The Irish state has just banned an obscene novel. That is outrageous. As if it isn't bad enough that Ireland still has a Censorship of Publications Board, at the weekend we discovered that this archaic outfit is still active.
40 Iranian state-run media organisations have raised a further $600,000 (£420,000) to the bounty on Salman Rushdie's head. This backs the fatwa that has been running for the 27 years since Iran's first supreme leader, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, called
for Rushdie's murder following the publication of his novel The Satanic Verses.
The fatwa provoked an international outcry and caused the UK to sever diplomatic relations with Iran for nearly a decade. In 1998, Iran's former president Mohammad Khatami said the fatwa was finished , but it was never officially lifted and has
been reiterated several times, occasionally on the anniversary, by Iran's current supreme leader, Ali Khamenei, and other religious officials. Iran's deputy culture minister Seyed Abbas Salehi told Fars:
Imam Khomeini's fatwa is a religious decree and it will never lose its power or fade out,
Prominent campaigners have protested the re-awakened fatwa in a letter to the Guardian:
We are outraged to learn that 40 state-run media outlets in Iran have raised $600,000 (£420,000) to add as bounty to Ayatollah Khomeini's death fatwa on the writer Salman Rushdie because of his novel The Satanic Verses. We condemn the Iranian regime, its
fatwa and the added bounty. We stand with Rushdie and the many Iranian freethinkers and writers languishing in prison, or facing the death penalty, for exercising their right to free expression and thought.
The Iranian regime must face global condemnation for its incitement to murder. Democratic and secular governments should unequivocally condemn the regime's fatwa and bounty, demand their immediate cancellation, prioritise human rights and free
expression, and side with freethinkers rather than appeasing a theocratic regime.
AC Grayling Philosopher , Adil Hussain Activist , Afsaneh Vahdat Women's rights campaigner , Ali A. Rizvi Author of The Atheist Muslim , Ali al Razi CEMB Activist and writer , Aliaa Magda Elmahdy Activist , Alice Carr
President of Progressive Atheists of Australia , Annie Sugier President of Ligue du Droit International des Femmes , Anthony McIntyre Writer and historian , Ariane Brunet Centre for Secular Space , Asra Q. Nomani Author,
journalist, critical thinker and co-founder of Muslim Reform Movement , Ateizm Dernegi in Turkey , Author Jesus & Mo , Awat Farokhi Political activist , Becky Lavelle President Hull University, Secularist Atheist and
Humanist Society , Behzad Varpushty Human rights activist , Benjamin David President of Warwick Atheists Secularists and Humanists , Boris van der Ham Humanistisch Verbond (Dutch Humanist Society) , Caroline Fourest Author ,
Chris Moos Secularist activist , Christine M. Shellska President of Atheist Alliance International , Claire Kennedy Curator of TEDxExeter , Dan Barker and Annie Laurie Gaylor Co-presidents of Freedom From Religion Foundation ,
David Silverman President of American Atheists , Deeyah Khan Filmmaker and human rights activist , Derek Lennard Human rights campaigner , Dilip Simeon Labour historian and chairperson of the Aman Trust , Djemila Benhabib Journalist and writer ,
Elham Manea Academic and human rights advocate , Erin Dopp Activist , Faisal Saeed Al Mutar Iraqi-born writer and activist , Faramarz Ghorbani Political activist , Fariborz Pooya Host of Bread and Roses TV , Farzana
Hassan Author , Fateh Bahrami Political activist , Fauzia Ilyas Founder of Atheist & Agnostic Alliance Pakistan , Gita Sahgal Director of Centre for Secular Space , Halima Begum Ex-Muslim researcher and blogger , Harsh Kapoor
South Asia Citizens Web , Hasan Salehim Political activist , Hassan Radwan Founder of the Agnostic Muslims & Friends Facebook Group , Ibn Warraq Writer , Ibrahim Abdallah Muslimish NYC organiser , Inna Shevchenko
FEMEN Leader , Jane Donnelly Atheist Ireland , Joan Smith Author , Johann Hari Writer , John Perkins Secular Party of Australia , Julie Bindel Justice for Women and the Emma Humphreys Memorial Prize , Karrar Al
Asfoor Arab Atheists and Forum for Humanitarian Dialogue , Kate Smurthwaite Comedian and activist , Keyvan Javid Director of New Channel TV , Khalil Keyvan Political activist atheist and ex-political prisoner , Kiran Opal Feminist writer and activist ,
