Pakistan pulled the plug again on YouTube just hours after unblocking the site following a months-long blackout. The order
for the censorship came directly from Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf.
Previously Ashraf in September had ordered YouTube blocked after it refused to remove the anti-Islam video. Innocence of Muslims.
Earlier on Saturday the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) notified all Internet companies to immediately unblock/restore YouTube until further notice. Interior Minister Rehman Malik had said earlier said on Twitter that the decision to
allow access again was due to huge public demand.
But hours later Ashraf, after officials had said measures were being taken to filter out blasphemous material and pornography, ordered PTA to cut access. The prime minister has issued orders to block YouTube again, a senior official in Ashraf's
office told AFP,.
The privately run Geo television network reported that Ashraf issued the orders to block YouTube after it showed a report saying blasphemous content was still accessible.
A court in Pakistan has ordered a continuation of the block on YouTube in the country, after the government argued that a removal of the ban would have implications on law and order in the country.
YouTube was banned in Pakistan in September over a controversial video clip, called Innocence of Muslims , which mocked the religious character Muhammad. The country's telecom regulator said it was blocking the entire site as it was not
able to separately block individual URLs (uniform resource locators) linking to copies of the video.
The plaintiff, Bytes For All, Pakistan, has argued that the PTA has Internet filtering technology that can now be used to selectively block individual pages.
Bytes for All had asked the court for an interim order unblocking YouTube. We wanted the government to go ahead and block the 700 to 800 URLs with the blasphemous content, and remove the block on the rest of the site.
Justice Mansoor Ali Shah of the Lahore High Court noted that the ban on YouTube is negatively impacting citizens, specially students, and asked the government to resolve the issue with information technology experts, and submit a report by July 25 on how
to deal with the blasphemous URLs and make the rest of the platform available, Ahmad said.
A member of India's upper house in parliament, Parimal Nathwani, has claimed that there is an urgent need
to re-look at censoring of films and that 'threadbare' censorship laws need to be reviewed.
In a statement condoling the death of the Delhi gang rape victim, he said that while a strict punishment for crime against women was imperative to set deterrents in the system, at the same time, he said, stringent scrutiny of the sex, violence and
crime-related aspects in Hindi cinema was also the need of the hour. And to show off his depth of thinking, he spouted:
The argument that 'spectators want it and that is why we show it' is just rubbish. Also, to tell that films show what happens in the society is also untrue.
He demanded complete overhaul and restructuring of the censorship systems and laws, adding that the way in which sex and crime were projected in films had an adverse influence on sinful minds who were tempted to venture into such crimes.
The Broadcasting Content Complaints Council (BCCC) has issued an advisory
to India broadcasters whingeing at double entendres in comedy.
According to BCCC staff, there is a lot of double-meaning language being used in comedy shows, and sometimes it crosses the line towards vulgarity on various channels, and they have received complaints regarding it. AP Shah, BCCC Chairperson, spouted in
Comedy is an intrinsic part of our life and it is only natural that TV channels produce and telecast programmes that are humorous and light-hearted. The BCCC, however, feels that the line that divides healthy comedy from vulgarity, obscenity and
double-meaning language must be strictly adhered to.
This is necessary to ensure that the social message sent across through various comedy shows to millions of viewers does not overstep this all-important threshold. We are confident that the channels which telecast comedy shows will keep this in mind.
The organisation, a self-censorship body for non-news general entertainment channels, has also asked channels to pay special attention to the issue of the supposed sexualisation of children on television shows.
Pakistan's leading arts college has sparked an uproar in Pakistan. A series of paintings depicting Muslim clerics in
scenes with strong homosexual overtones has led to the inevitable threats of violence by muslim extremists..
The National College of Arts in Lahore shut down its Journal of Contemporary Art and Culture, which published the paintings, pulled all its issues out of bookstores and dissolved its editorial board. The controversial pictures were a series of paintings
by artist Muhammad Ali.
A court is now considering whether the paintings' artist, the journal's board and the school's head can be charged with blasphemy.
