Religious Watch

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 Update: Fighting terrorism...

Ofcom imposes large fine for Afghanistan channel that glorified terrorism


Link Here 7th July 2017  full story: Ofcom on Religion...ofcom keep religious extremism in check
atn logoOn 20 July 2016, Ariana International broadcast a news item which featured a video produced by an individual, Muhammad Riyad, before he carried out a terrorist attack on a train in Germany where he injured five people. Ofcom wrote:

Ariana International is a general entertainment channel originating from Afghanistan, and broadcast by satellite in the UK.

On 20 July 2016, the Licensee broadcast a news item which featured a video produced by an individual, Muhammad Riyad, before he carried out an attack on a train in Germany where he injured five people.

In the video, Muhammad Riyad stated that he was a "Mujahid [holy warrior] of Islamic State". He also stated his and ISIL's intentions to carry out acts of extreme violence against members of the public and his words could be interpreted as being a direct call to action to members of the Muslim community to join ISIL and to commit violence, up to, and including murder, against members of the police and the army in the West.

The news item made clear that "Daish" have now accepted that this young man [i.e. Mr Riyad] was one of their followers". In addition, it has bee n widely reported that several individuals, such as Muhammad Riyad, have been inspired to carry out acts of violence in the name of ISIL.

Ofcom's Executive found that material in the Ariana News programme breached Rules 2.3, 3.1 and 3.2 of the Code.

Rule 3.1: Material likely to encourage or to incite the commission of crime or to lead to disorder must not be included in television or radio services.

Rule 3.2: Material which contains hate speech must not be included in television and radio programmes except where it is justified by the context.

Ofcom's Decision is that the appropriate sanction should be a financial penalty of £200,000. Ofcom also considers that the Licensee should be directed to broadcast a statement of Ofcom's findings, on a date and in a form to be determined by Ofcom.

 

 Update: Burning passion for free speech...

Denmark repeals its blasphemy law and drops a prosecution for Quran burning


Link Here 5th June 2017  full story: Blasphemy in Denmark...Danish Not So Free Speech
Denmark flagA Danish man who posted a video of himself burning the Quran on Facebook will not stand trial after politicians abolished an outdated blasphemy law.

The man was seen setting a large leather-bound copy of the holy book alight in a four-minute clip called Consider your neighbour: it stinks when it burns.

He faced up to four months in prison after prosecutors were alerted to the footage, which was posted to a Facebook group called Yes to freedom -- no to Islam in December 2015. They brought blasphemy charges under clause 140 of Denmark's penal code, which bars people from publicly insulting or degrading religious doctrines or worship.

But the case has been dropped after Danish MPs revoked the 334-year-old legislation, and declared they do not believe that there should be special rules protecting religions against expressions. MP Bruno Jerup told the Jyllands-Posten newspaper:

Religion should not dictate what is allowed and what is forbidden to say publicly.  It gives religion a totally unfair priority in society.

Threatening or degrading behaviour based on people's religious beliefs will still be punishable under other Danish laws.

 

  Symbolic censorship...

Statue of justice removed from the Bangladesh Supreme Court


Link Here 26th May 2017
themis dhakaWorkers have begun to dismantle the statue of a Greek goddess from Bangladesh's Supreme Court complex, after an outcry from muslim extremists.

The sculpture of Themis, the goddess of justice, wearing a sari was less than six months old, but Islamist groups demanded its removal. They claimed it hurt the religious sentiments of Muslims. The censorship had been demanded at mass protests in Dhaka. The protesters claimed that the figure, which held the familiar sword and scales of justice in her hands, amounted to idolatry.

The statue's creator  Mrinal Haque said it is being removed to maintain peace.

 

 Update: Ending the god given right to ban the criticism of religion...

Petitioners call for the abolition of Denmark's blasphemy law


Link Here 16th May 2017  full story: Blasphemy in Denmark...Danish Not So Free Speech

Denmark flagDenmark's blasphemy ban was recently revived when a man was charged for burning the Quran. Signatories argue that an expression grossly offensive to religious believers merits protection as peaceful 'free speech'.

We the undersigned respectfully urge the Danish Parliament to vote in favour of bill L 170 repealing the blasphemy ban in section 140 of the Danish criminal code, punishing "Any person who, in public, ridicules or insults the dogmas or worship of any lawfully existing religious community".

Denmark is recognized as a global leader when it comes to the protection of human rights and freedom of expression. However, Denmark's blasphemy ban is manifestly inconsistent with the Danish tradition for frank and open debate, and puts Denmark in the same category as illiberal states where blasphemy laws are being used to silence dissent and persecute minorities. The recent decision to charge a man -- who had burned the Quran -- for violating section 140 for the first time since 1971, demonstrates that the blasphemy ban is not merely of symbolic value. It represents a significant retrograde step in the protection of freedom of expression in Denmark.

The Danish blasphemy ban is incompatible with both freedom of expression and equality before the law. There is no compelling reason why the feelings of religious believers should receive special protection against offense. In a vibrant and pluralistic democracy, all issues must be open to even harsh and scathing debate, criticism and satire. While the burning of holy books may be grossly offensive to religious believers it is nonetheless a peaceful form of symbolic expression that must be protected by free speech.

Numerous Danes have offended the religious feelings of both Christians and Muslims without being charged under section 140. This includes a film detailing the supposed erotic life of Jesus Christ, the burning of the Bible on national TV and the publication of cartoons depicting the prophet Muhammed. The Cartoon affair landed Denmark in a storm of controversy and years of ongoing terrorist threats against journalists, editors and cartoonists. When terror struck in February 2015 the venue was a public debate on blasphemy and free speech.

In this environment Denmark must maintain that in a liberal democracy laws protect those who offend from threats, not those who threaten from being offended. In this environment Denmark must maintain that in a liberal democracy laws protect those who offend from threats, not those who threaten from being offended.Retaining the blasphemy ban is also incompatible with Denmark's human rights obligations. In April 2017 Council of Europe Secretary General Thorbjørn Jagtland emphasized that "blasphemy should not be deemed a criminal offence as the freedom of conscience forms part of freedom of expression". This position is shared by the UN's Human Rights Committee and the EU Guidelines on Freedom of Expression and Religion.

Since 2014,The Netherlands, Norway, Iceland and Malta have all abolished blasphemy bans. By going against this trend Denmark will undermine the crucial European and international efforts to repeal blasphemy bans globally.

This has real consequences for human beings, religious and secular, around the globe. In countries like Pakistan, Mauritania, Iran, Indonesia and Russia blasphemy bans are being used against minorities and political and religious dissenters. Denmark's blasphemy ban can be used to legitimize such laws. In 2016 the UN Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Religion or Belief pointed out that "During a conference held in Jeddah (Saudi Arabia) [in 2015], the Danish blasphemy provision was cited by one presenter as an example allegedly indicating an emerging international customary law on "combating defamation of religions".

Blasphemy laws often serve to legitimize violence and terror. In Pakistan, Nigeria and Bangladesh free thinkers, members of religious minorities and atheists have been killed by extremists. In a world where freedom of expression is in retreat and extremism on the rise, democracies like Denmark must forcefully demonstrate that inclusive, pluralistic and tolerant societies are built on the right to think, believe and speak freely. By voting to repeal the blasphemy ban Denmark will send a clear signal that it stands in solidarity with the victims and not the enforcers of blasphemy laws.

Jacob Mchangama, Executive director, Justitia
Steven Pinker, Professor Harvard University
Ahmedur Rashid Chowdhury, Exiled editor of Shuddhashar, 2016 winner International Writer of Courage Award
Pascal Bruckner, Author
Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Human Rights Activist Founder of AHA Foundation,
Dr. Elham Manea, academic and human rights advocate (Switzerland)
Sultana Kamal, Chairperson, Centre for Social Activism Bangladesh
Deeyah Khan, CEO @Fuuse & founder @sister_hood_mag.
Fatou Sow, Women Living Under Muslim Laws
William Nygaard, Publisher
Flemming Rose, Author and journalist
Jodie Ginsberg, CEO, Index on Censorship
Kenan Malik, Author of From Fatwa to Jihad
Thomas Hughes, Executive Director Article 19
Suzanne Nossel, executive director of PEN America
Pragna Patel - Director of Southall Black Sisters
Leena Krohn, Finnish writer
Jeanne Favret-Saada, Honorary Professor of Anthropology, Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes,
Maryam Namazie, Spokesperson, Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain
Fariborz Pooya, Host of Bread and Roses TV
Frederik Stjernfelt, Professor, University of Aalborg in Copenhagen
Marieme Helie Lucas, Secularism Is A Women's Issue
Michael De Dora, Director of Government Affairs, Center for Inquiry
Robyn Blumner, President & CEO, Center for Inquiry
Nina Sankari, Kazimierz Lyszczynski Foundation (Poland).
Sonja Biserko, Founder and president of the Helsinki Committee for Human Rights in Serbia
James Lindsay, Author
Mahal Mali, Publisher and editor, Areo Magazine
Julie Lenarz - Executive Director, Human Security Centre, London
Terry Sanderson President, National Secular Society
Greg Lukianoff, CEO and President, FIRE
Thomas Cushman, Professor Wellesley College
Nadine Strossen, John Marshall Harlan II Professor of Law, New York Law School
Simon Cottee, the Freedom Project, Wellesley College
Paul Cliteur, professor of Jurisprudence at Leiden University
Lino Veljak, University of Zagreb, Croatia
Lalia Ducos, Women's Initiative for Citizenship and Universals Rights , WICUR
Lepa Mladjenovic, LC, Belgrade
Elsa Antonioni, Casa per non subire violenza, Bologna
Bobana Macanovic, Autonomos Women's Center, Director, Belgrade
Harsh Kapoor, Editor, South Asia Citizens Web
Mehdi Mozaffari, Professor Em., Aarhus University, Denmark
Øystein Rian, Historian, Professor Emeritus University of Oslo
Kjetil Jakobsen, Professor Nord University
Scott Griffen, Director of Press Freedom Programmes International Press Institute (IPI)
Henryk Broder, Journalist
David Rand, President, Libres penseurs athées, Atheist freethinkers Tom Herrenberg, Lecturer University of Leiden
Simone Castagno, Coordinamento Liguria Rainbow
Laura Caille, Secretary General Libres Mariannes General
Andy Heintz, writer
Bernice Dubois, Conseil Européen des Fédérations WIZO

 

 Updated: Why are people so ready to believe ludicrous claims?...

Irish police investigate Stephen Fry for blasphemy over an old TV programme highlighting the nastiness and injustice of God


Link Here 9th May 2017  full story: Blasphemy in Ireland...Irish politicians enact blasphemy law
stephen fry gay byrne video Police in Ireland are investigating a complaint of blasphemy regarding comments made by Stephen Fry on a television programme shown on Ireland's state broadcaster, RTE in 2015?.

Under Ireland's Defamation Act 2009 a person who publishes or utters blasphemous material shall be guilty of an offence .

While being interviewed on The Meaning of Life TV programme, Fry was asked what he would say to God if he had a chance. Fry replied:

I'd say 'Bone cancer in children, what's that about?' How dare you create a world in which there is such misery that is not our fault. It's not right. It's utterly, utterly evil. Why should I respect a capricious, mean-minded, stupid god who creates a world which is so full of injustice and pain?

Fry's humerous and powerful reply on YouTube has been viewed more than seven million times.

A member of the public, who asked not to be identified, said he made the complaint against Fry more than two years ago at Ennis garda station in County Clare. After hearing nothing for 18 months, the complainant wrote to the head of the Irish police, Commissioner Noirín O'Sullivan. The man was then contacted by a detective from Donnybrook garda station in Dublin to say they were looking into the blasphemy claim.

Gardai logoUpdate: Police see the light and drop the prosecution

9th May 2017 See  article from independent.co.uk

An Irish police investigation into allegedly blasphemous comments made by Stephen Fry has been dropped after detectives decided there were not enough people who had been outraged by the remarks. A source told the Irish Independent:

This man was simply a witness and not an injured party. Gardai were unable to find a substantial number of outraged people. For this reason the investigation has been concluded.

Offsite Comment: Stephen Fry and the new blasphemy laws  

9th May 2017 See  article from spiked-online.com

Spiked logoThe complaint itself should not worry us. Of far greater significance is the fact that the police feel compelled to take complaints like this seriously. One would expect them to point out that a citizen's private sensibilities are no concern for the state, and that even unpleasant people may exercise their right to say unpleasant things.

...Read the full  article from spiked-online.com

 

 Update: Derogatory censorship...

India's film censors re-affirm their ban of the gay film Ka Bodyscapes.


Link Here 8th March 2017  full story: Banned Movies in India...Sex, religion and easy offence
Poster Ka Bodyscapes 2016 Jayan Cherian Ka Bodyscapes is a 2016 India / USA gay drama by Jayan Cherian.
Starring Adhithi, Tinto Arayani and Arundhathi. IMDb

Three young people, Haris, a gay painter; Vishnu, a rural kabaddi player and their friend Sia, an activist who refuse to conform to dominant norms of femininity, struggle to find space and happiness in a conservative Indian City.

Ka Bodyscapes was originally banned by the Indian film censors of the CBFC in July 2016.

The distributors challenged the ban in court resulting in a September 2016 court order for the censors to explain their ban and to consider possible cuts instead.

But the CBFC decided to appeal against the court order and re-affirmed their ban in March 2017. A 2nd Revising Committee from the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) has refused to certify the Malayalam film Ka Bodyscapes, saying it glorified the subject of gay and homosexual relationship and portrayed the Hindu religion in a derogatory manner by showing Hanuman in poor light as gay . It also objected to the portrayal of a Muslim woman masturbating.

 

 Update: Backward looking...

Denmark resurrects old style blasphemy law to prosecute a man for burning a Koran


Link Here 1st March 2017  full story: Blasphemy in Denmark...Danish Not So Free Speech
Denmark flagDenmark is one of the most rational and least religious countries in the world. Yet as of this week, it is one of the very few countries in the Western world where a blasphemy law is in active use.

The country's state prosecution service has decided to bring blasphemy charges (and the suggestion of a fine, not a prison term) against a man who burned a copy of the Koran in his garden and then posted the video on an anti-Islamic Facebook group.

Denmark has considered abolishing blasphemy but a panel of experts recommended in favour of letting the sleeping dog lie. Until this week, the blasphemy law had not been used since 1971, and in fact the last successful prosecution was in 1946.

The Economist commented:

Using the old-fashioned charge of blasphemy (with the implication that religions or philosphical systems have a right to be shielded from attack) is surely the worst possible signal that a liberal democracy could send to a world where trumped-up or malicious charges of blasphemous behaviour are causing untold suffering, from the cities of Punjab to the villages of Nigeria.

 

  The wrong kind of 'free speech'...

Turkish magazine closed down over cartoon deemed offensive


Link Here 18th February 2017
girgir banned cartoonThe publisher of one of Turkey's most prominent cartoon magazines  shut down the weekly and fired all its staff over a cartoon of Moses it deemed to be offensive. The publisher sad in a statement:

The decision has been taken for the magazine to be closed and all the staff laid off because of the distasteful cartoon.

The cartoon has disturbed society and disturbed us as a publishing company

Girgir had published in its latest edition a cartoon showing the bearded Moses leading the Israelites out of Egypt, with his companions complaining and using strong language. Presumably for reasons of censorship and political correctness, the cartoon remains untranslated.

The publishers blamed the cartoon on a deliberate attempt to put the company in a difficult situation, and said it would inform prosecutors of which employees were behind it.

Turkey's president Erdogan weighed in with a reminder that 'free speech'  only applies to things he agrees with. His spokesman tweeted that:

This has nothing to do with freedom of speech or humor. This is immoral and a hate crime.

 

  Wrong type of baddies...

Pakistan bans Indian action film Raees for its depiction of muslim terrorists


Link Here 7th February 2017
raees Raees is a 2017 India action crime thriller by Rahul Dholakia.
Starring Sunny Leone, Shah Rukh Khan and Nawazuddin Siddiqui. BBFC link IMDb

BBFC category cuts were required for a 12A rated 2017 cinema release. The film was banned in Pakistan.

Pakistan: Banned in February 2017

The film was banned in Pakistan due to its objectionable content. A source from the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) said:

Owing to subtle portrayal of Muslims as violent criminals and terrorists, the recommendations forwarded by the CBFC panel deemed the film is unsuitable for public screening.

We could not issue a certificate because the film portrays Islam and a particular Muslim sect in negative light.

Summary Notes

The film is set in the early 80's and 90's in Gujarat. The fictitious story of a man who builds an empire in the state of Gujarat, the only state that still follows prohibition. It's a story about his rise and his relationships, which help him become the single most powerful man in the state.

Update: A little more about the background for the ban

10th February 2017 See  article from breitbart.com

The problem, as FirstPost explains, is that Raees tells the true story of a Muslim in the 1980s who indulges in the trade of liquor. The movie was deemed insulting to Islam because it subtly portrays Muslims as criminals, violent terrorists, wanted men, and gangsters.

In other words, it is an action film about a bootlegger who was a Muslim. The real-life individual who inspired the film became a Robin Hood-style folk hero and grew influential in politics.

 

  Diplomatically Incorrect...

Erdogan berates Merkel for using the term 'islamist terrorism'


Link Here 3rd February 2017
recep tayyip erdoganTurkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has rebuked German Chancellor Angela Merkel for using the expression Islamist terrorism , saying the phrase saddened Muslims.

After a meeting in Ankara Merkel said:

We spoke in detail about...the questions of the fight against Islamist terrorism, against every form of terrorism, also the terrorism of the PKK.

