something shocking happen there and becomes entangled in the mystery that unfolds. The Girl On The Train is a darkly addictive thriller based on the international publishing phenomenon.

The recently-launched psychological thriller The Girl on the Train will not be shown in Qatar's cinemas, operators have said. The film was due to be screened for the first time in Qatar last Friday, but cinema companies told Doha News that authorities asked them to not run it.

Trailers for the film show sex scenes, and the story revolves around the main character's drinking problem.

Qatar's Ministry of Culture and Sports declined to comment, but said it would provide an official statement on Monday.

The movie has also been banned in Kuwait.

Kuwait: Banned in October 2016

Banned by government film censors but the reason is not yet clear.

Qatar: Banned in October 2016

The authorities banned the film very near to the cinema release for reasons that are not yet clear.

For comparison:

  • UK BBFC: Passed 15 uncut for strong language, sex, violence.
  • US MPAA: Rated R for violence, sexual content, language and nudity

 

  Biffed...

Three films censored at the Beirut International Film Festival


Link Here 7th October 2016

Poster Omor Shakhsiya 2016 Maha Haj Personal Affairs (Omor Shakhsiya) is a 2016 Israel drama by Maha Haj.
Starring Maisa Abd Elhadi, Ziad Bakri and Jihan Dermelkonian. IMDb

In Nazareth, an old couple lives wearily to the rhythm of the daily routine. On the other side of the border, in Ramallah, their son Tarek wishes to remain an eternal bachelor, their daughter is about to give birth while her husband lands a movie role and the grandmother loses her head ... Between check-points and dreams, frivolity and politics, some want to leave, others want to stay but all have personal affairs to resolve.

The Nights of Zayandeh-Rood (Shabhaye Zayendeh-Rood) is a 1990 Iran by Mohsen Makhmalbaf.
Starring Manuchehr Esmaili, Mojgan Naderi and Parvaneh Goharani. IMDb

The 16th Beirut International Film Festival [BIFF] has been asked to cut footage from three films before they could be screened, according to news reports.

The censored films are Personal Affairs directed by the Palestinian filmmaker Maha Haj, World Cup [Ka's Al Alam] directed by two Syrian brothers, Mohammed and Ahmad Malas, and The Nights of Zayandeh-Rood directed by the famed Iranian artist Mohsen Makhmalbaf.

According to Colette Naufal, Lebanon's General Security agency demanded that a specific scene be deleted from World Cup, allegedly because it was deemed to contain insults to Lebanese personalities and parties.

It is unfortunate that political considerations interfere in arts and culture, declared Naufal, the BIFF Director, adding that the cinematic event aimed to present a platform for freedom of expression that the overwhelming majority of Lebanese stand for.

Tareq Halabi, the head of the audiovisual department at General Security, disagreed and insisted that screening the Palestinian director's film went against a boycott of all Israeli products in Lebanon, whether artistic or not , presumably because it was produced by an Israeli company and shot in Israel.

Halabi also concluded that The Nights of Zayandeh-Rood, which apparently showed certain elements concerning Iran , contravened Lebanese law. He commented: Lebanese laws forbid meddling in Iranian affairs .

The Nights of Zayandeh-Rood is banned in Iran because it raises troubling questions. It is about an anthropologist and his daughter, who happens to be an emergency room nurse, where she deals with various suicidal patients who try to take their own lives through drug use. What is interesting about the 1991 film is that the narrative occurs during three different periods -- before, during and after the 1979 revolution -- and that highlight a recurring problem in modernising cultures.The movie is available on YouTube and can be accessed by anyone anywhere.

Lebanon, once considered to be an open society that tolerated conflicting norms, is increasingly burdened with censorship. Although sensitive religious concerns and some strong sexual content are routinely expurgated from movies, the latest tendency is to extend this censorship to political matters.

The film festival opened on October 5 and will conclude on October 13.

 

  Justice falls short...

Iran woman imprisoned for 5 years for writing an unpublished short storing abut stoning


Link Here 7th October 2016
Iran flagIranian judges have ordered a young female writer and activist to serve a six-year jail term for writing an unpublished fictional story about stoning to death in her country.

Golrokh Ebrahimi Iraee received a phone call on Tuesday from judicial officials ordering her to Evin prison in Tehran, where her husband, Arash Sadeghi , a prominent student activist, is serving a 19-year sentence.

Ebrahimi Iraee told Voice of America's Persian network this week that she had been sentenced to five years in prison for insulting Islamic sanctities and one extra year for spreading propaganda against the ruling system.

Amnesty International said that Ebrahimi Iraee's plight was linked to a fictional story that the authorities discovered in September 2014 when they ransacked the couple's house in Tehran and confiscated their belongings. Philip Luther, Amnesty's research director for its Middle East and North Africa programme said:

The charges against Golrokh Ebrahimi Iraee are ludicrous. She is facing years behind bars simply for writing a story, and one which was not even published -- she is effectively being punished for using her imagination.

Instead of imprisoning a young woman for peacefully exercising her human rights by expressing her opposition to stoning, the Iranian authorities should focus on abolishing this punishment, which amounts to torture.

It is appalling that Iran continues to allow the use of stoning, and justifies it in the name of protecting morality.

We are urging the authorities to immediately quash Golrokh Ebrahimi Iraee's conviction and that of her husband Arash Sadeghi, who has been behind bars since June for peacefully exercising his rights to freedom of expression and association.

 

 Update: Looking on the bright side...

German prosecutors drop case against comedian who insulted Erdogan


Link Here 6th October 2016  full story: Erdogan Insulted in Germany...Free speech finds no refuge in Germany
Germany flagA German TV comedian who was the centre of a major diplomatic row between Berlin and Ankara over a poem insulting the Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, has been told he will not face prosecution.

German prosecutors said that they had dropped their investigation into Jan Böhmermann because of insufficient evidence he had committed a crime. The explained that the poem was protected by so-called Kunstfreiheit, or artistic freedom and said that criminal actions could not be proven with the necessary certainty .

In March Böhmermann had read a poem on state TV in which he lampooned the Turkish leader, arguing that he was doing so to test the boundaries of satire.

However, legal proceedings are still not over for Böhmermann. On 2 November, a Hamburg court will decide whether a private prosecution that Erdogan himself has brought against the comic can go ahead. In addition, laywers for Erdogan have reportedly lodged an appeal against the state prosecutor's decision to drop the case.

After the decision, Böhmermann lashed out at Merkel's government:

If a joke causes a constitutional crisis, it's not the joke that's the problem, it's the state

In a pre-recorded video statement which veered wildly in tone, he made light of the controversy and gave a bizarre rendition of the Monty Python song Always Look on the Bright Side of Life complete with a surprisingly convincing English accent. But he also signalled he was not prepared to back down and renewed his attack on Erdogan:

Compared to what critical journalists, satirists and opposition figures are going through in Turkey, all this fuss about the Böhmermann Affair is a big sad joke in itself. While you sit watch this video people are in prison in Turkey with no chance of a fair trial, their passports surrendered, their jobs lost, just because they took a critical look at their own country.

Meanwhile, their relatives in Germany are afraid to speak freely on the phone, because they fear reprisals against their loved ones in Turkey.