Two works were claimed to have insulted Islam by mixing images of Muslim clerics with suggestions of homosexuality. One titled Call for Prayer shows a cleric and a shirtless young boy sitting beside each other on a cot. The cleric fingers rosary
beads as he gazes at the boy, who stretches backward with his hands clasped behind his head.
A second painting shows the same cleric reclining in front of a Muslim shrine, holding a book by Brazilian novelist Paulo Coelho in one hand as he lights a cigarette for a young boy with the other. A second young boy, who is naked with his legs
strategically crossed to cover his genitals, sits at the cleric's feet. The painting has caused particular uproar because verses from the Quran, appear on the shrine.
Mumtaz Mangat, a lawyer who petitioned the courts to impose blasphemy charges, argued the first image implied the cleric had fun with the boy before conducting the traditional Muslim call for prayer.
Jamaat-ud-Dawa, widely believed to be a front for the Lashkar-e-Taiba militant group, issued a statement after the paintings were published demanding the college issue a public apology and withdraw all issues of the journal.
College staff members also began receiving anonymous text messages threatening violence, said a member of the journal's editorial board.
The writer, producer and actor of the movie Sadda Haq , Kuljinder Singh Sidhu, has contacted the Sikh Parliament (SGPC) alleging
that India's Central Board of Film Certification has been unfair in terming some dialogue from the film as objectionable and so banning the film.
According to Sidhu, among the content highlighted as Objectionable by the Censor Board, is the main character saying Raj Karega Khalsa and another dialogue based on Guru Gobind Singh's famous tenet where he advocates the use of weapons when
all peaceful means of redressing a wrong stand fails.
Sidhu added that the Censor Board has objected on a dialogue where a character says:
Sikh religion is yet not considered and respected as independent religion and hence is treated as part of other religion.
The board has raised objections on 20 scenes and dialogues and placed a blanket ban on its release saying it is not fit for release.
When contacted, SGPC president Avtar Singh Makkar said: Raj Karega Khalsa is a slogan given by our Guru. Who is the Censor Board to object to this? After watching the film, we will take up the matter with the Censor Board.
The film, which according to Sidhu is based on militancy period in Punjab, was slated to be released on October 26. The film was shown to the Censor Board on October 16 and 25. They decided to forward the same to review committee, which saw
the film on November 14 and 21. The board conveyed its objections on 20 scenes and dialogues putting a blanket ban on its release.
India's film censorship board is vying to get the word Indian in its title, which would bring it in tune with its foreign counterparts and
address. Well-placed sources said that the Board has already written to the Information and Broadcasting ministry seeking that it be renamed to Indian Board of Film Certification from the current Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC).
The source said:
In most nations, the film certification body is identified with the country. Like there is the British Board of Film Classification or the Motion Pictures Association of America. The use of the word 'central' suggests the presence of state
boards which is not the case with films.
Secondly, the use of the word 'Indian' would also help that when our films are screened in film festivals abroad, their identity would be more widely known.
The Board also wants its certificates to carry the film classification as well as the reason for that classification to be carried very prominently.
The Board is hopeful that the name change would be cleared by the ministry and has already got a logo with the proposed name designed by the National Institute of Design.
The Punjabi film Sadda Haq that depicts real life events from the days of terrorism in Punjab in the early 80s, has been
banned in India before its release.
Banning the film's release, the Censor Board cited the depiction of certain events portrayed in the film as objectionable.
Scriptwriter Kuljinder Singh Sidhu said:
History repeats itself when mistakes committed in history are not checked and improved upon. So, we were hoping this film turns out to be an eye-opener for everyone, the government and the people. There are two plots in this film. The first
portrays times of militancy and the second reveals the viewpoint of today's youth pertaining to those times.
Punjab transport minister Ajit Singh Kohar has banned drivers from playing vulgar and provocative songs in the state-run transport buses
supposedly as a preventive measure against fatal accidents.
According to Kohar, vulgar music is a great distraction for those behind the wheel:
Frequent playing of vulgar music in buses not only generates mental pollution among passengers but is also instrumental in fatal accidents due to distraction.