Erdogan, sitting next to Mrs Merkel, was stony-faced as she used the phrase Islamist terrorism .  Erdogan, glancing sternly at the German chancellor, pointedly remarked:

This expression "Islamist terror" seriously saddens us Muslims. Such an expression is not correct because Islam and terror cannot be associated. The meaning of Islam is peace.

It has become a bit of a political correctness issue for the media and politicians to report on world violence and terrorism when a disproportionately large number of news items are initiated by muslims. Maybe there can never be a polite or acceptable word to describe this association. But neither is the association easy to cover up. If motivations or allegiances of terrorists are not reported, then readers/viewers simply notice the rather obvious omission and simply infer that this must be due to it being related to islam.

 

  Don't mention Fawlty Towers...

Lithuanian TV show taken off air after a nazi salute in a charades based game


Link Here 13th January 2017
virginija buneviciute nazi saluteA Lithuanian actress and former politician made a Nazi-like gesture on a TV show, which was subsequently taken off the air.

The actress Asta Baukute was about to win, she jumped off her seat upon recognizing a melody by Lithuanian composer Simonas Donskovas, who is of Jewish heritage. She then made the gestures and yelled Jew, Jew, Jew in Lithuanian.

Neither the show host, the contenders nor anyone in the audience objected to her gesture.

Lithuania's public television, LRT, apologized for a live show called Guess the Melody in which a popular actress made gestures representing Adolf Hitler's moustache while raising her arm in a Nazi-style salute. LRT's deputy manager, Rimvydas Paleckis, expressed shock on the channel's Facebook page, saying:

This is in no way compatible with our values. The show is closed.

The local Jewish community expressed dismay at the incident.

 

  Political agitation...

Finnish MP fined for voicing popular sentiments about terrorists


Link Here 6th January 2017
Finland flagA Finnish MP has been fined for a Facebook post calling for a muslim-free Finland. Teuvo Hakkarainen from the nationalist Finns party was fined 1,160 euro for 'agitation against an ethnic group'.

Hakkarainen, whose party is part of the country's coalition government, made the call in a comment on the terrorist truck attack in France last July that killed 86 people. He said in the post:

All Muslims are not terrorists but all terrorists are Muslims.

The Finns party said it would next month discuss possible political sanctions for him.

 

  Nativity Naivete...

'Peace and goodwill to all men'...except of course those running a Spanish sex shop with a sex toy nativity scene window display


Link Here 13th December 2016
dildo nativityViolent threats have been made against a Spanish sex shop over its window display featuring a Christmas nativity scene made up of dildos.

The shop's website website reported that for three years ceramic dildos depicting Jesus, the Virgin Mary and Joseph have been put in the shop's window to great interest from local media.

However, this year the Toledo sex shop 203 reported an altogether more sinister response. A statement posted on the Non Sit Peccatum Facebook page claims people working at the sex shop have been the target of verbal aggression and the premises have been vandalized by people related to religious groups in recent weeks.

One letter sent to the shop's owner, Hector Valdivielso, asks if he thinks it is amusing to make to make fun of the beliefs of millions of people and threatens violence .

The shop removed the display far a while explaining that at no time did they mean to offend anyone. However an online poll found that about 80% of responders supported the display, and so the display was restored.

 

  Maybe best to not go there...

But surely a proposed new French law banning 'false information' on anti-abortion websites is incendiary stuff in what is essentially a religious debate


Link Here 7th December 2016
France flagLawmakers in France have voted to ban misleading anti-abortion web sites. After a heated debate, the French National Assembly passed a bill to outlaw websites spreading misinformation about abortion. Pro-abortion activists have accused Pro-Life campaigners of pretending to give neutral information while putting pressure on women not to have abortions.

The new law, which still has to pass the Senate, extends an existing law against physical intimidation over abortion to digital media and would extend the scope of a 1993 law, which criminalizes false information related abortions, to digital media.

Providing false information on abortion online would be punishable by up to two years in prison and a 30,000 euro fine, a stipulation that pro-life advocates were quick to ridicule.

In the current fad for blaming all society's ills on 'false' news and information this adds an interesting possibility of religious commandments being tested in court as false information. The underlying religious view is that abortion is bad simply ecause their god said so.  And surely opponents will understandably see this as false information.

Bruno Retailleau, who heads the Republicans party group in the Senate, says the bill is totally against freedom of expression. He claimed the bill went against the spirit of the 1975 law legalizing abortion, which called for women to be informed of alternatives.

 

  Censorship campaigners with a chipolata on their shoulder...

Moralists whinge about the French 12 rating for Seth Rogen's Sausage Party


Link Here 2nd December 2016  full story: Film Censorship in France...French age ratings are generally lower than most
Sausage Party DVD Greg Tiernan Sausage Party is a 2016 USA animation comedy adventure by Greg Tiernan and Conrad Vernon.
Starring Kristen Wiig, Seth Rogen and Paul Rudd. BBFC link IMDb

An animated fable about the delusion of religion. It is set in an American supermarket, its characters are horny and often blasphemous foodstuffs who at one point engage in a mass sex party.

Catholic and right-wing have whinged about a Seth Rogen cartoon featuring lots of strong language and a foodstuffs orgy scene.

France's film certification board,  (Centre National de la Cinematographie: Commission de Classification, CNC) has now come under renewed censorship pressure by conservative organisations angry at what they perceive as an overlenient rating given to a Hollywood cartoon.

In the US, the film was rated R for strong crude sexual content, pervasive language, and drug use. The film was cut in the US to avoid an NC-17 rating, with the censors asking for the deletion of the hairy scrotum of a pita bread. This cut version has been distributed worldwide. In the UK, it had 15 for very strong language, strong sex references . In France it has been given a 12 certificate.

Jean-Frédéric Poisson, president of France's Christian Democratic party whinged:

An orgy scene for 12-year-olds! Everything remains to be done to combat early exposure to pornography.

La Manif Pour Tours, which has campaigned against same-sex marriage fired of an angry tweet:

Hello CNC, explain how you can authorise the screening of a giant orgy for the whole family?

The Association of Catholic Families warned parents:

[The movie gives] the appearance of being intended for young people and children. its content is not only coarse, but also clearly pornographic, under cover of being 'politically incorrect'.

The French ratings board has traditionally been more lenient than its UK and US equivalents, but is not entirely out on a limb in Europe as Sweden awarded an even lower rating, 11A.

 

  The Dark Web...

French court jails man for the habitual visiting of websites promoting Islamic State


Link Here 2nd December 2016
France flagA man in France has been sentenced to two years in prison for repeatedly visiting pro-ISIS websites, even though there is no indication that he planned to stage a terrorist attack. The man was convicted by a court iunder a new law that has drawn scorn from civil liberties groups. In addition to the two-year prison sentence, he will have to pay a ?30,000 fine.

Police discovered the man's browsing history after conducting a raid on his house. During the investigation, they found pro-ISIS images and execution videos on his phone, personal computer, and a USB stick. An ISIS flag was on the wallpaper of his computer desktop, and his computer's password was "13novembrehaha," a reference to the night gunmen killed 130 people in attacks across Paris. The man had been regularly consulting jihadist websites for two years, police said.

This week's conviction is the latest handed down under a controversial law that criminalizes the "habitual" consultation of websites that promote terrorism. The law makes exceptions for those who visit the sites "in good faith" -- for research, to inform the public, or for judicial purposes.

 

 Update: Minority censorship...

Pakistan's TV censor bans 11 christian channels


Link Here 23rd November 2016  full story: TV Censorship in Pakistan...TV under threat from morally minded courts
Pakistan flagTV censors of the Pakistan Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra) have banned at least 11 Christian TV channels being run across the country.

The channels which have been blocked are Isaac TV, Gawahi TV, God Bless TV, Barkat TV, Praise TV, Zindagi TV, Shine TV, Jesus TV (Jessi TV), Healing TV, Khushkhabari TV, and Catholic TV , sources said. All the channels relayed religious programmes for Christians living in the country.

Pemra claimed the censorship was because the banned channels were broadcasting without licences but that was probably down to christian channels not being allowed to have licenses.

These TV channels are banned in line with ongoing Pemra campaign to ban illegal channels, Sheikh Tahir, the regulator's general manager media, told The Express Tribune . He said the blocked TV channels did not have licences to continue their transmissions.

Pemra seeks ministry's help in enforcing Indian DTH ban

In response to a question that why only Christian TV channels were banned, Sheikh Tahir, the Pemra's general manager medias claimed there was no segregation in the name of religion.

Talking to The Express Tribune , Nadim Anthony, a Christian advocate and rights activist, termed it a blow to the Christian minority of the country. Anthony said the blocked channels had a huge viewership, through which community members took religious guidance. He added:

There are so many Islamic TV channels functioning in the country but no one can dare ban them, which is discrimination.

 

 Update: Anything but peace...

Ofcom fines islamic TV channel for bad mouthing jews


Link Here 12th November 2016  full story: Ofcom on Religion...ofcom keep religious extremism in check
  peace tv logoBritain's TV censor, Ofcom, has fined Peace TV Urdu £65,000 for discriminatory remarks about the jewish community.

Peace TV Urdu is part of  Zakir Naik's Peace TV group based in India. The group is currently under Indian government scrutiny and the process has been initiated to declare them terrorist entities under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act. The channel is also banned in Bangladesh after the Dhaka Terror Attack on advice of the internal security agencies.

Ofcom found the broadcast of the public lectures by an Islamic scholar highly critical and potentially offensive to the Jewish people. This was broadcast on September 12 and 13 on Peace TV Urdu.

Ofcom highlighted a number of discriminatory remarks made about the Jewish people as an ethnic group in the lectures delivered by Islamic scholar Israr Ahmed who died in April 2010. The role and actions of the Jewish people through history from c.1500 to the present day were examined in the lectures that had comments like this cursed people, this cursed race , found to be offensive under Ofcom's rules.

Ofcom observes that the breach of the code was serious as the content included numerous examples of overwhelmingly negative and stereotypical references to Jewish people which, in its view, were a form of hate speech.  The sanctions document notes:

Ofcom was concerned that the highly critical and negative statements made about Jewish people , uninterrupted by an individual likely to be held in high status by the viewers of Peace TV Urdu had the clear potential to cause harm by portraying Jewish people in highly negative terms.

Peace TV expressed its sincere regret and acknowledged that the programme should not have been broadcast.

 

  Historical wrongs righted...

France repeals regional blasphemy law


Link Here 2nd November 2016
France flagThe blasphemy law in force in the region of Alsace-Moselle, France, has been repealed by the national Senate! It means that France is now free of blasphemy laws as such!, although there are plenty of modern day equivalents claiming insults and mockery to be incitement to hatred.

The law was a bit of an anomaly in France as it had been inherited from a historic period of German rule in the region.

 

 Update: A test of democracy...

Popular Dutch far right politician on trial for insulting immigrants


Link Here 31st October 2016  full story: Geert Wilders...Geert Wilders winds up the muslim world
NetherlandsDutch anti-Islam opposition leader Geert Wilders has gone on trial for inciting hatred and discrimination, 18 months after he led a chant for fewer Moroccans in the country and called them scum during campaigning for local elections.

A verdict is due in December.  The trial raise issues of free speech in the Netherlands particularly as Wilders' comments are supported by strong showings in the opinion polls, suggesting that the party could actually be vying for government in next year's election

 

  Stupid and Backwards Malaysia...

Minister notes that decision to ban the phrase hot dog does nothing for Malaysia's credibility


Link Here 21st October 2016

auntie annes pretzel dogsThe Malaysian Islamic Development Department -- the Malay government's religious authority -- has become the object of ridicule after it ordered food outlets to drop the word dog from hot dogs.

Those who do not comply, according to this report , risk being refused halal certification as dogs are considered unclean in Islam and should not be linked to food.

However Nazri Aziz, the Minister for Malaysian Tourism and Culture, called the decision stupid and backward, telling reporters that as a Muslim he was not offended.

Hot dog is hot dog lah. Even in Malay it's called hot dog -- it's been around for so many years. It comes from the English language. Please do not make us seem stupid and backward.

US food chain Auntie Anne's, which has dozens of outlets across Malaysia, was given a no halal certification warning unless it renamed its Pretzel Dog line to Pretzel Sausage .

The company said the pretzel chain had no problem with changing the name, saying it was a minor issue .

 

  Somebody deserves a good kicking...

Churchmen and politicians whinge about an art exhibit at Estonia's new National Museum


Link Here 15th October 2016
estonia kick maryThe opening of Estonia's new National Museum has been overshadowed by protests from Church leaders and politicians over an exhibit they say mocks religion.

The exhibit is a virtual image of the Virgin Mary in a glass box. Visitors are invited to kick a spot on the plinth of the display, whereupon the image appears to fly into pieces and the word Reformation appears.

The Archbishop of the Estonian Evangelical Lutheran Church, Urmas Viilma, said the image offends the feelings of believers. He wrote on Facebook:

I very seriously doubt that this exhibit is suitable for the permanent collection of the National Museum of Estonia, even if it is interesting from a technical point of view or from the perspective of modern approach to the depiction of historical events.

The virgin Mary for a huge number of believers is not some historical figure or event, gone into oblivion, but a reality today. The ridicule was an insult to the feelings of believers.

The chairman of the opposition Conservative People's Party, Mart Helme added:

The image should be removed as soon as possible because the virtual destruction the authors offer insults the feelings of religious Russian-speaking residents and hinders their integration.

Update: Backed down

21stOctober 2016. See  article from christiantoday.com

The new National Museum in Estonia has backed down over a controversial display that allowed visitors to kick an exhibit which then showed an image of the Virgin Mary shattering, with the word Reformation appearing.

The holographic exhibit, which was criticised by church figures and politicians when it was unveiled earlier this month, will still appear to shatter at scheduled intervals but visitors will no longer be able to kick a spot on it.

 

 Update: No religious freedom in Pakistan...

TV censors block 11 christian channels from cable TV


Link Here 14th October 2016
Pakistan flagPakistan has banned 11 Christian television channels, after the country's TV censors declared them illegal in September presumably for religious reasons.

The move has left the country's 2.8 million christian residents with no public media presence, have called the move a blow to religious freedom. Local priests and various members of the local Christian community are calling the move an act of intimidation and an attack to religious freedom . They have appealed to the government to revoke the measure. Father Morris Jalal, founder of Catholic TV said:

As citizens, Christians have the right to practice their religion, but if they block you, it means not all citizens are equal. When someone bans the expression of faith, which is a fundamental right, there is persecution.

Saleem Iqbal, director of Isaac TV said:

We can only ask people to continue to watch us online. Many people are passionate about our channel, which is broadcast from Hong Kong. A ban on cable transmission will not stop us.

 

  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: Litigation Heaven...

Speculation that Louis Theroux's My Scientology Movie has been banned in Ireland over fears about the country's blasphemy law


Link Here 28th September 2016  full story: Blasphemy in Ireland...Irish politicians enact blasphemy law
Scientology Movie DVD Louis Theroux My Scientology Movie is a 2015 UK / USA documentary by John Dower.
Starring Rob Alter, Tom Cruise and Paz de la Huerta. IMDb

Louis Theroux documents his investigation into what goes on behind the scenes of the infamous church of scientology.

Film distributors In Ireland have decided not to screen Louis Theroux's My Scientology Movie. And the speculation is that the country's recently enacted blasphemy law could be used to stir up hassle for the distributors.

The law, part of the 2009 Defamation Act states that any person who publishes or utters blasphemous matter shall be guilty of an offence and shall be liable upon conviction on indictment to a fine not exceeding euro 25,000 . Blasphemous matter is defined as anything that is insulting in relation to matters held sacred by any religion , and that intends to cause outrage.

The law also states that blasphemy laws do not apply to an organisation or cult that prioritises making financial profit or manipulates followers and new recruits. Scientology isn't officially recognised as a church in Ireland, but it's unclear whether or not it counts as a religion under the acts definitions.

But even if  Scientology doesn't count as a religion, then they can still employ expensive lawyers to make the claim anyway, and that it would then take equally expensive lawyers to counter such a claim.

 

 Updated: Epic intolerance...

Ben-Hur censored in Malaysia


Link Here 24th September 2016  full story: Censored Films in Malaysia...Film censors and censorship
Ben Hur DVD Jack Huston Ben-Hur is a 2016 USA historical adventure drama by Timur Bekmambetov.
Starring Jack Huston, Toby Kebbell and Rodrigo Santoro. Youtube link IMDb

The epic story of Judah Ben-Hur (Jack Huston), a prince falsely accused of treason by his adopted brother, an officer in the Roman army. After years at sea, Judah returns to his homeland to seek revenge, but finds redemption.

Malayisia's Film Censorship Board (LPF) said it was not to blame for the censorship of scenes involving Jesus Christ from the Hollywood remake of Ben-Hur .

LPF chairman Datuk Abdul Halim Abdul Hamid further said he did not recall seeing such scenes from the movie submitted, adding that it was possible the Malaysian version is a different version from those shown elsewhere. He told Malay Mail Online:

Maybe, but not by us, probably by producers when they sent the film to Malaysia, they already cut the scenes, they know (there's) some sensitivities.

Halim said he was certain that the board did not remove the scenes that included Jesus, which were pivotal to the plot of the story.

Local viewers had taken to Facebook to complain of censorship of Ben-Hur, with scenes of Jesus forming key plot points allegedly taken out.

One Facebook user, Jasmine Sia, who watched the film on Friday night, said no scenes involving Jesus was shown at all. she told Malay Mail Online:

I felt cheated. The novel from which this movie is adapted is Ben-Hur: A Tale of Christ . It means Jesus is central to the plot. It was censored so much the storyline made no sense! How did Judah's mother and sister get cured from leprosy?