Kojin Mirizayi President of the Kurdish Society at the University of Kent , Lalia Ducos Women's Initiative for Citizenship and Universal Rights , Laura Guidetti Marea Magazine , Lisa-Marie Taylor Chair of Feminism in London ,
Lloyd Newson OBE , Maajid Nawaz Author and counter-extremism activist , Madhu Mehra Lawyer and executive director of Partners for Law in Development , Magdulien Abaida Libyan women's rights campaigner , Marieme Helie Lucas
Algerian sociologist and founder of Secularism is a Woman's Issue , Maryam Namazie Spokesperson for Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain One Law for All and Fitnah - Movement for Women's Liberation and Bread and Roses TV Producer , Masoud Azarnoush
Activist , Mersedeh Ghaedi London Spokesperson for Iran Tribunal , Michael Nugent Atheist Ireland , Mina Ahadi Coordinator of Council of Ex-Muslims of Germany and International Committee against Stoning , Mohamed Mahmoud Director of Centre for Critical Studies of Religion ,
Monica Lanfranco Marea Review , Mostafa Saber Marxist activist , Nahla Mahmoud Spokesperson of Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain , Naser Kashkooli Activist of the Worker-communist Party of Iran , Nina Sankari Polish
secularist and feminist , Peter Flack Leicester Social Forum , Peter Tatchell Human rights campaigner , Polly Toynbee Journalist , Pragna Patel Director of Southall Black Sisters , Ramin Forghani Founder of Ex-Muslims
of Scotland , Richard Dawkins Scientist , Roberto Malini Poet, writer and human rights defender, EveryOne Group , Ronald Lindsay President of Center for Inquiry , Rumana Hashem Founder of Community Women's blog and adviser to
Nari Diganta , Safia Lebdi President of Insoumis-es and founder of Free Arab Woman , Safwan Mason on behalf of the Council of ex-Muslims of New Zealand , Sam Harris Neuroscientist and author , Samir Noory Chairperson of
Committee for Abolishing Death Penalty in Iraq member of group "No to violence against women in Kirkuk" , Sanal Edamaruku President of Rationalist International , Sarah Peace Fireproof Library , Shelley Segal Singer/Songwriter ,
AC Grayling Philosopher , Sikivu Hutchinson Author Moral Combat: Black Atheists Gender Politics and the Values Wars , Soad Baba Aissa Association pour la Mixité l'Égalité et la Laïcité , Stephen Evans Campaigns manager of
National Secular Society , Stephen Law Philosopher , Sultana Kamal Bangladeshi lawyer and human rights activist , Terry Sanderson President of the National Secular Society , Tom Holland Author and historian , Waleed El
Husseini Founder of Council of Ex-Muslims of France , Yasmin Rehman Centre for Secular Space , Zari Asli Friends of Women in the Middle East Society
The Catholic Secular Forum (CSF), a Mumbai-based religious campaign group is calling for
the banning of the book Christ Parichay (introduction to Christ) claiming it somehow hurts religious sentiments of Christians.
The book by Ganesh Savarkar claims that Jesus Christ was a Tamil Hindu and that Christianity was a sect of Hinduism and that the Essence cult rescued Jesus Christ after he got crucified and revived him using herbs from the Himalayas.
Hitler's autobiography Mein Kampf (My Struggle) was long banned in
Germany where it was considered too dangerous for people to read. Now, it's a German best-seller.
An annotated version currently ranks second in nonfiction on the German weekly Der Spiegel's authoritative bestseller list,
It's almost certainly not because of anything German bookstores are doing: In fact, most had virtually hidden the book from customers, according to a BBC report in January. Some had refrained from advertising it, while others ordered only a single copy.
But online sales picked up, and in-store sales soon followed.
Critics have claimed that banning the book from being reprinted has added to the mystery surrounding it and did more harm than good.
However, the book that is currently topping the German bestseller lists is far different from Hitler's original version. The new 2,000-page edition is heavily annotated with remarks by experts to help put Hitler's comments into context.
A memoir apparently written by a Canadian serial killer has been withdrawn within hours of appearing for sale online.
Former multi-millionaire pig farmer Robert Pickton was convicted in 2007 of murdering six women. Charges relating to 20 other deaths were suspended. Another inmate helped him smuggle the book out of prison.