The minister has issued the ban orders to the state transport department, asking officials to implement the same with immediate effect.
Special teams will soon be set up to conduct random checks on the state transport buses, said a senior official of the transport department.
Agreeing that there has not been any bus accident caused by vulgar music in recent memory, the officials added that prevention is always better than cure . The officials said the state censor board would be of great help in identifying
supposedly vulgar songs.
Student of the YearKaran Johar's latest film, Student Of The Year , has hit rough weather. Radha, the
song from the movie has caught the ire of Hindu Janajagruti Samiti (HJS), a right wing organisation.
Members of HJS demonstrated in Goa's capital Panaji, demanding that the Censor Board ban the movie for derogatory references to Radha, the mythological character, who was Lord Krishna's lover and childhood friend. The organisation claimed that
calling Radha sexy as the song's lyrics do, is an insult to the sentiments of Hindus.
Recently, a voluntary organisation in Indore too had moved a petition before a local court seeking action against Johar and singer Shreya Ghoshal, among others, for using objectionable words against Hindu deities in a song. Names of Radha and
Krishna are being misused to promote the song, Shri Vision Social Empowerment and Welfare Association secretary Manish Vishnoi had said in a statement.
West Bengal's administration came under fire after it stopped the screening of Bengali film Teen Kanya .
The screening of the film was stopped at the state-run Star Theatre in north Kolkata pparently on the grounds that it carries an anti-state message. The film had been passed by India's film censors.
The film portrays the controversial Park Street rape incident. After the Park Street incident, the chief minister had come under fire for blaming the victim for the crime. Mamata Banarjee had gone to the extent of calling the woman a CPM cadre
and the rape, a political conspiracy.
State home secretary Basudeb Banerjee claimed the government played no role in banning the screening.
India's cabinet has approved the introduction of an amendment to the Indecent Representation of Women (Prohibition) Act of 1986 in the
forthcoming winter session of Parliament. This increases the penalties for making supposedly indecent exposure of women and extends the scope of the law to cover audio-visual media including SMS, Internet, etc. The original law was limited to
the print media.
The key amendments include raising the penalty to a maximum of three years of jail and fine of Rs 50,000-Rs 1 lakh. The second conviction will entail imprisonment of two to seven years and a fine of Rs 1 lakh to Rs 5 lakh.
The law was enacted in 1986 to prohibit supposedly indecent depiction of women through advertisements, publication, writing and painting. Officials claim the proposed amendments were finalised after extensive consultations with the stakeholders,
including lawyers and civil society representatives.
In a fresh blow to filmmakers, four major TV broadcasters have decided not to purchase A rated films. Not even if
the producers in question or the censors clip the objectionable portions and hand them a modified version to be broadcast.
The broadcasters also added that in the event they purchase a film well before its release and it then gets rated A a week or two before hitting theatres, they will be left with no option but to terminate the contract.
Confirming the development, Jayantilal Gada, CMD of PEN India, the acquisition agency for Zee TV, told TOI:
We have decided we will not buy an A' film. We hardly bought any films in the past that were unfit for family viewing. Zee TV is a family channel and it has decided to remain so always.
Besides, why indulge in investment where neither the returns nor the viewership is according to expectations?
Sony Entertainment Television, which has been a lead player in broadcasting films with controversial content, categorically told some filmmakers about the channel's new policy. Mahesh Bhatt told TOI:
A very highly placed representative of Sony told me they had taken a decision they would not buy films that get an A certificate from the Censor Board. She said even those films that are modified to a U/A rating for TV viewing will not qualify.
This will create chaos in the film industry. Makers will have to do a rethink on content.
STAR Gold and Movies OK and Colors are 2 other broadcasters following the leadof Sony and Zee TV.
The government in the western Indian state of Maharashtra has dropped sedition charges against
anti-corruption cartoonist Aseem Trivedi.
In one of a series of cartoons, he replaced the customary three lions in India's national emblem with three wolves, their teeth dripping blood, with the message Long live corruption written underneath. Another cartoon depicted the Indian
parliament as a giant toilet bowl.