No, they did not show anything with regards to healing. They just appeared at the end of the movie healed. That's why it made no sense.

The local distributor of the film, United International Pictures (UIP) Malaysia, acknowledged on its official Facebook page that the local edition was not identical to that shown elsewhere, after one user named Jerry Terry Derulo pointed out that the runtime here was 11 minutes shorter than listed on movie database IMDB.

Update: Export Version

24th September 2016.  See  article from themalaymailonline.com

Universal has confirmed that there is a special export version of Ben-Hur for intolerant countries that ban the depiction of other religions to their own. The latest Hollywood remake of Ben-Hur has an export version that has been edited to remove scenes featuring Jesus Christ. A Universal spokesman explained:

We submitted into the Censor board a Studio pre-edited version which was available for countries that do not allow the depiction of prophets on film whether by law or due to local sensitivities.

We learned from past titles submitted to the Malaysian Film Censorship Board (LPF) that no Prophets are allowed to be depicted on film. In Malaysia, previous films such as Noah and Exodus which depicted prophets were banned by LPF.

UIP Malaysia said the Malaysian version which was pre-cut to a total running time of 114 minutes is also available for other countries.

LPF chairman Datuk Abdul Halim Abdul Hamid confirmed that LPF adopts the Department of Islamic Development Malaysia's (Jakim) guidelines for films, adding that the body tasked with overseeing religious matters and even the police are sometimes invited to view films together. He added:

But we also have some guidelines from Jakim that any films cannot portray all the prophets or the angels, even the Satan in the context of Islam. Anything mentioned in Quran cannot be visually portrayed in the form of character, figure or drawing.

 

 Update: Epic intolerance...

Ben-Hur censored in Malaysia


Link Here 18th September 2016  full story: Censored Films in Malaysia...Film censors and censorship
Ben Hur DVD Jack Huston Ben-Hur is a 2016 USA historical adventure drama by Timur Bekmambetov.
Starring Jack Huston, Toby Kebbell and Rodrigo Santoro. Youtube link IMDb

The epic story of Judah Ben-Hur (Jack Huston), a prince falsely accused of treason by his adopted brother, an officer in the Roman army. After years at sea, Judah returns to his homeland to seek revenge, but finds redemption.

Malayisia's Film Censorship Board (LPF) said it was not to blame for the censorship of scenes involving Jesus Christ from the Hollywood remake of Ben-Hur .

LPF chairman Datuk Abdul Halim Abdul Hamid further said he did not recall seeing such scenes from the movie submitted, adding that it was possible the Malaysian version is a different version from those shown elsewhere. He told Malay Mail Online:

Maybe, but not by us, probably by producers when they sent the film to Malaysia, they already cut the scenes, they know (there's) some sensitivities.

Halim said he was certain that the board did not remove the scenes that included Jesus, which were pivotal to the plot of the story.

Local viewers had taken to Facebook to complain of censorship of Ben-Hur, with scenes of Jesus forming key plot points allegedly taken out.

One Facebook user, Jasmine Sia, who watched the film on Friday night, said no scenes involving Jesus was shown at all. she told Malay Mail Online:

I felt cheated. The novel from which this movie is adapted is Ben-Hur: A Tale of Christ . It means Jesus is central to the plot. It was censored so much the storyline made no sense! How did Judah's mother and sister get cured from leprosy?

No, they did not show anything with regards to healing. They just appeared at the end of the movie healed. That's why it made no sense.

The local distributor of the film, United International Pictures (UIP) Malaysia, acknowledged on its official Facebook page that the local edition was not identical to that shown elsewhere, after one user named Jerry Terry Derulo pointed out that the runtime here was 11 minutes shorter than listed on movie database IMDB.

 

  When news is more about politically correct propaganda than the facts...

French news outlets decide to censor names, images and motivations of terrorists


Link Here 28th July 2016

le monde logoLeading French media outlets pledged on Wednesday to stop publishing the names and images of attackers linked to Islamic State group to supposedly prevent individuals from being inadvertently glorified, following a spate of attacks by muslim terrorists.

The decisions, part of a wider French debate about how the news media might be contributing to the extremist threat, come as the French parliament debates whether to enshrine in law restrictions on the way the news media can cover terrorist acts.

The director of Le Monde, Jerome Fenoglio, said in an editorial that his newspaper would stop publishing photographs of attackers in a bid to prevent the possible posthumous glorifying effects and called for news media to exercise more responsibility. The newspaper already has a ban on publishing extracts of Islamic State propaganda or claims of responsibility emitted from its media wing.

Television station BFM-TV also said it will no longer broadcast images of attackers' faces.

 

  No peace for the wicked...

India and Bangladesh ban Peace TV


Link Here 23rd July 2016
peace tv logoFollowing recent Islamic terror attacks in Bangladesh, India has banned Zakir Naik's Peace TV . Its neighbour, Bangladesh, then imposed a similar ban.

Peace TV is a 24-hours Islamic International TV Channel that broadcasts Naik's inflammatory and rather extreme viewpoint.

The Islamic proselytizer, rising to fame for his pedantic knowledge of the world's religion, can and has been described as everything ranging from 'an authority on comparative religion to a radical Islamic televangelist, perhaps an equivalent of the US's Ted Haggard.

The Dhaka terror attacks were said to have been inspired by Naik's teachings, leading to an analysis of his programme and and an evaluation of its place in Indian television. The Maharashtra government has ordered a probe to be conducted into his sermons, the contents of which officials have described as a security hazard .

The government has indicated its intention to check the contents of Naik's teachings, from his TV programme to his writings, and and also the sources of the funds for his channels.

 

 Update: Thank Christ for that!...

Malta's parliament passes bill at 3rd reading that repeals blasphemy laws and decriminalises adult consensual porn (except 'extreme' porn)


Link Here 13th July 2016  full story: Blasphemy in Malta...Malta prosecutes many for villifying the chruch
Malta flagThe Maltese parliament has approved, at the third reading stage, amendments to the Criminal Act that repeal legislation that censured the vilification of religion, decriminalises pornography and criminalises revenge porn.

The law punishing the vilification of the Roman Catholic religion had been in place since 1933 and was used by the authorities to censor works of art, theatre productions and prevent films from being screened.

When he originally presented the proposed amendments in February, justice minister Owen Bonnici sought to allay fears that the law would not allow people to incite religious hatred, noting that the incitement of hatred based on religion, gender, race, sexuality, gender identity or political belief was already illegal as per a more recent law and would remain so. He said:

In a democratic country, people should be free to make fun of religions, while not inciting hatred.

The Nationalist opposition had been opposed to the proposed amendments and had accused the government of political atheism , and of adopting policies of forced secularisation .

On his part, Archbishop Charles Scicluna tweeted his dismay at news that MPs had, as expected, successfully passed Bill 133:

Demeaning God and man indeed go hand in hand. A sad day for Malta. Lord forgive them: they do not know what they do.

 

  If music be the food of love, snuff it...

Most populace region of Saudi Arabia makes music illegal in public places


Link Here 9th July 2016
makkah saudiSaudi Emir, Prince Khaled Al-Faisal, of the eastern region of Makkah has banned the playing and carrying of musical instruments, headphones and speakers in public places within all governorates in the region.

The directive included strong instructions to carry it out strictly and to firmly punish violators, and came after reports were issued concerning inappropriate behaviours and activities in the Jeddah Corniche, a Red Sea coastal area in the city of Jeddah. Makkah is Saudi Arabia's most populous region, whose capital is Mecca.

The ban covers public places, such as public parks, jogging areas, walkways, and sports facilities, and also includes the banning of obscene behaviour, wearing indecent clothes, walking pet animals, the smoking of tobacco and shisha, and the lighting of firewood or charcoal.

 

  Ban it or else the horse will get it!...

Delhi High Court petitioners call for the banning of Godfather beer


Link Here 3rd July 2016
godfather beerA legal case has been registered at the Delhi High Court seeking to restrain manufacture, supply and sale of Godfather beer in the city, claiming it hurts religious sentiments.

The plea by a civic organisation claims that sentiments and emotions of the public at large of every religion would be affected as the word God is used by everyone to refer to the almighty power . Devinder Singh, president of Jan Chetna Manch, whinged:.

The Godfather (beer) manufacturers are against humanity and the principle of natural justice as they are intentionally harassing and damaging religious emotions.

The petition is likely to come up for hearing next week.

 

  Escorted by aggression...

Religious extremist hacks a series of escort websites


Link Here 28th June 2016
eisurveillanceA hacker calling himself ElSurveillance has targeted at least 26 websites in June for defacement, most of which promote escort services.

According to an interview with website Data Breaches in December of last year, the hacker is citing religious reasons. He spouted:

I have been running an operation under the hashtag #EscortsOffline against the escorts website and agencies, because I strongly believe that our bodies are gifted from Allah to us to look after and not to destroy, and I always hated the idea of people selling their bodies for money.

His campaign has attacked nearly 200 websites since January 2015.

 

  United in criticism...

UN calls upon Iran to free musicians jailed for insulting islamic sanctities


Link Here 27th June 2016

mehdi-rajabian hossein-rajabian ousef-emadi share The United Nations Special Rapporteurs on cultural rights, Karima Bennoune, and on freedom of expression, David Kaye, have called on the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran to release musicians Mehdi Rajabian and Yousef Emadi, and filmmaker Hossein Rajabian, who were imprisoned and heavily fined earlier this month. Ms. Bennoune said.

These three artists were sentenced for exercising their right to freedom of artistic expression and creativity, which in turn results in unjustifiable restrictions on the right of all persons in Iran to have access to and enjoy the artsArtistic expression is simply not a crime.

The human rights experts contacted the Iranian authorities on these cases earlier this year, including on the use of torture against Mr. Rajabian, musician and founder of Barg Music, an alternative music distributor in Iran.

Barg Music was the main medium broadcasting alternative music in the country and had introduced more than 100 music albums and thousands of single records by Iranian alternative musicians, as well as female singers, to Iranian audiences, before being shut down by Revolutionary Guards in 2013.

In May 2015, and, according to the Government's answer to the UN experts, the three artists were sentenced to six years in prison and a fine of 50 million Rials each (some 1,658 USD) for insulting Islamic sanctities , propaganda against the State and conducing illegal activities in the audiovisual affaires including through producing prohibited audiovisual material and performing an illegal and underground music site . On appeal, the prison sentence was reduced to three years. Mr. Kaye said:

We take note that the sentence of the artists was reduced by the appeal court However, this verdict is still unacceptable: detaining someone on the grounds of 'insulting the sacred' and 'propaganda against the state' is incompatible with international human rights standards.

Ms. Bennoune added:.

I am particularly dismayed that Mehdi Rajabian, Yousef Emadi and Hossein Rajabian were allegedly forced to make self-incriminating televised 'confessions' to the charges of having produced prohibited audiovisual materials, to express regret for their work and to apologize for broadcasting the voice of female singers, This amounts to an extraordinary attack against these artists, and one which has serious repercussions for others in Iran.

The arrest, conviction and sentencing of artists is entirely unacceptable and in complete violation of international human rights law binding on Iran. The three artists should be released immediately and all charges dropped.

The expert's call has also been endorsed by the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran, Ahmed Shaheed, and the UN Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, Mr. Juan E. Mendez.

 

  Searching for censorship...

Religious conservatives in Indonesia protest against pornography on Google and YouTube


Link Here 15th June 2016
muhammadiyah logoHundreds of people from the Indonesian Islamic Organization, Muhammadiyah, demonstrated in Surabaya, East Java province to urge Google and YouTube to remove pornographic content.

A demonstration coordinator, M Arif An, said that the protest was the first step taken by Muhammadiyah and its affiliated organizations to act decisively in combating pornography.

Arif claimed porn content has destroyed younger generations and was causing immoral behavior:

A lot of crimes involved influence of pornographic content.

Any content considered propagating radical Islam is very quickly blocked by the ministry. We urge that porn content must also be removed immediately.

For some reason he did not mention the infinitely greater amount of misery and violence around the world directly attributable to religion.

Muhammadiyah is an influential and conservative islamic organisation with about 29 million members.

 

 Update: Symbolic of our struggle against oppression...

German conviction for screening Life of Brian upheld on appeal, so now the conviction will be challenged in the Constitutional Court


Link Here 7th June 2016  full story: Monty Python...Monty Python winds up the nutters
Monty Pythons Life Brian DVD Three years ago Martin Budich, the organizer of a group called Religious Freedom in the Ruhr , decided to put on a public viewing of the comedy classic Monty Python's Life of Brian on Good Friday in the western city of Bochum.

But three years later Budich is preparing to face the highest court in the land for the simple act of showing a film which is rated suitable for children in most countries. Budich explained to The Local.

Showing the film was a deliberate act of rebellion against the holiday laws which every German state has, and which prevent people from partying - or showing films that are not approved by the state - on religious holidays.

On Thursday the final obstacle to taking this law to the constitutional court was removed, after the High Court in North Rhine-Westphalia upheld a ruling from a lower court that ordered Budich to pay a 100 euro fine.

He can now appeal the decision in Federal Constitutional Court which will have to consider whether the prohibition of showing the movie was in breach of Budich's constitutional rights.

 

  On a repressive note...

Religious censors in Turkey issue a fatwa banning sexual music


Link Here 22nd May 2016

Istanbul Sokaklari Kramp Artists are facing severe difficulties under Erdogan's rule in Turkey. On 15 February 2016, The Turkish Directorate of Religious Affairs, issued a fatwa -- a religious ban -- on sexual music.

The Turkish Directorate of Religious Affairs is a governmental institution responsible for managing the religious affairs in Turkey. It is infamous for its scandalous fatwas.

On 15 February 2016, a new fatwa hit the news. The Directorate distributed a 2016 calendar, in which they included a Q&A for each day. On the page for the day 24 August, the question was What is the place of music in religion? Which types of music are halal (acceptable for Islam)? The answer started with some general information:

According to Quran, there is no proof which shows that making or listening to music is a sin. In this sense, the types of music which do not contradict with the fundamental beliefs of our religion and with the general moral values are unobjectionable.

Then came the but :

BUT... making or listening to music which includes expressions or depictions that arouse sexual desires or which show haram things as beautiful is a sin.

The fatwas by the Directorate, whose members are all appointed by the government, are not legally binding or cannot be used as legal opinions or precedents, but they have practical effect. They form public opinion. They direct the central and local governments about what type of art and which artists to support. They encourage public prosecutors to start cases against Islamically unacceptable art works and artists. They present legitimacy for the government's change of legislature. They are influential.

An imam, previously with the rockband Kramp , who now runs the band Firock , is opposing the Directorate's fatwa from a religious perspective.

 

  'Have mercy on us and leave us alone'...

Lebanon's government censor bans song for asking god to leave us alone


Link Here 22nd May 2016
Ya Balad Bachar Mar Khalife   The censorship bureau of Lebanon's General Security Directorate has banned Bachar Mar-Khalife's song Kyrie Eleison because it supposedly contains offenses to God as the singer talked to God in the song saying, 'have mercy on us and leave us alone' .

The authorities further stated that if Bashar Mar-Khalife wants to promote his album in the country then he must delete the song from the album. Authorities also cllaimed in their statement that the song included words that could be interpreted as sexual innuendo.

 

  Munich: A Palestinian Story...

Jewish group protests about the Cannes showing of an excerpt from a Palestinian documentary


Link Here 17th May 2016
munich a palestinian storyMunich: A Palestinian Story is a 2016 Palestine documentary by Nasri Hajjaj

A French Jewish group is protesting against the planned screening of the documentary Munich: A Palestinian Story at Cannes, claiming the film blames German security forces for the deaths of 11 Israeli athletes at the 1972 Munich Olympics rather than the terrorist attackers of the Black September group.

An excerpt from the documentary is due to be screened as part of a partnership between the Cannes Film Festival and the Dubai International Film Festival. The film, directed by journalist-turned-director Nasri Hajjaj, is still reportedly in production.

Roger Cukierman, president of the Council of Jewish Organisations in France (CRIF), expressed anxiety and deep concern over the planned viewing in a letter to Cannes Film Festival President Pierre Lescure and French Culture Minister Audrey Azoulay. He said:

The film depicts the terrorists as 'freedom fighters' and says that 'everything came to an end when German security forces intervened, killing 5 Palestinians and 11 Israeli athletes.' It's a scandalous misinterpretation of historic facts.

 

 Update: Offensive against Facebook...

French jewish groups set to launch legal action against Facebook for not censoring enough posts


Link Here 17th May 2016  full story: Internet Censorship in France...Web blocking in the name of child protection
Facebook logoThree jewsih organisations in France say they are planning legal action against Facebook, Twitter and YouTube for failing to remove posts that the gorups consider to be hate speech

The French Jewish Students Union (UEJF), SOS Racisme and SOS Homophobie say they found 586 posts between 31 March and 10 May that they claim to be offensive. But they claim only a small percentage was taken down.

French law states that racist, homophobic and anti-Semitic content must be removed from websites.

YouTube's side of the argument can be inferred from deciding that the posts did not break their rule:

But from YouTube's side of the argument, they decided not to remove the content when tested against their rules that YouTube does not support content which:

Promotes or condones violence against individuals or groups based on race or ethnic origin, religion, disability, gender, age, nationality, veteran status or sexual orientation/gender identity, or whose primary purpose is inciting hatred on the basis of these core characteristics.

Facebook also decided that the posts did not break their rules and added also that it does allow:

Clear attempts at humour or satire that might otherwise be considered a possible threat or attack.

Twitter' also decided that complained about posts did not transgress their rules.

 

 Offsite Article: Controversy lingers on...


Link Here 6th May 2016
award winning cartoon eBay removes award-winning Mohammed cartoon listing

See article from freethinker.co.uk

 

  Not yet time to sing a new song...