The publisher requested its removal from retailer Amazon and apologised to victims' families. Officials in British Columbia had earlier vowed to prevent Pickton, who says he is innocent, from profiting from sales of the memoir, entitled Pickton: In
His Own Words. Amazon users had also called for it to be removed.
British Columbian officials also asked Amazon to stop selling the memoir, which was published by Colorado-based Outskirts Press, a firm that specialises in helping authors self-publish books.
In the book, the serial killer said he was innocent and was framed for the killings by Canadian police, the Vancouver Sun reported .
Egyptian author Ahmed Naji has been given a two-year prison sentence for supposedly violating public
modesty after publishing a book with references to sex and drugs.
The case was initially overturned in January, but after an appeal by the prosecution the case returned to court and Naji was given the maximum possible sentence.
It was a private prosecution where charges against the author after an except of his novel The Guide for Using Life was published in the magazine Akhbar al-Adab . The editor of the magazine, Tarek El Taher, was also given a fine equivalent
Naji had previously said that The Guide for Using Life had been approved by the Egyptian censorship board.
Naji was detained in court and remained in custody as the preparations began for his appeal.
Mai El-Sadany, an expert on Egyptian law at the Robert F Kennedy Center for Human Rights in Washington DC said:
Today's verdict is a travesty for freedom of expression and justice more broadly. It comes in the context of a broader crackdown which has brought us the detention of academics at airports, the harassment of cartoonists for their artwork, and the raiding
of publishing houses
The culturally iconic comicbook Viz has had its brand page censored by Facebook .
The almost 40-year-old Viz, a parody of titles like Beano but with frequently risque language and humour, tweeted that Facebook has blocked its page. The message from Facebook warned that if the publisher makes an unsuccessful appeal to have the page
reinstated, it could face being permanently deleted.
Ian Westwood, group managing director at parent Dennis Publishing , said that Facebook has not said what content violated its content rules.
The question is what is, and isn't acceptable to Facebook, he said. We have had that Facebook page for five years. We have had correspondence with them before about stuff they haven't liked and we've taken it down. This time they have just blocked the
page and won't tell us what we've violated. We can appeal, but we don't know what we would be appealing about, we put up a significant number of posts from the print brand to social media each day.
Update: Facebook hangs its head in shame and apologises for censoring Viz
Facebook has apologised for blocking Viz magazine's brand page in 'error' . A spokeswoman for Facebook UK implied that Viz's frequently risque
language and humour had triggered the content block, but that should not have been grounds for removing the Facebook page. She unconvincingly claimed:
We want Facebook to be a place where people can express their opinions and challenge ideas, including through satire and comedy. Upon further review we found that the Viz page had been removed in error. We have now restored it and would like to apologise
for any inconvenience caused.
Offsite Comment: Mark Zuckerberg and his unfeasibly strict censorship
Free speech campaigners in America have protested about a book being pulled after politically correct pressure from those who claim the right to dictate how books about slavery should be written. The campaigners note that the ban will lead authors to shy
away from taking on racially sensitive ... topics for fear of public outcry and reprisals .
A Birthday Cake for George Washington , by author Ramin Ganeshram and illustrator Vanessa Brantley-Newton, is narrated by the daughter of George Washington's slave, Hercules, who is preparing a cake for the president's birthday.
In a review, School Library Journal accused the book of providing a dangerously rosy impression of the relationship between slaves and slave owners that it could give to young readers. It said that the light tone of the text and the colourful, cartoon-style
illustrations convey a feeling of joyfulness that contrasts starkly with the reality of slave life .
The PC censorship campaign then grew under the hashtag #slaverywithasmile. Then last week publisher Scholastic bowed to the pressure and withdrew the book from sale.
Campaigners hailed the decision as a victory, but the National Coalition Against Censorship and the PEN American Center have now released a statement criticising Scholastic's move. NCAC executive director Joan Bertin said:
While reasonable people can disagree about the book's historical or literary merit, Scholastic's decision to pull it in response to controversy is a shocking and nearly unprecedented case of self-censorship.
Those who value free speech as an essential human right and a necessary precondition for social change should be alarmed whenever books are removed from circulation because they are controversial.
While it is perfectly valid for critics to dispute a book's historical accuracy and literary merit, the appropriate response is not to withdraw the volume and deprive readers of a chance to evaluate the book and the controversy for themselves. In the
case of A Birthday Cake for George Washington, a book is gone that generated important discussions about how our nation creates, perceives and perpetuates narratives about slavery and slave ownership.