The police arrested him and accused him of insulting national symbols. We was freed from prison on bail after an outcry.
Many Indians criticised his arrest saying it was an attack on freedom of expression.
Update: Not so Fast. Cartoonist still facing charges
After intense public pressure, the Maharashtra state government last week dropped the charge of sedition against Indian cartoonist Aseem Trivedi. However, Trivedi still faces other charges as his case resumes at the Bombay High court.
The cartoonist could have been sentenced to life imprisonment if convicted of sedition. However he still faces up to three years in prison for other charges including violation of the Prevention of Insult to National Honour Act and Information
Technology Act, his lawyer Vijay Hiremath told CPJ by e-mail.
Alok Dixit, Trivedi's friend and founder of Internet freedom campaign Save Your Voice, told CPJ by phone:
We are pleased that the sedition charge has been removed as [the Home Ministry] promised. But we are prepared to fight the remaining charges.
Update: The Indian political cartoonist the government doesn't want you to know about
After his 2012 arrest Trivedi spent most of the next three years in court, dividing his time between his own case and a legal challenge against the IT Act's controversial section 66A, which imposes up to three years imprisonment for sharing offensive
The sedition charges were finally thrown out by the Bombay High Court in March 2015. Two weeks later, the Supreme Court ruled that section 66A - under which a number of people had been arrested over the past couple of years, including a Mumbai
school girl - was unconstitutional. The law was being used quite frequently to arrest people, and it had created an atmosphere of fear, Trivedi says. So when the Supreme Court struck it down, it sent out the message that free speech is
something worth protecting.
Cinemas in Nepal have stopped screening Bollywood movies because they fear violence after a breakaway Communist Party group claimed that the films
are vulgar and unsuitable for the Nepalese society.
The Communist Party of Nepal-Maoist is demanding the government give priority to locally made movies and strictly censor Hindi films. Party spokesperson Pumpha Bhusal said it was giving the government until next week to comply.
The party is a breakaway group of the main Communist Party in Nepal and has a history of past violence against its opponents.
The state government of Maharashtra has said that it wanted a ban on alcohol and smoking scenes in movies and would request
the Centre to amend laws.
Minister of state for social justice and de-addiction activities Sachin Ahir told reporters:
Several rounds of discussions have taken place in committees headed by the Chief Minister and the social justice and de-addiction activities minister on the need to prevent depiction of smoking and drinking in films.
It has been decided to write to the Centre to amend censorship laws to ban such scenes. If a film's plot requires such scenes, cigarette and alcohol should be blurred or edited .
Ahir said that the censor board is subject to national law and may not be able to impose such a ban. However Ahir noted that 80% of Marathi films received grants from the state government:
We are asking the culture affairs ministry, which provides the grants, to make it mandatory for filmmakers seeking finance to ensure they do not have smoking and drinking scenes in their movies.
The movie Kamaal Dhamaal Malamaal has ruffled nutter feathers before its release.
Christians complained of supposedly objectionable scenes:
a priest dancing in a party with a person lying in a coffin with the crucifix beside him
the portrayal of a Catholic priest dancing with a lottery garland around his neck, with the church in the background.
However the scenes supposedly objectionable to the sentiments of Catholics have now been deleted from the film following the information & broadcasting ministry's intervention, a rights group said.
Accordingly, Catholic groups in Maharashta have withdrawn their protest and boycott of the movie. Judith Monteiro, secretary of the Association of Concerned Catholics (AOCC), said that representatives of various front-ranking groups watched the
movie on opening day:
This is a victory of sorts for maintaining sensitivity while dealing with religion in the film industry. We have always been taken for granted just because we do no resort to violence. Hopefully, this will serve as a deterrent for future
Bishop Agnelo Gracias of the Archdoicese of Mumbai said:
I'm happy that the objectionable scenes have been deleted. Every religion should be treated with the respect it deserves. I hope the Censor Board will maintain caution in future while granting certification to movies.
However, Catholic groups are still firm on their other two demands: removal of Censor Board chief executive officer Prajakta Thakur; and nomination of a permanent Christian representative for film certification.