Turkish art about women's voices in the public space censored by police for insulting religious views


Link Here 5th May 2016
time to sing a new songThe artist Isil Egrikavuk, who was commissioned to create a new work for YAMA, a public art installation series screened on top of the Marmara Pera hotel in Istanbul, says in a statement on Facebook that her animation about women's voices in public spaces was first removed for "insulting religious views," and later that the work was a source of "visual pollution".

Egrikavuk's work is titled Time to Sing a New Song and consists of a short animation of a woman's emoji face slowly turning into an apple.

It was supposed to be on display from sunset to sunrise everyday between April 23 to June 30 of this year, however three days after the opening on April 26 officers from Beyoglu Municipality apparently came to the hotel and put a stop to the exhibition.

The artist learned that there had been a complaint about the video, for insulting religious views, and subsequently also was told that the video was causing visual pollution and had to be shut off.

 

 Update: Unfree Speech...

Turkish journalists jailed for republishing Charlie Hebdo cartoons as a mark of solidarity with the cartoonists murdered in Paris


Link Here 29th April 2016  full story: Charlie Hebdo...Censored by terrorists
cumhuriyet charlie hebdoTurkey has sentenced two columnists to prison for two years for illustrating articles with cartoons from the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo .

A court in Istanbul convicted Hikmet Cetinkaya and Ceyda Karan with fomenting hatred and enmity in the people via means of the press.

Bulent Utku, the journalists' lawyer, said they would be appealing the sentence.

Sections of Turkish society were 'outraged' by the cartoons in Cumhuriyet , an opposition newspaper when they were published in January last year as a gesture of solidarity with Charlie Hebdo.

Turkish police had stopped and searched Cumhuriyet trucks as they left the printing press and protesters in Istanbul later burned copies of the newspaper.

The case was pressed by lawyers linked to Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the Turkish president, and several members of his family.

 

 Update: Ultimate censorship of gay magazine...

More murderous censorship by religious extremists in Bangladesh


Link Here 27th April 2016  full story: Blasphemy in Bangladesh...Penalising disbelief
roopbaan magazineXulhaz Mannan, a top gay rights activist and editor of Roopbaan, the country's only LGBT magazine, was hacked to death together with another man associated with the publication, Tanay Mojumdar.

The two men were killed two days after a university teacher was hacked to death by suspected Islamist militants. So-called Islamic State (IS) claimed responsibility -- but the Bangladeshi government claimed there is no IS presence in the country.

BBC Bengali Service editor Sabir Mustafa said staff at Roopbaan , a magazine and activist group for the LGBT community that had not been condemned by the government and received some support from foreign embassies, had been careful to protect their identities but had not believed their lives were at risk.

Suspected extremists in Bangladesh are gaining a sense of security that they can carry out killings with impunity, he says.

Meanwhile Bangladesh's best known blogger said he had received a death threat on Sunday. Imran Sarker, who led major protests by secular activists in 2013 against Islamist leaders, said he had received a phone call warning that he would be killed very soon .

 

  Mumbai Sikhs recommend...

The Indian movie Santa Banta Pvt Ltd


Link Here 24th April 2016
Poster Santa Banta Pvt Ltd 2016 Akashdeep Santa Banta Pvt Ltd is a 2016 India comedy by Akashdeep.
Starring Tinnu Anand, Vir Das and Neha Dhupia. IMDb

Two friends and their sweet and endearing misadventures and one of these misadventures sees them land in the middle of a kidnapping investigation.

The Punjabi Cultural Heritage Board (PCHB) and the Maharshtra Sikh Association have launched protests against the release of the movie Santa Banta Pvt Ltd. , the two organisations successfully disrupted the screening of the movie in various cinema theatres around Mumbai.

Charan Singh Sapra, president, PCHB, claimed:

The movie hurts the religious and cultural sentiments of the Sikh community. The movie has also depicted a negative image of our community, with some dialogues also evoking aggression in people from our community. The chairman of the censor board should not be biased and we have appealed to the people to file a case under section 295(A) (deliberate acts intended to outrage religious feelings by insulting a religion) of the Indian Penal Code.

We have successfully stopped the screening of the movie at Chembur, Pune,Wadala, Sion, Dadar, Kurla, Vashi, Thane, Jabalpur, Nanded, Belapur and many more places across Mumbai, Thane and Navi Mumbai. We have also filed a petition in the Bombay High Court to stop the screening altogether, and the next hearing for the same is on April 27.

 

  A dangerous opinion...

Kuwait academic arrested for blasphemy after debating on TV that islam should not be above the law


Link Here 15th April 2016  full story: Blasphemy in Kuwait...Baying for blood
Kuwait flagA prominent female academic and human rights activist in Kuwait has been charged with blasphemy. Sheikha al-Jassem was summoned to the public prosecutor's office after legal complaints were filed against her over a recent interview she gave on TV.

She asserted that the constitution of Kuwait should be above the Quran and Islamic law in governing the country. The interview was broadcast on Kuwaiti Al-Shahed TV on 8 March. Its theme was the rise of Islamic extremism.

During the interview, Jassem was asked about radical Islamists who said that religion was more important than the Kuwaiti constitution. She responded by saying that this was dangerous and that, in her opinion, politics and religion should be kept apart.  Jassem made reference to the violence across the Middle East and divisions between Sunni and Shia Muslims. She said that if you just went back to holy books and relied on them, society could not move forward.

Her remarks provoked a storm of attacks against her, spearheaded by Islamist members of Kuwait's parliament.

The public prosecutor still has the discretion to decide whether or not Ms Jassem will be put on trial.

 

 Offsite Article: Why Ireland must get rid of its disgraceful blasphemy law...


Link Here 13th April 2016  full story: Blasphemy in Ireland...Irish politicians enact blasphemy law
Ireland Ireland is the only country in the developed western world to have introduced a blasphemy law in the 21st century. By Roy Greenslade

See article from theguardian.com

 

 Update: Extreme censorship...

Another secular blogger murdered by muslim extremists in Bangladesh


Link Here 8th April 2016  full story: Blasphemy in Bangladesh...Penalising disbelief
Bangladesh flagNazimuddin Samad, whose family live in London, was hacked to death by at least four assailants after posting on Facebook. He had been on a hit list of 84 bloggers drawn up by murderous muslim extrmists in Bangladesh. He was hacked to death and then shot.

Hundreds of protesters have taken to the streets of Dhaka to demand the capture and punishment of those responsible for the murder of a law student who criticised Islamism on his Facebook page.

About 350 activists from the secular campaigning network Ganajagaran Mancha took part in the demonstration on Thursday after the killing of Nazimuddin Samad in the Bangladeshi capital on Wednesday night.

Samad, 28, had been on a hit list of 84 atheist bloggers that a group of radical Islamists drew up and sent to the Bangladesh interior ministry. His murder was the latest in a series of killings of secular activists and bloggers in the country.

 

 Commented: Beyond criticism...

Commentators are 'outraged' by Charlie Hebdo editiorial suggesting that the wider muslim community indirectly support terrorism by shutting down criticism of islam


Link Here 7th April 2016  full story: Charlie Hebdo...Censored by terrorists
hebdo editorial Commentators have taken offence at an editorial in the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo. The leader suggests that ordinary Muslims contribute to putting islam beyond criticism and hence contributing to a climate in which the Brussels bombings took place.

The magazine published the editorial, How Did We End Up Here? , eight days after bombs at Brussels' airport and metro. It said a fear of being seen as Islamophobic had inhibited the public from questioning or objecting to facets of Islam. The editorial began by listing several mooted explanations for the Brussels attacks , including police incompetence, youth unemployment, immigration and growing Islamism. But, it went on:

In reality, the attacks ... are the last phase of a process of cowing and silencing long in motion and on the widest possible scale.

Charlie Hebdo concluded:

From the bakery that forbids you to eat what you like, to the woman who forbids you to admit that you are troubled by her veil, we are submerged in guilt for permitting ourselves such thoughts. And that is where and when fear has started its sapping, undermining work. And the way is marked for all that will follow.

Several commentators took offence at the article. Shadi Hamid, writer and senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, tweeted:

Never thought I'd see the day when a magazine ppl I know respect would argue that basically all conservative Muslims are complicit in terror

Teju Cole, a Nigerian-American writer and photographer, wrote:

Reading this extraordinary editorial by Charlie, it's hard not to recall the vicious development of 'the Jewish question' in Europe and the horrifying persecution it resulted in. Charlie's logic is frighteningly similar: that there are no innocent Muslims, that 'something must be done' about these people, regardless of their likability, their peacefulness, or their personal repudiation of violence. Such categorisation of an entire community as an insidious poison is a move we have seen before.

But some on Twitter said the editorial was thoughtful and even brilliant. Toby Young, the journalist and writer, described it as powerful .

Julia Ebner responded in the Independent:

Whether one agrees with the latest editorial or not, drawing this historical parallel is far-fetched. The difference is threefold: first, Charlie Hebdo's mockery is targeting abstract concepts, ideologies and powerful elites rather than vulnerable individuals. Second, the goal of the journalists is to incite laughter, not hatred or fear. Third -- and most importantly -- the satirists are not abusing freedom of expression for the sake of politics; they are abusing politics for the sake of free expression.

Spiked logoOffsite Comment: No, Charlie Hebdo' s editorial is not racist

7th April 2016. See  article from spiked-online.com

Turns out the Charlie haters are even dimmer than we thought.

 

 Update: Iconic censorship...

Rajan Zed calls on European art galleries to censor the artwork, Barbie Kali


Link Here 20th March 2016  full story: Rajan Zed...Taking easy offence at hindu imagery
barbie kali 2014 Perennial hindu whinger Rajan Zed is calling on Rome and Paris museums to censor an iconic Barbie doll as goddess Kali in their Barbie exhibitions, claiming it to be highly inappropriate. Zed said it trivialized the highly revered deity of Hinduism.

Barbie The Icon exhibition at Museo delle Culture in Milan, which reportedly carried an Argentinean artists' created Barbie portrayed as goddess Kali with a dagger and plate carrying a severed head, is ending on March 13. It was said to be moving to Complesso del Vittoriano gallery in Il Vittoriano monument in Rome (April 15 to October 30) and Musee des Arts decoratifs in Paris (till September 18).

Zed claimed that reimagining Hindu scriptures and deities for commercial or other agenda was not okay as it hurt the feelings of devotees. Goddess Kali and other Hindu deities were meant to be worshipped in temples and home shrines and not meant to be reduced to a Barbie character.

Rajan Zed repeated his ludicrous claim that Hindus were for free speech as much as anybody else if not more ...BUT... faith was something sacred and attempts at belittling it hurt the devotees. Artists should be more sensitive while handling faith related subjects, Zed added.

 

 Updated: Homophobic Censorship...

Italian catholics ban the gay film Weekend from much of Italy


Link Here 16th March 2016
Weekend DVD Tom Cullen Weekend is a 2011 UK gay romance by Andrew Haigh.
Starring Tom Cullen, Chris New and Jonathan Race. BBFC link IMDb

On a Friday night after a drunken house party with his straight mates, Russell heads out to a gay club, alone and on the pull. Just before closing time he picks up Glen but what's expected to be just a one-night stand becomes something else, something special. That weekend, in bars and in bedrooms, getting drunk and taking drugs, telling stories and having sex, the two men get to know each other. It is a brief encounter that will resonate throughout their lives. Weekend is both an honest and unapologetic love story between two guys and a film about the universal struggle for an authentic life in all its forms. It is about the search for identity and the importance of making a passionate commitment to your life.

The Catholic Church in Italy has effectively banned Weekend , a movie by British filmmaker Andrew Haigh, by declaring it unfit to be shown in any of the theaters owned by the church.

In an unusual move that prompted accusations of homophobic censorship, the Italian Conference of Bishops' Film Evaluation Commission classified the film as not advised, unusable and scabrous (indecent or salacious). The Commission listed the film's principal themes as drugs and homosexuality.

The result, according to its distributor Teodora Film, was that the film was shunned by the more than 1,100 cinemas which are owned by the Church and make up the bulk of Italy's network of independent/arthouse theatres.

The country's official film board approved Haigh's Nottingham-set drama for audiences over 14, compared with an 18 rating in the UK.

The large number of Italian cinemas owned by the Church are a legacy of the days when every parish had its own cinema and local priests controlled projections, regularly cutting sections of films they deemed unsuitable for parishioners. Most of these cinemas are now rented out to operators who do not have to be religious but do have to sign a contract which includes a clause agreeing to go along with the guidance issued by the bishops.

Only very rarely does the guidance make it clear the Church does not want a film shown at all with the only other recent example being Chilean director Pablo Larrain's El Club , in which the main characters are all Catholic priests, including one with a history of sexually abusing children.

Update: Weekend triumph

16th March 2016. See  article from theguardian.com

Weekend has now become a surprise box office smash in Italy, despite the attempt by the Catholic church to paralyse its release. The film achieved the highest per-screen average in the country this weekend, according to Variety . One screening at Rome's famous Quattro Fontane art house cinema pulled in receipts of more than 16,000 euro, the cityl's top haul.

Weekend, which was brought to Italy by distributor Teodora Film following the 2015-16 awards season success of Haigh's Oscar-nominated film 45 Years.

Variety reports 11 more Italian cinemas are now said to be interested in screening Weekend in the upcoming frame.

 

 Update: Iran bumps bounty on Salman Rushdie's head...

Iranian fatwa inciting the murder of Salman Rushdie continues 27 years on


Link Here 26th February 2016  full story: Satanic Verses...Salman Rushdie irritation of the muslim world
Satanic Verses Salman Rushdie 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 wrong sort of nonsense...

Indian catholic group calls for the ban of a book claiming that christianity originated as a sect of hunduism


Link Here 26th February 2016
christ parichay by  ganesh savarkarThe 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.

 

 Petition: Satanic Justice...

Members of an Iranian heavy metal band are being held on blasphemy charges


Link Here 25th February 2016  full story: Blasphemy in Iran...Repression of free speech
confess petition Two members of the Iranian heavy metal band Confess are being held for blasphemy after they were arrested by the state's religious guard and accused of writing satanic music.

Nikan Siyanor Khosravi and Khosravi Arash Ilkhani are believed to have been arrested and jailed on November 10. Held in Tehran's notorious Evin prison by the Revolutionary Guards until February 5, the pair wrote and released their own heavy metal albums and ran a record label. Extreme punishments are available for the prosecuting authorities

Their latest album, released in October, included tracks named Teh-Hell-Ran and I'm Your God Now , both of which would likely rankle with the state's hardline Islamic leadership.

Tara Sepehri Far, a researcher for Human Rights Watch, told MailOnline the pair likely faced up to five years in prison. She said it was likely they would be facing insulting sacred beliefs charges, as other musicians had been in the past, rather than insulting the prophet , which is punishable by death. She added:

Iranian musicians, especially the ones who play non-classical western music, are navigating a minefield. Due to severe censorship, most of these groups are performing underground.

Anything from the content of their lyrics to the style of the music they play might violate unwritten regulations that musicians are expected to adhere to by various authorities.

Social media accounts of those close to the band expressed concern about the pair's plight, and included messages of support and the sharing of the #freeconfess hashtag.

Sign the petition from change.org :

Help Free CONFESS they were arrested by the Army of the Guardians of the Islamic Revolution and are facing charges of blasphemy, advertising against the system, running an illegal and underground band and record label promoting music considered to be Satanic writing anti-religious lyrics and granting interviews to forbidden foreign radio stations.

 

 Updated: Rabid Censorship...

Madonna banned from singing Holy Water at Singapore gig


Link Here 24th February 2016
madonna rebel heartMadonna has been banned from performing the track Holy Water , taken from last year's album Rebel Heart , at her live show at Singapore's National Stadium on 28 February. The show has also been labelled with an adults only R18 rating.

A spokesperson for the music censors at the Media Development Authority stated:

In determining the rating, MDA had carefully reviewed the proposed setlist and consulted the Arts Consultative Panel. Religiously sensitive content which breached our guidelines, such as the song 'Holy Water', will thus not be performed in Singapore.

Update: Recommended by the Archbishop of Singapore

24th February 2016.  See  article from telegraph.co.uk

In a missive to his flock, Archbishop of Singapore, William Goh denounced Madonna's music and stage props as blasphemous and warned believers not to support those who denigrate and insult religions .

The monsignor met government officials to express the Church's concerns about the Singapore stop of Madonna's global Rebel Heart tour .

 

 Updated: An offence against free speech...

Georgia debates and then rejects a new blasphemy law


Link Here 20th February 2016
Georgia flagThe central Asian state of Georgia is planning to introduce a blasphemy law criminalising insults to religion.

The bill would mean a 300 lari fine, around £84, or a week's average salary, for insults to religious feelings . The desecration of a religious building or symbol would result in a fine of 500 lari, equivalent to about £140. In each case, a second offence would attract double the fine.

However there has also been criticism of the bill. Rusudan Gotsiridze, an Evangelical Baptist, and the first female bishop in Georgia has spoken out against the bill, describing it as terrible and warning:

This law is not going to protect anyone; at least not the minorities, and will be a powerful tool against freedom of speech.

Republican Party MP and member of the coalition, Tamar Kordzaia, has also criticised the measure:

A perceived insult to religious feelings should be disputed by an individual. The state can never know if some particular action is offensive to a particular individual.

The ruling coalition endorsed the plans at a meeting of the misleadingly named human rights committee.