[Pulling the book] is likely to have a chilling effect, leading authors and illustrators to hesitate in taking on racially sensitive or politically controversial topics for fear of public outcry and reprisals .
Iran has banned the use of the word wine as well as the names of foreign animals and certain foreign presidents .
Iran's Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance is imposing the ban to counter a Western cultural onslaught . Mohammad Selgi, head of book censorship at the ministry, said:
When new books are registered with us, our staff first has to read them page by page to make sure whether they require any editorial changes in line with promoting the principles of the Islamic revolution, effectively confronting the Western cultural
onslaught and censoring any insult against the prophets.
Words like wine and the names of foreign animals and pets, as well as names of certain foreign presidents are also banned under the new restricting regulations.
According to BBC Persia , Selgi also spoke out against books on psychology that cite masturbation as a treatment method.
Another associate of a Hong Kong bookshop specialising in titles critical of the Chinese government appears to have disappeared.
Last month four other employees of the same bookshop and publishing house, including its owner, went missing.
Their colleagues believe they have been detained because of their work.
The latest associate to be reported missing is the man who raised the alarm when his colleagues disappeared in October. Mr Lee spoke to the BBC when his colleagues disappeared but did not want to disclose his full name at the time fearing reprisals.
He failed to arrive home on Wednesday evening and his wife has been unable to reach him. She told the BBC she is deeply afraid. One of his colleagues said Mr Lee was taken away by unknown men and the fear is that Chinese officials have reached beyond
mainland China to punish them for their work, our correspondent Juliana Liu in Hong Kong reports.
Two of the previous four men who disappeared were last seen in Shenzhen, mainland China, where their wives live; one was last seen in Hong Kong; and the other, the owner of the publishing house, was last heard from by email from Pattaya, Thailand, where
he owns a holiday home.
The Causeway Bay Bookstore sells gossipy paperbacks that are highly critical of the Chinese leadership and are said to be popular among mainland tourists visiting Hong Kong.
Update: Abductions of book sellers by Chinese police achieves its aims
Hong Kong book stores have understandably pulled titles that are critical of the Chinese government after presumed police abduction of book sellers.
Reading material banned on the Chinese mainland has been pulled from the shelves of at least one Hong Kong bookstore in response to the disappearance of bookseller Lee Bo.
English-language-focused Page One, which has a total of eight outlets in the city -- six of them at Hong Kong International Airport -- is understood to have begun withdrawing material banned by China from sale in late November, around the time the first
of five men linked to Causeway Bay Books went missing.
When a South China Morning Post reporter posing as a customer approached Page One's Tsim Sha Tsui store and asked for a book called The Secret Deals Between Xi Jinping and Bo Xilai, the salesman said the retailer had stopped selling banned books more
than a month ago. the reporter said:
We were told to take all politically sensitive books off the shelves in late November. The manager did not tell us the reason, but said Page One would no longer sell banned books ever again.
Banned books were often among the top selling items in Page One's Hong Kong outlets and were placed in prominent areas at airport stores, from where mainland tourists would buy and smuggle them to elsewhere in the country. The publishing of sensational
books on the inner workings of the Communist Party and the private lives of government officials has brought good returns for a number of booksellers.
Update: Chinese authorities parade censored bookseller on TV
A Hong Kong publisher reported missing last October has appeared on Chinese state TV. The Chinese police spun the unlikely sounding an explanation that the incarceration was somehow about a hit and run prosecution 10 years earlier.
Public confessions have long been a part of China's criminal law, but experts say many confessions are forced.
Beijing has strongly criticised Britain for suggesting that a Hong Kong bookseller detained by China was involuntarily removed to the mainland , accusing Britain of interfering in Chinese domestic affairs.
Britain on Friday released a report describing the disappearance of Lee Bo, who holds a British passport and published books critical of Chinese politics, as a serious breach of an agreement signed with Beijing before Hong Kong was handed back to
China in 1997. They were Britain's strongest comments yet on the case that has rocked Hong Kong , adding to growing fears that freedoms are being eroded in the semi-autonomous city.
Beijing hit back, claiming London was making groundless accusations against China . Foreign ministry spokesman Hong Lei said in a statement:
Hong Kong affairs are China's domestic affairs. We ask the British side to mind its words and actions and stop interfering in Hong Kong affairs.