Update: Rejected

20th February 2016. See  article from eurasianet.org

Georgia has dropped a proposed anti-blasphemy bill ardently opposed by freedom-of-speech activists. The draft appeared to be causing a split in the ruling Georgian Dream coalition -- never desirable in a parliamentary election year. Saying that the bill needs more work, parliamentarian Soso Jachvliani on February 15 withdrew his own proposal, which already had been conditionally approved by parliament's human rights committee. Parliamentary Speaker Davit Usupashvili announced that the legislature has stopped discussion of the legislation.

Amongst the critics, One Georgian Orthodox priest, Deacon Tamaz Lomidze, described it as absurd:

Who can define religious feelings? What judge can rule on whether a certain action is insulting to someone's religion?

Amnesty International said that the bill threatened to:

Outlaw criticism of religious leaders and institutions, and suppress free speech on topical political and social issues, including the rights of women, of lesbian, gay, transgender and intersex people, and of religious minorities.

 

  Speaking of scourges, which has caused the most death and suffering, porn or religion?...

Philippines bishops whinge about porn complete with death wishes for pornographers


Link Here 20th February 2016
catholic bishops conference of the philippines logo

The Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines has issued a message on pornography:

To those who have been exploited and victimized by the pornography industry, nothing that you have done to you can separate you from the love of God in Christ Jesus! ...

To those who make and distribute pornography, you should heed the stark warning of the Lord Jesus: Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea (Matt. 18:6) ...

To those who struggle with pornography, do not allow shame, fear, or pride, to prevent you from returning to God, the Father of Mercies, who loves you beyond all your other loves ... Have recourse to the sacraments regularly, especially the sacrament of confession, to receive the strength and courage from God to help you in your trials. Entrust yourself to the patronage of St. Thomas Aquinas and the Blessed Virgin Mary, who have long been linked to the pursuit of holy chastity.

 

 Updated: Antichrist Banned in France...

Religious censors get court to revoke 16 rating for Lars Von Trier's film. Then they turn their attention to The Hateful Eight


Link Here 7th February 2016  full story: Extreme Cuts...Lars Von Trier sexual violence causes a stir
Antichrist DVD Willem Dafoe Antichrist is a 2009 Denmark/Germany/France/Sweden/Italy/Poland drama by Lars Von Trier.
With Willem Dafoe, Charlotte Gainsbourg and Storm Acheche Sahlstrøm. YouTube icon BBFC link IMDb

The film was banned in France in February 2016

Promouvoir, an extremist Catholic pressure group initiated a court case some time ago claiming that the films local 16 rating was incorrect and that the film should be restricted to adults only. The moralists won the case and the court agreed that the film is unsuitable for under 18 and revoked the film's 16 certificate.

Until the film can be re-rated, it is banned from cinema and TV.

The BBFC explained some of the censorship issues when issuing an uncut 18 rating:

At '18', the BBFC's Guidelines state that the more explicit images of sexual activity are unlikely to be permitted unless they can be exceptionally justified by context and the work is not a 'sex work'. A 'sex work' is defined as a work whose 'primary purpose is sexual arousal or stimulation'. It is clear that ANTICHRIST is not a 'sex work' but a serious drama exploring issues such as grief, loss, guilt and fear.

The brief images of explicit real sex (sight of a penis penetrating a vagina during a consensual sex scene and sight of the man's penis being masturbated to climax) are exceptionally justified, in this context, by the manner in which they illustrate the film's themes and the nature of the couple's relationship. Their relationship is depicted throughout in a graphic and unflinching fashion, both psychologically and physically.

The BBFC has permitted comparable explicit images in a number of previous features at the '18' level (eg L'EMPIRE DES SENS, 9 SONGS, SHORTBUS and Lars von Trier's earlier film, THE IDIOTS) where it has been clear that the purpose of the work - and the individual images in question - is not simply to arouse viewers but to illustrate characters, relationships and themes.

Update: Hateful moralists

7th February 2016. See  article from news.yahoo.com

Hateful Eight DVD Samuel Jackson Buoyed by their success in getting the 16 age rating for Antichrist overturned, religious extremists at Promouvoir (Promote) are now setting their sights on Quentin Tarantino's 12 rated The Hateful Eight .

The Catholic group is now threatening to have Quentin Tarantino's new film pulled from cinemas. They claim that the film  had been granted its certificate illegally .

It also threatened to take action against the French teen film Bang Gang , one of the hits of this year's Toronto film festival.

The French 12 rating for Blue is the Warmest Colour was withdrawn in December 2016 over its extended lesbian scenes. This was the result of court case issued by the religious campaign group Promouvoir (Promote). Abdellatif Kechiche's film is currently banned from cinema and TV and as the film has not yet received a revised certificate.

 

 

  Salafistes...

France film censors award rare 18 rating to film about religious extremism


Link Here 27th January 2016  full story: Salafistes...Courts overrule French film censors
france interdit-18-ansThe French ministry of culture will allow cinemas to show the controversial film Salafistes , which features interviews with North African jihadists, but have banned it for anyone under 18 in a rare move for a documentary in France.

The over-18 rating is normally only given to pornographic films, although it has featured for mainstream films when politicians have got themselves involved in the process.

According to the filmmakers, the 18 rating will kill the film , as it effectively bans it from being aired on public TV and means cinemas will be reluctant to show it.

Salafistes, whose title refers to the ultra-conservative branch of Sunni Islam that drives movements such as al Qaeda and the Islamic State (IS) group, drew accusations of promoting terrorism by showing frank interviews with jihadists bent on attacking Western, and in particular French, targets.

It was also accused of being an attack on human dignity in that it shows the murder of French policeman Ahmed Merabet during the January 2015 attacks on the offices of satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo. Merabet was shot at point blank range on the street outside the magazine's offices.

Filmmakers François Margolin and Lemime Ould Salem said they had removed the offending scene, but insist that the film should be given as wide an audience as possible. According to the filmmakers, the violence itself serves as the best counterpoint to the interviewees' Salafist philosophy. Margolin said:

We are reporters. We tell people what is happening and what people are saying, we want viewers to hear the [jihadists'] arguments from their own mouths Reporting on what they say is not the same thing as promoting their ideas. When making the film, we worked on the principle that our audience is intelligent.

 

 Update: Hurt sentiments...

TV comedian briefly jailed for blasphemy against a cult leader


Link Here 14th January 2016  full story: Blasphemy in India...Hurting religious sentiments
kiku shardaA day after he was arrested and forced to spend a few hours in an Indian jail for mocking a self-styled religious sect leader, popular comedian Kiku Sharda called the experience traumatic, sad and sudden.

The comedian was arrested for mimicking Dera Sacha Sauda chief Baba Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh in an episode on December 27.

Amid nationwide outrage, Sharda was also sent to custody for 14 days but released after a few hours in jail, soon after the Dera chief said he forgave him. But around 10 pm, he was detained again and then released this morning.

Thankfully I didn't spend 14 days in jail, Sharda remarked, joking, however, that he did feel more secure in jail than outside because of the crowd of Baba Ram Rahim's followers in court. There was uproar when I came. It was scary.

The comedian, booked for hurting religious sentiment, said he had faced this sort of trouble for the first time in 13 years.

The Dera Sacha Sauda, a sect that has a strong presence in Punjab and Haryana, describes itself as a social welfare and spiritual organisation with millions of followers in India and abroad. It doesn't sound a very noce group though, with police investigating claims that 400 followers were forced to undergo castrations so that they could get closer to God .

 

 Offsite Article: Let's blame porn for everything...


Link Here 8th January 2016
deutsche welle logo Ludicrous academic sees porn as a possible cause of Cologne New Year assaults but totally rejects any connection to the ethnicity of the perpetrators

See article from dw.com

 

 Offsite Article: Religious Correctness...


Link Here 7th January 2016
Reporters without Borders logo A year after Charlie, RSF cautions against the insidious imposition of a 'religious correctness' that poses a major threat to the journalistic freedom to inform others (and make them laugh).

See article from en.rsf.org

 

 Offsite Article: The truth about Charlie...


Link Here 7th January 2016  full story: Charlie Hebdo...Censored by terrorists
open democracy logo Oe year after the 7 January attacks. By Karima Bennoune

See article from opendemocracy.net

 

 Offsite Article: Our sacred right to blaspheme...


Link Here 6th January 2016  full story: Charlie Hebdo...Censored by terrorists
charlie hebdo logo Charlie Hebdo has been attacked, threatened, misunderstood and maligned, but it sticks to its core values. By Caroline Fourest

See article from politico.eu

 

 Update: One year on and the assassin is still amongst us...

Charlie Hebdo releases a special edition to note the anniversary of the terrorist attack


Link Here 4th January 2016  full story: Charlie Hebdo...Censored by terrorists
hebdo sepecial A special edition of Charlie Hebdo will mark a year since brothers Chérif and Saïd Kouachi burst into Charlie Hebdo's offices in eastern Paris and killed 12 people, including eight of the magazine's staff.  Included in the special edition will be a collection of cartoons by the five Charlie Hebdo artists killed in the 2015 attack as well as several external contributors.

Cartoonist Laurent Sourisseau, who took over the management of the weekly after the attack, also wrote an angry editorial in defence of secularism. It denounces:

Fanatics brutalised by the Koran as well as those from other religions who hoped for the death of the magazine for daring to laugh at the religious.

7.5 million people bought the first post-attack issue and 200,000 people signed up for a subscription. However, the magazine's staff feel unsupported in their struggle, said financial director Eric Portheault, who escaped death by hiding behind his desk when the gunmen stormed in, said:

We feel terribly alone. We hoped that others would do satire too. No one wants to join us in this fight because it's dangerous. You can die doing it.

Commemorative plaques will be unveiled at the sites of the January attacks, including at the weekly's former offices, in modest ceremonies attended by families and government officials, a City of Paris spokesman said.

On 10 January, a more public ceremony will take place on the Place de la Republique, the square in eastern Paris which became an informal memorial. President Francois Hollande will preside over the ceremony.

Update: Protests

6th January 2016. See  article from theguardian.com
See  article from theguardian.com

A Turkish state-run news agency said a court ordered the telecommunications authority to ban access to websites showing the cover. Anadolu Agency said the ban was ordered by a court in the south-eastern city of Diyarbakir. A lawyer in Diyarbakir filed a petition saying the websites were a danger to public order .

In the Philippines, police said about 1,500 people protested in the Muslim-majority city of Marawi, with local politicians and teenage students packing the main square and some raising their fists in the air as a Charlie Hebdo poster was burned. T he organisers said in a statement:

What happened in France, the Charlie Hebdo killing, is a moral lesson for the world to respect any kind of religion, especially the religion of Islam. Freedom of expression does not extend to insulting the noble and the greatest prophet of Allah.

The Muslim Council of Great Britain advised Muslims to react with dignified nobility . Its advice sheet says:

Our reaction must be a reflection of the teachings of the gentle and merciful character of the prophet (peace be upon him). Enduring patience, tolerance, gentleness and mercy as was the character of our beloved prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) is the best and immediate way to respond.

The Vatican's newspaper has criticised French satire magazine Charlie Hebdo for a front cover portraying God as a gun-wielding terrorist. In a commentary, the Vatican daily Osservatore Romano said treatment of this kind towards religion is not new -- and stressed that religious figures have repeatedly condemned violence in the name of God. The newspaper said:

Behind the deceptive flag of uncompromising secularism, the weekly is forgetting once more what religious leaders of every faith unceasingly repeat to reject violence in the name of religion -- using God to justify hatred is a genuine blasphemy, as pope Francis has said several times

In Charlie Hebdo's choice, there is the sad paradox of a world which is more and more sensitive about being politically correct, almost to the point of ridicule, yet does not wish to acknowledge or to respect believers' faith in God, regardless of the religion.

 

  Blocked Entry...

Polish police arrest religious extremists trying to picket play


Link Here 22nd November 2015
death  and  the  maidenPolish police have arrested 12 people who tried to block the entrance to a theater performance they claimed to be pornographic.

Scuffles broke out late Saturday in Wroclaw when members of a Catholic organization tried to stop theater-goers from seeing Death and the Maiden , based on the work of Nobel Prize-winning writer Elfriede Jelinek.

The protesters objected to the presence on the stage of porn stars.

The government's new culture minister, Piotr Glinski, had previously called for the show to be canceled, noting the theater is sponsored by the state budget.

 

  Cowtowing to Extremism...

Indian art exhibit vandalised by religious extremists


Link Here 22nd November 2015
suspended cowOrganizers of an art fair in India say right-wing Hindu extremists have vandalised an exhibit of a Styrofoam cow that was suspended in midair using a balloon. The activists claimed that the installation was offensive.

R.B. Gauttam, an organizer of the Jaipur Art Summit, said that the exhibit was meant to highlight how cows suffer after ingesting plastic waste at India's many garbage dumps.

 

 Update: Hunger for Offence...

Posters for Mockingjay Part 2 are censored in Jerusalem for fear of religious extremists


Link Here 19th November 2015  full story: Invisible Women in israel...Women removed from the media lest men get offended
mockingjay part 2Posters for The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2, featuring the film's female lead Jennifer Lawrence in the role of Katniss Everdeen, have been hung prominently throughout Israel.

Except for in Jerusalem and Bnei Brak There, the posters only display the fiery crow that forms the background of the poster. The foreground of Jennifer Lawrence with a bow and arrow has been excluded.

The movie's Israeli PR firm acknowledged that the poster had been sanitized for the ultra-Orthodox audience. A spokesman said:

We discovered that public posters with the image of a female are often torn down in Jerusalem, while Bnei Brak does not allow posters with female images.

The Bnei Brak municipality said in a statement that a municipal regulation prevents the hanging of posters of women that might incite the feelings of the city's residents.

The Jerusalem municipality said that it does not limit the appearance of female images in posters, but Liron Suissa, VP marketing of the company responsible for the posters, Nur Star Media, said:

Unfortunately we are subject to unofficial coercion that forces us to be more careful, Suissa said. We have had endless vandalization, and clients prefer not to take the chance. We allow everything, but we recommend hanging another visual when necessary. The decision is the client's.

 

 Update: Belief in censorship...

Facebook censors exploited by those wishing to ban atheist websites in India


Link Here 17th November 2015  full story: Facebook Censorship...Facebook quick to censor
Facebook logoA Change.org petition is urging Mark Zuckerberg to support freedom of expression in India by unblocking an atheist Facebook group with over 13,000 members titled Indian Atheists Debate Corner.

Facebook, the petition said, had not given any reason for the blockade. One day users in India who tried to visit the site were simply hit with a message that the content was unavailable. This was not the first time a Facebook page for atheists had been censored.

As usual, when shoddy Facebook censorship obtains sufficient publicity then Facebook hold up their hands, claim it was all ghastly mistake, and restore the site. Of course victims unable to raise the required publicity stay censored.

Presumably the atheist groups were flagged by Facebook users who disagree with the website. According to Facebook's transparency report released earlier this week, it censored the postings of thousands of Indian Facebook users because they were anti-religious or was deemed to be hate speech that could cause unrest and disharmony within India.

Facebook would only say that the Indian Atheists Debate Corner was blocked after a reviewer found it violated Facebook rules. After examining the page again as a result of an inquiry, Facebook decided the page did not violate its rules.

It's a reminder that Facebook censors, as The Economist wrote last year, operate under a cloak of anonymity, with no accountability to users. It is often unclear why one piece of content is removed, while another is not. But in failing to better scrutinize take-down requests and their legal underpinnings, Facebook has unwittingly contributed to a long-standing culture of religious persecution and censorship in India.

 

 Offsite Article: Russia: Blasphemy law has aided the growth of religious censorship...


Link Here 14th November 2015  full story: Blasphemy in Russia...Offending religious beliefs or desecration of holy objects or symbols
Russia flag Russia's vague laws, which see actions deemed insulting to religious beliefs punishable by up to three years in jail, have led to more censorship and self-censorship in all forms of journalism. By Ekaterina Buchneva

See article from indexoncensorship.org

 

  Fizzing Over...

Australian ginger beer label has again made the news for religious 'offence'


Link Here 13th November 2015
Brookvale Union Ginger BeerThe co-founder of an Australian brewery is accused of insulting Indians and Hindus with a ginger beer label depicting two Hindu gods.

Jaron Mitchell, co-founder of Four Pines Brewing Company, spoke to TV station SBS following the launch of an online petition calling for his company to change the label on its Brookvale Union Ginger Beer.

The label features a figure with what appears to be the body of the goddess Lakshmi and the head of the god Ganesha.

The 200 signature petition, launched by Melbourne man Amit Singh, said the label was insulting to Indians and Hindus and called for the company to withdraw it. Rather ambiguously Singh told SBS:

There are a lot of people who worship these gods and this is just not acceptable.

Mitchell said the company had been engaged in community consultation for the past two years and redesigned the label once already. He claimed a recent offer to redesign the label for a second time with members of the Hindu community had not been taken up.

Mitchell said the company first received complaints about the label in 2013 when the professionally easily offended Rajan Zed pointed out the same issue. He said the company was still eager to engage in consultation and urged community members who would like to contribute to a redesign to come forward.

 

  Religion is way more harmful than a book...

Lebanese comic book Samandal prosecuted over claims of it somehow causing religious strife


Link Here 7th November 2015

samandalOn December of 2009, and with the financial support of the Ministry of Culture as part of Beirut Book Capital of the World , Samandal put out its 7th anthology in collaboration with the Belgian publishing house, L'employe du Moi, with further support from the French Cultural Center (CCF) in Beirut and the Belgian Ministry of Culture in Brussels. This publication was the fruit of a year-long collaboration between comic artists in Lebanon and their partners in Belgium, spanning several lectures and workshops, and launched at an exhibition at the CCF with the help of the UNESCO fund.

Four months later, three of the four Samandal editors that worked on that book were charged by the public attorney with a) inciting sectarian strife b) denigrating religion c) publishing false news and d) defamation and slander.

After five years of legal proceedings, we were found guilty on the basis of article 25 of the publications law, and on April 28, 2015 we were fined 10,000,000 LL each ($20,000 in total), equal to two years and nine months in jail on failure of payment. This incrimination, instigated by religious institutions and sustained by the state, has crippled Samandal and threatens to bring our decade-long career in comics to an end.

We began Samandal as a volunteer-based, non-profit organization in 2007 because we felt that comics were an underrepresented medium in our part of the world. We wanted to create a platform to tell stories from Lebanon and the Middle East, as well as to bring independent comics from around the world to a local audience. Alongside publishing comics, we also organized countless workshops, comics jams, international artist exchanges, and lectures, opening up the dialogue to include artists from different disciplines, and along with Metropolis Art Cinema have co-founded Beirut Animated, the biennial animation festival in Beirut.

It thus came as a surprise when we found out that the state had charged us with inciting sectarian strife. Our case began with a letter sent by the minister of information to the minister of justice requesting litigation against Samandal on account of Christian personalities finding two panels in two separate comics offensive to religion. The minister of justice in turn referred the case to the public prosecutor at the court of cassation.

The comics themselves address religion only tangentially and deal satirically with completely different subjects. However, a handful of panels were selectively taken out of context as proof of blasphemy (akin to indicting a publisher for having a character in a book use the name of the lord in vain.) We want to present these comics to you in their entirety ( Lebanese Recipes for Revenge by Lena Merhej & Ecce Homo by Valfret) so that you may judge their disruptive natures for yourselves, however we cannot link to them directly for fear of a recurrence of the whole legal debacle. Instead we direct you to our co-publisher's website grandpapier.com

Despite our lawyers' airtight legal defense against these claims, the court fell back on the vagaries of an elastic censorship law and a cohort of complacent public servants to criminalize and punish us, in the process committing several legal violations to wit:

  1. The three editors currently have warrants of subjugation issued against them. These illegal warrants, issued by General Security (despite being annulled by the decision of the council of ministers no. 10 dated 24/7/2014), give it the power to delay official transactions, hold passports, and harass subjects at will. Warrants of subjugation are regularly issued against human rights activists, lawyers and authors/artists as a method of intimidation.

  2. The publication law in Lebanon places the legal responsibility for such cases primarily on the authors of the offending story, in this case, Ms. Merhej (also one of the editors of Samandal) and Valfret, and then on the publisher, Samandal Association in this case. Instead, the legal proceedings ignored these laws and targeted three of the four editors personally, incurring triple the charges and triple the fines.

  3. The editors were never allowed to testify at the cassation court, even after repeated official requests were made. The same court rejected our request to summon the authors as witnesses.

The assumption that we built a platform such as Samandal to take cheap shots at religious institutions is absurd, and the richness of our publications speaks for themselves. We respect all religions equally and have no interest in targeting any single one for ridicule. However, we have no respect, and in fact much contempt, for those who use religion as a way of exercising their power and tightly policing public discourse.

The assertion that Samandal is insulting the Christian faith is an attempt to pit Samandal against Christianity and religion as a whole, when in fact it is a few individuals in power who are purposefully misreading the work in order to monopolize the conversation and deflect from their own incompetence at state legislation and their own incitement of sectarian strife when it suits them to do so. It is an unfortunate irony that a non-profit publishing platform for comics was prosecuted for crimes that continue to be committed daily by various politicians and their respective news outlets. Religion has been wrested from the hands of worshippers and into the chokehold of state institutions, stifling conversation and reducing all debate to a reductive binary of with us or against us. We refuse to be a part of that exchange. In fact, Samandal was created precisely to provide an alternative space for a different kind of dialogue, one much richer in language and nuanced in its discussions of the subtleties of the world around us.

Far from being an isolated incident, the Samandal case is simply one iteration within a longstanding practice of arbitrary and unjust state censorship and silencing of artistic production. There is a pressing need to strike a balance between the dangers of censorship on artistic freedom to that of the rights of the plaintiff and other religious sensitivities. This balance becomes even more imperative when the defendant is an artist, while the plaintiff is the public prosecution, or a powerful economic or religious figure, who stands to lose little or nothing in return.

Today Samandal is threatened with imminent collapse because of the capricious and biased application of an antiquated censorship law. The upcoming release of Geographia will be the final issue we can publish as Samandal's finances have been crippled by the damages of the lawsuit forcing our organization to shut down.

However, our love of comics and our ambitions to publish more have not been dampened by this incident and we hope to protest this ruling by continuing to publish, improve and expand Samandal with your continued solidarity. Samandal has survived and thrived because of the involvement and support of its public, and we now call on you to help us relaunch the publication. We hope that a crowdfunding campaign will help us get back on our feet and furthermore publish two new anthologies of Samandal comics. If you would like to help us in our push back, please donate at our online crowdfunding campaign.

 

 Update: Ultimate Censorship...

More Bangladeshi writers presumably murdered by religious extremists


Link Here 1st November 2015  full story: Blasphemy in Bangladesh...Penalising disbelief
Bangladesh flagA publisher of secular books has been hacked to death in the Bangladeshi capital. In a separate attack in Dhaka, police said two other writers and a publisher were stabbed and shot at a publishing house.

Occurences of Islamist violence have been growing in Bangladesh after at least four atheist bloggers were murdered in the country this year. The attacks have been linked by police to domestic Islamist extremists, while Islamic State has claimed responsibility for three other attacks.

The body of Faisal Abedin Deepan, of the Jagriti Prokashoni publishing house, was found inside his office, said senior police officer Shibly Noman. Earlier in the day, publisher Ahmed Rahim Tutul was attacked in the office of the Shudhdhoswar publishing house and seriously wounded. Two writers were also wounded in that attack. All three of the victims were hospitalised, and Tutul was in critical condition, police said.

Both Deepan and Tutal had published books by Bangladeshi-American writer and blogger Avijit Roy , who was hacked to death in February . He was one of the four secular bloggers killed in Bangladesh this year.

A local Islamist group, Ansarullah Bangla Team, had claimed responsibility for the killings and recently threatened to kill more bloggers.

 

  Heard the one about the Supreme Court judge who fell of his bench laughing...

Indian Supreme Court to hear petition to ban online jokes about sikhs


Link Here 31st October 2015
india supreme courtIndia's Supreme Court has agreed to hear a case which seeks a ban on jokes about Sikhs. The petition claims that such jokes are a violation of sikh's right to equality with fellow citizens and an attack on the dignity of the community. The petitioner said the court should order the government to ensure such online jokes are banned or blocked.

Filed by Sikh lawyer Harvinder Chowdhury, the petition also says offenders should be told to deposit a compensation in the National Legal Aid Fund. It adds that the Ministries of Telecom and Information and Broadcasting should either ban the websites or direct them to remove such jokes since they tend to portray the sikh community as people of low intellect .

Chowdhury complained that she had to suffer humiliation because of such jokes even when she was abroad, and that her children insist on not having Singh or Kaur as surnames to avoid embarrassment.

But judges told her that there are many Sikhs who do not mind such jokes:

Many people we know take these jokes sportingly. It may not be an insult but only some casual comic statements for amusement. You want all such jokes to stop but Sikhs may themselves oppose this.

The case will be heard in a month.

 

  Voices of Nations Censored...

Toronto bans long running christian festival for singing about Jesus in a public square


Link Here 31st October 2015
voices of the nations logoThe City of Toronto is refusing to grant a Christian group a permit to use a prominent downtown square for its annual musical festival next year, because the city has decided that singing the name of Jesus in the public venue contravenes city policy against proselytizing.

Voices of the Nations (VON) has been using city property since 2006 for an annual multi denominational christian event featuring live music and dance. It has been using the Yonge-Dundas Square without issue for the past five years. This year's August 1 event attracted 19 different performance acts, including children's choirs and popular Christian bands, where well-known praise-and-worship songs such as Days Of Elijah are performed.

When VON's Events Coordinator Leye Oyelani contacted the Square's Manager of Events Natalie Belman last week by phone to apply for next year's permit, he was told that a permit would not be issued and to look for a venue elsewhere. Belman said:

I've already advised Peter [Paresh, Director of VON] that we're not going to be permitting you guys this year for next year because of the proselytizing on the square, and that's a big issue for us.

When Oyelani asked the city official exactly who proselytized at the event, Belman responded that the performers did:

If you're praising Jesus, 'praise the Lord,' and 'there's no God like Jehovah,' that type of thing, that's proselytizing.

 

  A bit too provocative...

Posters promoting Sam Harris events understandably rejected by Australian billboard company


Link Here 30th October 2015
an evening with sam harris Billboards insulting Christian communion wafers and asking if people can flush the Koran down the toilet have been rejected by a major Australian outdoor advertising company.

The ads were to be posted in Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane to promote atheist and American author Sam Harris, who is touring in January. Promoters had planned to run quotes from the top-selling author's books pasted on black billboards.

One of the four advertisements featured the symbolic communion wafer, saying:

Jesus Christ -- who, as it turns out, was born of a virgin, cheated death, and rose bodily into the heavens -- can now be eaten in the form of a cracker.

Another said:

We are now in the 21st century. All books, including the Qur'an, should be fair game for flushing down the toilet without fear of violent reprisal.

Advertising giant APN Outdoor confirmed it rejected the ads because they did not comply with the Outdoor Media Association's code of ethics, which states ads cannot include material that vilifies religion.

 

 Updated: Arpat...

Thai film censors unban horror film featuring a buddhist monk after cuts


Link Here 19th October 2015  full story: Censored Films in Thailand...Thai censors hack away
abatThailand's state film censors at the Ministry of Censorship Culture have banned a horror film centring on the life of a teenage monk after the movie caused a stir among Buddhist hardliners who claimed that the film insults Buddhism.

Producers said in a tweet that it has to postpone screening the film Abat ('offense' in the Pali language, the language of Theravada Buddhism). The movie company stated:

The movie has been banned by the Film and Media Screening Committee (the committee of the Department of Cultural Promotion under the Ministry of Culture).

The Ministry informed the movie's producer and distributor that the film needs to be cut before it could go on screen.

On 23 September 2015, five Buddhist organisations, namely the Association of Scholars for Buddhism, the Buddhism Protection Centre of Thailand, the Buddhist Women's Association, the Network to Protect the Nation, Religion, and Monarchy, and the Buddhists Network, issued a joint statement to the Ministry of Culture against the film. The statement which was submitted to Veera Rojpojanarat, the Minister of Culture, urged him to review the content of the film. It was also sent to the film producers asking them to rethink whether the film is appropriate for screening in the country. In the statement, the five religious organisations wrote that the content of the movie shows disrespect towards Buddhism and Buddhist monks in the country and is valueless .

The film is about a delinquent teenager who was forced by his parents to ordain as a Buddhist monk, but continues with his usual layman lifestyle while developing a sexual relationship with a young female protagonist, which later leads him to uncover the dark secrets in his monastery. One of the controversial scenes in the film which shows the leading protagonist in a Buddhist monk's robe touching a woman, an action which is prohibited in the Buddhist monks' code of conduct

Surapot Taweesak, a Buddhist and philosophy scholar, however, shared his thoughts on the matter through Matichon News that there is nothing wrong with the film. He said that the call to ban the film shows a lack of tolerance and disrespect towards freedom of expression, which ironically goes against the principles of freedom of thought in Buddhism itself.

Update: Passed 18 after cuts

17th October 2015. See  article from bangkokpost.com

Arpat , the new name of the banned Thai film Arbat , passed the censorship board on Friday and was issued with an 18-plus rating after cuts. (Note, the actual name uses a Thai letter with no equivalence in English. It is half way between b and p, hence there's a choice of which to use in transliteration to English)

Several 'sensitive' scenes have been cut from the original version, and a warning text appears at the start.

State censors who judged the film yesterday were different from those who banned the previous version of the film on Monday. The ban was imposed on the grounds that the movie would tarnish the image of Buddhism through telling a story of misbehaving monks, (a sensitive issue in Thailand as there are plenty of misbehaving monks, many are just regular guys doing their duty of a short term stint as a monk, often under pressure from families).

The new version has been censored of a scene of a young monk kissing a girl, a monk drinking alcohol and a monk touching the head of a Buddha statue, among others.

A warning stressing the film is a work of fiction has been inserted at the start of the film.

Prachya admits that the title change, from Arbat to Arpat, may sound like a silly move , but he said it is a strategy to submit the new film for consideration while retaining the right to appeal for a new verdict of the original film:

We want to appeal for a permit of the original Arbat, but the process takes a long time, so we presented the re-edited version and called it Arpat instead.

Update: More on Thai film censorship

19th October 2015. See  article from bangkokpost.com

thai ministry of culture logoThe hullabaloo around the Thai film Arpat is the latest example of problems caused by what some people in the film industry perceive as flaws in the Film and Video Act 2008.

Some of the controversial aspects of the law, which was passed by the coup-appointed National Legislative Assembly, include the composition of the censor committees, and the measure that allows a film to be banned for national security reasons. Also criticised were a conservative interpretation of the rules, and most importantly strict state control over film, compared to lighter regulation of other cheaper and more accessible media such as television and print.

Many filmmakers believe the law, which introduced the rating system, poses many problems. Manit Sriwanichpoom, whose film Shakespeare Must Die was banned in 2012., said:

The law says the rating committee consists of four government officials and three representatives from the private sector, but what happens is that these three 'private representatives' are often those who are close to the bureaucrats, and they have to be approved by the bureaucrats first. That means the state still controls the thinking and the judgement.

The first film banned under the new film law was Insect in the Backyard in 2010. It tells the story of a transgender father and his two children, one of them a male prostitute.

According to Kajornsak Putthanupap, who chaired the committee that banned the film Arpat, there are six rotating committees taking turns to watch films and give a rating. He said Arpat was initially banned because it might create unnecessary conflicts in society if the committee had let it pass .

But for filmmakers, such thinking is unfair treatment to film, given the fact that content in other media, such as magazines or television, does not require state approval before its release. Pantham Thongsang, a film producer who has campaigned for a fairer film law for the past 10 years, said:

Some committees rely purely on their imagination that if a film has been released, such and such a bad thing would happen. It's like you forbid someone from leaving the house because you imagine he might go out and kill someone.

 

 Updated: Ongoing censorship...

Saudi Arabia and Iran still seeking to ban Sir Salman Rushdie's Satanic Verses


Link Here 13th October 2015  full story: Satanic Verses...Salman Rushdie irritation of the muslim world
Satanic Verses Salman Rushdie Saudi Arabia has summoned the Czech ambassador over a new translation of Sir Salman Rushdie's book Satanic Verses .

Saudi expressed its condemnation and disapproval of translating the book , which it claims is offensive to Islam, and hopes the Prague government will ban the publication of the work. It was reported that Saudi demanded that religion and cultures not be insulted in any way or form.

But Czech Foreign Minister Lubomir Zaoralek told his country's CTK news agency:

We have no reason to interfere in any way because we have freedom of the press and expression.

Meanwhile Iran has announced that it is boycotting a Frankfurt book fair after organisers invited Rushdie as a guest speaker. The foreign ministry said the fair had:

Under the pretext of freedom of expression, invited a person who is hated in the Islamic world and create the opportunity for Salman Rushdie ... to make a speech.

The ministry also called on other Muslim nations to join its boycott. Deputy culture minister Abbas Salehi said:

Fair officials chose the theme of freedom of expression, but they invited someone who has insulted our beliefs.

Update: Censors Rebuffed

13th October 2015. See  article from thebookseller.com

The Frankfurt Book Fair has said that freedom of expression is non-negotiable , in response to the Iranian Ministry of Culture's confirmed boycott of this week's fair over the presence of keynote speaker Salman Rushdie. Juergen Boos, director of the Frankfurt Book Fair, said:

We very much regret the Iranian Ministry of Culture's cancellation. Frankfurt Book Fair is a place of dialogue. At the same time, we hope that this year's cancellation is just a brief interruption in the existing conversations and that we can continue to expand on the established relationships. Nevertheless, for us, freedom of expression is non-negotiable. We must not forget that Rushdie is still being threatened with death for his work.

The Frankfurt Book Fair has said it hopes for further dialogue with the Iranian Ministry of Censorship.

 

 Offsite Article: A glimpse into the inhumanity of political correctness...


Link Here 3rd October 2015
the spectator logo Why are students now cheering about the massacre at Charlie Hebdo? By Brendan O'Neill

See article from blogs.new.spectator.co.uk

 

  Campaign for Free Expression...

A new campaign focussing on blasphemy law as used to restrict free speech


Link Here 2nd October 2015
A new Campaign for Free Expression has been launched focussing on the issue of free expression being restricted by international blasphemy laws. The campaign is an offshoot from the secular campaign group Center for Inquiry , and introduces itself as follows:

campaign for free expression logo Since we at the Center for Inquiry first launched the Campaign for Free Expression website in 2012, a lot has changed, and a lot has stayed the same.

Let me start with what has not changed: There remains a global crackdown on freedom of expression, blasphemy laws exist in more than 50 countries, and often times, in countries such as Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, these laws are still viciously enforced. Governments are still too often in thrall to political pressure from extremist religious movements, rather than responding to the rights and needs of all people. Countries with dreadful human rights records still hold too much sway at the United Nations, and organize to resist, and reverse, progress on freedom of thought.

And, unfortunately, many of the dissidents and victims of persecution we highlighted when this site was first launched remain either imprisoned or in legal or even mortal danger.

But things have also changed, some for better, some for worse. Alexander Aan of Indonesia, jailed for posting to Facebook about his atheism, was released from prison after 19 months, and now pursues his love of science, and works toward a degree in physics. Raif Badawi, jailed in 2012 for insulting Islam in Saudi Arabia, was eventually sentenced to 10 years and an unthinkable 1000 lashes. But his story has elevated the cause of free expression, and the United States' problematic relationship with Saudi Arabia, to international attention. The protest band Pussy Riot became globally known symbols of free speech, particularly the right to criticize one's government, and now, out of prison, continue to rally support to the cause. And at the diplomatic level, the once-relentless efforts by certain countries to codify a kind of global blasphemy law at the United Nations have largely dissipated. For now.

Some things have gotten much worse. One need look no further than the crisis in Bangladesh, where four secularist bloggers have been murdered by Islamic radicals in 2015 alone, with many more on a hit list of names singled out for death by extremist groups, some reportedly affiliated with Al Qaeda. One of the victims, Avijit Roy, was a naturalized U.S. citizen who assisted us with our worldwide protests against the jailing of atheist bloggers in 2013.

Violence in response to perceived blasphemy reached Paris at the end of 2014 with the massacre of journalists and cartoonists at the satire magazine Charlie Hebdo. Sony Pictures, for a time, capitulated to the demands of what may or may not have been the North Korean government, when violence was threatened over the screening of the film The Interview. And right here in the United States, the peaceful citizens of Ferguson, Missouri, protesting the killing of Michael Brown, had their free expression rights curbed by a militarized police force.

The silver lining to these ongoing concerns is that free expression and the right to criticize and satirize religion, cultural traditions, and governments is now a topic of mainstream debate and discussion. Now, more than ever, the world community is taking seriously the need to defend free speech, and wrestling with how to navigate the fundamental right to free religious belief (including the right not to believe) and the equally fundamental right of individuals to criticize religious beliefs.

We are proud to have led so much of this conversation, to have been at the forefront of this great challenge, a challenge that tests our notions of a global civilization, and calls us to be our best, most humanistic selves.

With so much change, and with so much that still needs to change, we thought it was also time to rethink our campaign website, to refocus our online presence, and better respond to the rapid developments on this broad and explosive topic.

So take a look around the new site. See the updated case files of those persecuted for their dissent. Educate yourself on the issue with our various materials and media, including statements to the UN Human Rights Council. And most importantly, check out the ways you can get involved.

The right to free expression is as big as the world, and as we've seen so often, responses and suppressions of free expression have reverberations far beyond any one country's borders. But you can help us get this important concept across those borders, into the hearts and minds of government officials, diplomats, and the general public:

Ideas don't need rights. People do. Protect dissent.

...See more at Campaign for Free Expression

 

  MICE-IS...

Artwork mocking ISIS is censored by police who refused to provide the additional security required


Link Here 29th September 2015
mimsy isisSatirical art  using children's toy characters from the Sylvanian Families to mock Islamic State (ISIS) has been banned from a freedom of speech exhibition over fears of muslim violence.

The work was censored from the schedule at the Passion for Freedom exhibition at London's Mall Galleries after police raised serious concerns about the possibility of a terrorist atrocity against visitors. Police feared crazed jihadis would take offence and launch a reprisal attack in response to the heavily mocking artwork.

Officers told exhibition organisers they would have to pay £36,000 to hire extra security if the piece was displayed, forcing the gallery to remove it from display.

The works mocked the Islamist fanatics by showing them lurking in the background of ordinary family scenes depicted as characters from the popular Sylvanian Families toy set. A description for the piece, called ISIS Threaten Sylvania, said:

Far away, in the land of Sylvania, rabbits, foxes, hedgehogs, mice and all woodland animals have overcome their differences to live in harmonious peace and tranquillity.

MICE-IS, a fundamentalist Islamic terror group, are threatening to dominate Sylvania, and annihilate every species that does not submit to their hard-line version of sharia law.

The decision provoked outrage from both the artist, Mimsy, and people online, who said the terrorist group should not be able to dictate what the British public can see. Mimsy said:

I love my freedom. I'm aware of the very real threat to that freedom from Islamic fascism and I'm not going to pander to them or justify it like many people on the left are doing.

Author Ben Goldacre tweeted:

Dear The British Police, I want you to protect free speech from violence, maybe spend less time on cannabis smokers?

Index on Censorship CEO Jodie Ginsberg said:

Concerns over terror are being inflated to such an extent that perfectly legitimate, non-criminal expression, is being shut down across Britain: from university campuses, to theatre stages, to art galleries. The upcoming extremism bill could worsen the situation further. In the case of the Sylvanian Families exhibit, we need to do more to ensure that police work with venues to promote freedom of expression, not stifle it.

 

  Having a beef with social media...

Indian state shuts down the internet as locals use social media to criticise a religious ban on beef


Link Here 26th September 2015
jammu and kashmir flagThe Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir has imposed a 3 day shutdown of the mobile internet because locals are using social media to criticise a state law banning beef on religious grounds. The state is predominantly muslim, and so residents are unimpressed by the imposition of a law grounded in hinduism..

Inspector General of Police of Kashmir as well as Jammu region wrote a letter to all ISPs to extend the termination of data services to 3 days. He said:

In view of the apprehension of misuse of data services (GPRS/2G/3G) by anti-national elements, which is likely to cause deterioration in law and order situation, you are requested to completely snap down the data services through GPRS/2G/3G and broadband till 2 PM of September 27.

The measure has been taken because of apprehension of communal tension in the backdrop of the High Court directive for implementation of an old law that bans slaughter and selling of beef. Some separatist groups have said they will defy the court order, and proceeded to make their case by posting comments and videos on social media.

 

 Commented: What has caused the most misery in the world, religion or porn?...

Theological debate at Melbourne University after internet porn is banned from student residence...


Link Here 18th September 2015
meloboure university logoStudents have been banned from accessing pornography at the University of Melbourne's largest residential college, sparking a fiery campus debate on sexual freedoms and censorship.

Ormond College has blocked access to adult sites on its Wi-Fi network, claiming that pornography does not allow people at a formative stage of life to develop a healthy sexuality .

But some students have reacted angrily to the censorship, arguing they pay $200 a semester for college Wi-Fi, and in the privacy of their own rooms they should be allowed to access legal adult sites.

Inevitably the college master in charge is a theologian who seeks to impose his religious nonsense on other people. Dr Rufus Black claimed in a student newsletter that pornography was exploitative and presents women primarily as sex objects who are a means to the end of male pleasure . He preached  that allowing the college's 400 students to access porn on its network would be condoning the objectification of women. He spouted:

Pornographic material overwhelmingly presents women in ways that are profoundly incompatible with our understanding of what it is to treat people with respect and dignity.

He maintained that even same-sex pornography was treating another person as a means to an end , and that porn was addictive.

Rachel Withers, president of the Melbourne University Student Union, said as long as students were accessing legal sites what they viewed in the privacy of their own rooms should be their decision:

I would personally prefer to see colleges tackling issues around respect for women's bodies and consent through educational programs and ensuring students receive comprehensive information on consent as part of their college orientation.

Offsite Comment: Rufus Black preaches about imposing his religious morality on others

18th September 2015. See  sermon from abc.net.au

rufus-blackIn a free and plural society, our disposition is to prefer freedom with responsibility over restriction. ...However ... the priority we give to freedom does not relieve us of the task of deciding what we as a community are going to be about.

... Read the full sermon

 

 Update: Femen makes topless protest at muslim conference...

Maybe the usual silly protest, but you have got to admire their bravery as they inevitably get a good kicking for their efforts


Link Here 15th September 2015  full story: Femen...scattershot protests from protesting sextremists
at muslim conference video Two members of the protest group Femen have been arrested after disrupting a controversial Muslim conference in Paris.

The topless women, with the words Nobody makes me submit , painted on their chests -- stormed the stage at the event in Pontoise.

The stunt saw the women, themselves of muslim origin, shout feminist slogans in Arabic and French as two Imams addressed the audience, before they were physically removed from the stage by a number of men, who were seen to be giving the girls a good kicking.

The women burst onto the stage as two Imams addressed the audience. Femen leader Inna Shevchenko says the activists received death threats from the audience. Shevchenko told Huffington Post UK the protesters were from Muslim families and had raised their voices in disgust at this public hate speech. She said:

The Imams were very careful in their speech this time as the public outrage by the event was loud. The Imam was addressing the question of whether women should be beaten or not and said that as Mohammed didn't beat women, the men shouldn't do it as well.

Just a minute later, Femen activists were brutally beaten up by the organisers of the event on the same stage.

The conference, which reportedly addressed the role of women in Islam, was subject to a Change.org petition calling for it to be cancelled. The petition states guests included: Fundamentalist preachers such as Abu Anas Nader, known for having legitimised marital rape and the wider submission of women.

According to the Telegraph the women were released after being questioned by prosecutors who will continue to investigate the incident. It reports the conference organisers say they will press charges against them. However there is no mention of charges against the men who assaulted the girls.

 

  A culture of censorship...

Saudi bans the latest edition of National Geographic for cultural reasons


Link Here 11th September 2015
national geographic saudiSaudi Arabia has banned the Arabic edition of National Geographic, whose front showed the pope standing in the Sistine Chapel.

Regional editor-in-chief, Alsaad Omar Al Menhaly made explained on Twitter:

Dear readers in Saudi Arabia, we apologize for you not obtaining August's magazine. According to the publishing company, the magazine was denied entry for cultural reasons. Chief Editor.

The cover story addresses Pope Francis' silent revolution and hopes to create a church that is poor and for the poor .

Kacem El Ghazzali, a secular activist from Morocco said it was fairly common for scores of scientific, secular, and philosophical to be banned in Saudi. He added:

Thousands of blogs and websites are also banned in the country and contrary to most Arab countries, Saudi Arabia never tries to hide its intentions and recognition of censorship.

 

  Insulting free speech...

Bahrain introduces new blasphemy bill criminalising the criticism of religion


Link Here 2nd September 2015
Bahrain flagBahrain 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.

 

  Isis are not the only religious vandals...

Russian group vandalises historic art in the name of religion


Link Here 1st September 2015
mephistopheles destroyedOn Sunday over a thousand Russians protested in Saint Petersburg after a one hundred year old relief sculpture of a mythical demon was destroyed by a group calling themselves The Cossacks of Saint Petersburg highlighting the increased religious intolerance under President Vladimir Putin.

The figure of Mephistopheles, a bat-winged creature on Lakhtinskaya Street dated from 1910. It was said to depict the Russian opera singer Feodor Chaliapin, famed for his role of Mephistopheles.

The sculpture was torn off the facade of an Art Nouveau period building in Saint Petersburg, in a religiously-motivated act of cultural vandalism. Police have now launched an investigation.

More than a thousand people including architecture conservationists gathered in front of the building in the city centre to express their shock over what this brazen act of vandalism. Hands off art, read one placard, while another one said in English: Save our Saint Petersburg.

The Cossacks of Saint Petersburg group said in a statement:

Mephistopheles embodies evil in this world and this person decided to act, most likely, to kill Evil.

The figure encouraged "open worship of Satan" and was unacceptable because it was opposite a church.

 

  Ultimate censorship...

Religious censors murder rationalist Indian scholar


Link Here 1st September 2015

India flagRenowned Indian scholar and rationalist, M M Kalburgi, has been killed after being shot by unidentified men in the southern state of Karnataka, police have said. Police said on Sunday that two men came to Kalburgi's residence in the town of Dharwad and shot him after he opened the door.

Dharwad City Police Commissioner Ravindra Prasad told Al Jazeera that police was considering it as a case of murder and a special squad has been formed to work on the case. He said the police did not suspect any particular group and that the investigation was under way with an open mind.

Kalburgi, who was former vice chancellor of Kannada University in the southern town of Hampi, was mired in a controversy in June 2014 for his remarks against idol worship , which is an important aspect of Hindu belief.

Far-right groups such as the Vishwa Hindu Parishat and Bajrang Dal had filed cases against him and also demanded his arrest for allegedly offending religious sentiments. Kalburgi had recently asked the police to withdraw armed guards, who were deployed at his house after he received a number of threats over his remarks on idol worship.

His murder comes months after a social activist Govind Pansare was killed while on a morning walk in the city of Kolhapur in the western Maharashtra state.

 

 Update: Insulting Free Speech...

A Quebec Bill is being debated that will establish censors on the lookout for blasphemy and crimes against political correctness


Link Here 31st August 2015  full story: Human Rights in Canada...Canada's Human Rights works against free speech
nationale du quebecThere's a debate in the Canadian province of Quebec over the future of free speech. The Quebec Parliament is currently debating whether to pass Bill 59, a bill that would grant the Quebec Human Rights Commission (QHRC) the authority to investigate so-called hate speech , even without a complaint being filed.

The Head of the QHRC, Jacques Frémont has already openly said that he plans to use such powers:

"To sue those critical of certain ideas, 'people who would write against ... the Islamic religion ... on a website or on a Facebook page'"

The legality of the QHRC asserting jurisdiction over the entire Canadian Internet-using public is under debate, but the consensus in Canada appears to be that this bill is a step backwards.  In 2013, the Canadian parliament moved to end scrutiny of Internet speech by its Human Right Commissions when it abolished the infamous Section 13 , of Canada's Human Rights Act. The elimination of the censorious clause followed a successful campaign given voice by Mark Steyn and Ezra Levant after the two were targeted for writings and publications which reportedly "offending" Muslims.

But like a zombie rising from the grave, the idea of censoring "blasphemous" speech, continues to come back, no matter how dead it may have appeared.

 

 Update: A baptism of intolerance...

Religious extremists vandalise sculptures at Moscow art exhibition


Link Here 18th August 2015  full story: Art Censorship in Russia...Art exhibitions winds up the nutters
megsoma mars st john the baptist 2Religious 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.

 

 Offsite Article: We must be free to hurt Muslims' feelings...


Link Here 13th August 2015  full story: Blasphemy in Bangladesh...Penalising disbelief
Spiked logo Why we must stand with Bangladesh's vilified secularist bloggers. By Brendan O'Neill

See article from spiked-online.com

 

  New Zealand imposes strict new blasphemy laws...

An extreme new political correctness law bans messages offending the easily offended or insulting religion


Link Here 10th August 2015  full story: Internet Censorship in New Zealand...New Zealand considers internet blocking
New Zealand flagNew Zealand has imposed some of the world's strictest blasphemy laws by stealth, a humanist group says.

The new Harmful Digital Communications Act could have the effect of landing a person in jail for two years for committing blasphemy, the New Zealand Humanist Society president Mark Honeychurch:

This legislation not only flies in the face of human rights, but the introduction of yet another law that gives special privileges to religions is unfair, unpopular and unrepresentative of our society, where over 40 per cent of New Zealanders identify as not religious, making this our country's largest single belief group.

The society said the act stated digital communications should not denigrate an individual by reason of his or her colour, race, ethnic or national origins, religion, gender, sexual orientation, or disability .

Honeychurch said the law would effectively impose some of the world's strictest penalties - including fines of up to $50,000 - on people found guilty of blaspheming, or insulting religion. He added:

We want to increase social cohesion and understanding, and by awarding privileges and protecting groups from critique we are closing the door on free speech, free inquiry and public debate. New Zealand has to abolish its blasphemy laws before they are used to censor, suppress, and silence public debate

Last month, lawyers cited in The Law Report said another possible unintended consequence of the law would be the establishment of a new legal avenue for recipients of defamatory digital content.

Justice Minister Amy Adams defended the censorship law claiming it would take a lot for someone to be charged under the act:

Not only must the perpetrator be responsible for posting the communication, they must intend to harm another person and that harm must actually occur. The offence is targeted at the very worst online behaviours, and will not censor, suppress or silence public debate.

 

 Update: Serial Killers...

Religious extremists in Bangladesh continue working their murderous way through a list of atheist bloggers


Link Here 8th August 2015  full story: Blasphemy in Bangladesh...Penalising disbelief

Bangladesh flagOn Friday, August 7 at approximately 1:45pm, five assailants armed with machetes entered the flat of blogger Niloy Neel and killed him brutally . When his wife and sister attempted to save him, the attackers threatened to kill them too.

Niloy is the fourth blogger to be killed in Bangladesh over the last six months. All those killed were secular and critical of extremist muslim political movements in the country. Many more have been attacked, subjected to death threats and ostracized by religious hardliners for their writing.

The blogger had written under the pen name Niloy Neel in Istishon (meaning station in Bengali) as a member of a Bengali group blog that covered political and social issues. Neel was vocal about secularism and wrote for the platform Ganajagaran Mancha , demanding capital punishment for 1971 war criminals. Neel was also writing in support of women's rights, indigenous peoples, even for all other minorities. He was critic of religious extremism that provoked bombing in mosque and killing thousands of civilians.

The names of these bloggers and others under threat appeared on a list of 84 people submitted to a special government committee by a group of extremist Muslim clerics who accused the bloggers of atheism and writing against Islam. Government officials responded by blocking critical websites and making arrests of bloggers and leaders from the religious right.

Eleven of the bloggers on the list (including Niloy) have now been killed over the past two years.

 

  Recommended by Moralists...

Hard right Catholic group persuade French court to demand an 18 rating for Gaspar Noe's Love


Link Here 6th August 2015
Love BR Blu ray Aomi Muyock July Love is a 2015 France / Belgium drama by Gaspar Noé.
Starring Gaspar Noé, Aomi Muyock and Klara Kristin. Youtube link IMDb

A sexual melodrama about a boy and a girl and another girl. It's a love story, which celebrates sex in a joyous way.

The film complete with extensive, non-simulated sex scenes in 3D, seems fated to become the cause célèbre for an alleged new wave of prudishness in France.

After a complaint by a right-wing pressure group, a panel of judges ruled this week that the movie should be given an 18 age restriction, a rating in France that is reserved for pornography.

The director and the producer of Love say that the decision reflects the increasing, censorious influence of the Catholic hard right in France.  They have appealed to the state watchdog, the Conseil d'Etat .

After the Paris administrative court ruled that its over-16 classification should be withdrawn, the movie's producer, Vincent Maraval, tweeted: "In France it is now forbidden to love if you are under the age of 18."  In an interview with the newspaper Libération , he said:

We must now wait for the ruling of the Conseil d'Etat . We will then know what kind of country France has become.

The legal challenge was made by a right-wing pressure group Promouvoir, which works to "promote Judeo-Christian values in all areas of social life". A panel of judges decided this week that the "repetition" and "prominence" of non-simulated sex scenes was "likely to disturb the sensibility of minors".

They ordered that the film's classification be raised to over 18.

Another French director, Jean-Paul Salomé, said that the ruling overturned France's traditionally liberal-minded system of film classification and left it open to "second guessing" by right-wing groups and the courts.  He added:

The decision is absurd at a time when anyone, minor or not, can easily find on the internet images far more traumatic than anything in Gaspar Noé's film.

 

 Update: The sword inevitably proves mightier than the pen...

Charlie Hebdo will no longer feature Mohammed cartoons


Link Here 18th July 2015
sword and pen The editor of the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo has said the magazine will no longer draw cartoons of the religious character Mohammed.

Laurent Sourisseau told news magazine, Stern , that the magazine had done its job and what it had set out to fulfil. The weekly magazine's editor, who is known as Riss, said:

We have drawn Mohammad to defend the principle that one can draw whatever they want. It is a bit strange though: we are expected to exercise a freedom of expression that no one dares to.

We've done our job. We have defended the right to caricature.

He told the German magazine he did not want to believe the magazine was possessed by Islam but maintained that he believed that they had the right to criticise all religions .

 

  St. Mary Mac's Holy Rack...

Australian censors reveal a little 'outrageous' fun from their archive


Link Here 13th July 2015
st mary mac in zoo Documents released under freedom of information laws reveal that Australia's Classification Board found there was no reason to restrict sales of ZOO Weekly's Saint Mary Mac and Her Holy Rack edition in 2010.

The lads' mag caused 'outrage' with photographs of a model on all fours with the caption: She's begging for it ... so she can give it to the poor!

Mary MacKillop is a historical figure, born in 1842, who eventually became Australia's first and only Roman Catholic saint. The Catholic Archdiocese of Sydney labelled the publication as:

Disgusting, an insult to her legacy and demeaning to all Australian women.

Although Government censors found the picture spread was in bad taste and could be offensive to some, it did not warrant ZOO to be deemed a submittable publication , which would restrict its sales to people aged 18 or over.

Classification Board director Donald McDonald found the classifiable elements of sex, nudity and themes did not have a high impact. He wrote that censors' role was based on community standards and the principle adults should be able to read, hear and see what they want -- with appropriate exceptions.

 

  Drawing the Line in Malta...

Maltese government drafts legislation to repeal blasphemy laws and to legalise sex shops


Link Here 8th July 2015  full story: Censorship Law in Malta...Lawnmakers hide obscenity law behind child protection
Malta flag Porn shops, cuirrently illegal in Malta, will soon be able to open on the strength of legal reforms that will allow pornographic material to be displayed so long as a clear warning is affixed outside the shop. The warning must read:

Warning. Persons passing beyond this notice will find material on display which they may consider indecent. No admittance to persons under 18 years of age.

It will still be illegal to distribute pornographic material in public places and to expose children or the unsuspecting public to pornographic material.

This is one of a series of legal reforms addressing morality and censorship. Another amendment decriminalises the vilification of religion.

Justice Minister Owen Bonnici said these reforms showed that government did not believe that the State ought to be the moral custodian of adults. He said:

Adults are to be treated as adults... These reforms aim to incentivise freedom of artistic expression while protecting the vulnerable,

Bonnici explained that the legal reforms -- that were in draft stage and would soon be presented in Parliament -- will include the complete removal of articles 163 and 164 of the Criminal Code. This will mean decriminalising the vilification of the Roman Catholic Apostolic religion and other religions.

The two articles made it illegal to vilify religion by words, gestures, written matter, whether printed or not, or pictures or by some other visible means.)

 

  Iceland est Charlie...

Buccaneering Pirate Party commendably gets blasphemy law repealed in Iceland


Link Here 3rd July 2015
Pirate Party Less than a week after Iceland's prime minister contended that his nation's fundamental values would be at risk should the insurgent Pirate Party ever come to power, the group has celebrated its first legislative success, the decriminalization of blasphemy.

Birgitta Jonsdottir , one of three Pirates in the Althing, Iceland's Parliament, was among party activists celebrating the vote in favor of their bill to repeal the prohibition on impious irreverence, which had been in force since 1940.

The measure to repeal the law , which made ridiculing or insulting the dogmas or worship of a lawfully existing religious community an offense punishable by a fine or up to three months in jail, was introduced in January , in the wake of the murderous attack in Paris on Charlie Hebdo.

While the vote was underway in the Althing, The Iceland Monitor reported , all three of the party's members took the floor to say, I am Charlie. After the bill was made law, the party said in a statement , The Icelandic Parliament has issued the important message that freedom will not bow to bloody attacks.

 

 Update: Propagating Extremist Ideology...

Egyptian TV presenter jailed for 5 years after his programme offends some religious people


Link Here 18th June 2015  full story: Blasphemy in Egypt...Unswaying belief in injustice

Egypt flagEgyptian TV presenter Islam al-Beheiry has been sentenced to five years in prison with labour for contempt of religion. al-Beheiry presented With Islam , a religious talk show that debated such topics as punishment for apostasy, early marriage and the teachings of the religious character Muhammad.

Al-Azhar, Sunni Islam's foremost religious institution, filed accusations against Beheiry that included propagating extremist ideology, insulting Islamic scholars, attempting to destabilize national peace and broadcasting ideas that affect the fundamentals of religion .

On 30 May, an Egyptian misdemeanours court sentenced al-Beheiry in absentia to five years in jail with labour for contempt of religion .

 

 Updated: The Power of Tits...

Re stripping tourists offending Malaysia's mountain gods


Link Here 15th June 2015

malayisan mountain stripA fine kettle of fish! The women hadn't even undressed completely, and the only pic I've seen has the men strategically placing their hands like a rugby team in a "nude" charity calendar.

Two points about this. One is the schtick about the "sacredness" of the mountain, and comparisons with hypothetical similar behaviour at a Christian site. See this picture:

publicnudityfun No sign of Italian ministers claiming that the tits have made Vesuvius and Etna go pop! (Note the canopy by the way: they seem to be getting ready for a papal ceremony.)

The other, more important point is that much of the world's press has been royally trolled. Emil Kaminski has managed to fool a lot of news outlets, including the Daily Mirror and Daily Telegraph, into believing that:

1) he was part of the group, and probably the instigator;

2) he was arrested. In fact he was certainly NOT present, NOT arrested and probably NOT in Malaysia. See his YouTube video .

Can we rely on anything we read in the papers when seasoned journalists fail to smell a rat when Kaminski praises the wi-fi in Malaysian prison cells? Kaminski's certainly shown up a lot of people as idiots, though I think he should have waited until the young people were safely out of Malaysia.

Update: The plot thickens

14th June 2015. Thanks to Alan

mountain godThe press seems to be belatedly waking up to having been taken for a ride. The Telegraph pulled its story, leaving a blank web page, to the delight of Kaminski. Also possibly noteworthy is that no press outlet seems to have picked up the apparent backing by Richard Dawkins - in a Facebook comment. I rather doubt that Prof. Dawkins was the real author.

Another nice little turn-up for the books is that the Sabah minister who was assiduously spouting bollox about the tits and bums having pissed off the mountain fairies doesn't - I hope! - actually believe this twaddle. His first name is Joseph, and, as you would guess, he's a Christian: to be precise a Catholic. Kaminski is too kind in calling him a fucking idiot . When the heathen in his blindness bows down to wood and stone - in this case, a stonking great mountain - I thought the duty of a Christian was to enlighten him. Instead this guy encourages him to form a lynch mob and go after kids on a gap year.

Update: Floods of ludicrous blame claims

15th June 2015. Thanks to Alan

ilia ii of georgiaAnother bizarre case of blame for a natural disaster in today's papers. The Patriarch of All Georgia has blamed the flood which released all the animals in Tbilisi zoo on the use of money raised by melting down bells and crosses to built it in 1928. If you get squashed by a hippo or become a tasty snack for a stray lion, blame it on Uncle Joe Stalin.

At least, Ilia II has the right to spout garbage, as the head man of Georgian Orthodoxy, and I don't doubt that he sincerely believes it. No such excuse for the Christian minister in Sabah calling up a lynch mob on behalf of a religion in which he doesn't believe.

A bit puzzled by Eleanor Hawkins' statement. I don't blame her for eating a generous serving of shit to get out of Malaysia, but I can't understand why she goes back for seconds once she's safely home in Derbyshire.

 

 Commented: Chief Religious Censor...

Tony Blair appointed to top role in organisation campaigning for a new Europe-wide blasphemy law disguised behind Orwellian doublespeak about tolerance


Link Here 7th June 2015  full story: European Council on Tolerance and Reconciliation...Orewellian organisation campaigns for a new EU-wide blasphemy law
european council on tolerance and reconciliation logoThe misleadingly named European Council on Tolerance and Reconciliation (ECTR) is a campaign group backed by European Jewish leaders, and a gaggle of former EU heads of state and government. It calls for pan-European legislation outlawing antisemitism and criticism of religion, coining a phrase, 'group libel' to mirror the muslim phrase 'defamation of religion'.

The group recently published a document proposing to outlaw antisemitism as well as criminalising a host of other activities of what the group deems to be violating fundamental rights on religious, cultural, ethnic and gender grounds. The group cleverly heads the list with some justifiable prohibitions, female genital mutilation, forced marriage, polygamy, but then slip in extensive censorship and blasphemy items, eg criminalising xenophobia, and creating a new crime of group libel , ie public defamation of ethnic, cultural or religious groups.

The proposed legislation would also curb freedom of expression on grounds of a bizarre definition of 'tolerance'. The document twists the meaning of tolerance to try and justify the end to the right of freedom of expression:

Tolerance is a two-way street. Members of a group who wish to benefit from tolerance must show it to society at large, as well as to members of other groups and to dissidents or other members of their own group.

There is no need to be tolerant to the intolerant. This is especially important as far as freedom of expression is concerned: that freedom must not be abused to defame other groups.

But the document goes much further, calling for the criminalisation of overt approval of a totalitarian ideology, xenophobia or antisemitism.

The group has now appointed Tony Blair as chairman.

Comment: Tony Blair's plans to tackle extremism will stifle free speech

See article from indexoncensorship.org

index logo Index on Censorship considers Tony Blair's proposals on hate speech to be dangerous and divisive. Blair has defended plans to lower the the barriers on what constitutes incitement to violence and make Holocaust denial illegal. Jodie Ginsberg, CEO of Index on Censorship said:

These suggestions,  far from protecting people, are likely to have the opposite effect, driving extremist views underground where they can fester and grow Instead, we should be protecting free expression, including speech that may be considered offensive or hateful, in order to expose and challenge those views.

Individuals should always be protected from incitement to violence and that protection already exists in law, as do stringent laws on hate speech. Further legislation is not needed.

Comment: NSS criticises Tony Blair's plans to entrench religion in public life across Europe

See  article from  secularism.org.uk

National Secular Society logo The National Secular Society (NSS) has criticised Blair ahead of his appointment as chair of the ECTR as ill thought out and counter-productive .

The former Prime Minister has defended proposals lowering the barriers to what constitutes incitement to violence and pan-European plans to make Holocaust denial illegal and to entrench state funding for religious institutions into law.

The NSS is adamant that measures such as 'group libel' would be counter-productive, have a massive chilling effect on free speech and would be likely to restrict the open debate necessary to resolve problems.

Keith Porteous Wood, NSS executive director, said:

Britain already has draconian legislation on religious insults -- a possible seven year jail term with a low prosecution threshold. Politicians have already called for the outlawing of Islamophobia, playing into the hands of those intent on closing down honest debate about and within Islam.

There is no need for more laws, and the ones we already have fail to adequately protect freedom of expression. A robust civil society with a deep commitment to free expression is our best hope for challenging and countering bigoted narratives and misguided views. Driving extremist views underground will only allow them to fester and allow their proponents to present themselves as martyrs.

Outlawing Holocaust denial completely undermines the West's defence of freedom of speech at home and abroad and removes our moral authority to propound freedom of expression abroad. No one has the right in a plural society not to be offended and ideas should not be proscribed but people should be defended from incitement to violence.

A European-wide Holocaust denial law would be exhibit A in every response from dictators abroad - and Islamists at home - when we criticise their appalling human rights records or challenge their rhetoric and beliefs.

The NSS has also accused Blair of being confused over the role of religion .

For Mr Blair to dismiss those intent on justifying violence in the name of religion as abusing religion and using it as a mask reveals that his enthusiasm for religion has once more led him to misunderstand one of the roots of this problem. While few would suggest that extremists' interpretations of their faith are mainstream in today's society, it is naive and counterproductive to deny the role that such interpretations play in their religio-political motivations.

Comment: BBC to be forced to report the news under a narrow set of acceptable values .

See  article from  ukip.org

UKIP logoTony Blair's new role as chairman of the European Council on Tolerance and Reconciliation (ECTR) is in fact supporting an organisation that is a danger to free speech. Paul Nuttall, UKIP Deputy Leader and MEP for the North West, said the ECTR wants public broadcasting companies like the BBC to be forced under legal statute to report the news under a narrow set of acceptable values . He explained:

Tony Blair is joining an organisation that explicitly wants to see legislative control of news output.

The ECTR sent a framework statute to members of the European Parliament with the intention of it becoming law that frankly caused great concern. It included dictatorial powers to demand that 'public broadcasting (television and radio) stations will devote a prescribed percentage of their programmes to promoting a climate of tolerance'. It also called for private and public media to be controlled by a Media Complaints Commission driven by a narrow set of acceptable values.

The ECTR also called for certain new 'thought' crimes to be regarded as aggravated criminal offences, such as the 'overt approval of a totalitarian ideology, xenophobia'. This is very dangerous stuff and is utterly against the great tradition of free speech in this country. Do we really want our news reports to be dictated by a political organisation led by Blair?

Even worse is that Mr Blair's organisation also proposes re-education programmes, which brings to mind the 1930s. It proposes young people 'convicted of committing crimes listed will be required to undergo a rehabilitation programme designed to instil in them a culture of tolerance'. It's very worrying that in championing the ECTR, Mr Blair appears to want to enforce an Orwellian-style 'Ministry of Information' regime upon the population without taking it to the ballot box.

Offsite Comment: Tony Blair has just joined the crew of reckless muzzlers

7th June  2015. See  article from  theguardian.com by Nick Cohen

The GuardianMoves by Blair, Cameron and co to end tolerance of intolerance will create a country unable to be honest with itself.

 

 Update: Dangerous Disbeliefs...

Third atheist blogger murdered in Bangladesh


Link Here 14th May 2015  full story: Blasphemy in Bangladesh...Penalising disbelief
Bangladesh flagAn atheist blogger has been hacked to death in north-eastern Bangladesh by religious intolerants, the third such deadly murderous this year. Police told AFP:

Attackers wearing masks hacked Ananta Bijoy Das with machetes in Sylhet city at around 8.30 this morning. We have learned that he was a writer

Imran Sarker, head of a Bangladeshi bloggers' association, told AFP Das was an atheist who wrote blogs for Mukto-Mona, a website formerly moderated by Avijit Roy, a Bangladeshi-born US citizen who was stabbed to death in the capital, Dhaka, in February.

Das's friend, Debasish Debu, said, referring to an alleged hitlist of atheist bloggers prepared by muslim intolerants:

In recent months he received threats from extremists for his writings. He was on their hitlist,

 

  A Twisted Definition of Tolerance...

Jewish leaders in a disgraceful call for censorship and a European blasphemy law, subtly hiding it behind a ban on reprehensible cultural practices


Link Here 28th January 2015  full story: European Council on Tolerance and Reconciliation...Orewellian organisation campaigns for a new EU-wide blasphemy law
european council on tolerance and reconciliation logoEuropean Jewish leaders, backed by  former EU heads of state and government, are calling for pan-European legislation outlawing antisemitism and criticism of religion.

A panel of four international jewish leaders backed by the misleadingly named European Council on Tolerance and Reconciliation (ECTR) have spent three years drafting a 12-page document on 'tolerance' . They are lobbying to have it converted into law in the 28 countries of the EU.

The proposal would outlaw antisemitism as well as criminalising a host of other activities of what the group deems to be violating fundamental rights on religious, cultural, ethnic and gender grounds.

The group head the list with some justifiable prohibitions, female genital mutilation, forced marriage, polygamy, but then slip in extensive censorship and blasphemy items, eg criminalising xenophobia, and creating a new crime of group libel , ie public defamation of ethnic, cultural or religious groups. Then to try and generate a little support, the group extends the list to include women's and gay rights.

The proposed legislation would also curb freedom of expression on grounds of a bizarre definition of 'tolerance'. The document twists the meaning of tolerance to try and justify the end to the right of freedom of expression:

Tolerance is a two-way street. Members of a group who wish to benefit from tolerance must show it to society at large, as well as to members of other groups and to dissidents or other members of their own group.

There is no need to be tolerant to the intolerant. This is especially important as far as freedom of expression is concerned: that freedom must not be abused to defame other groups.

But the document goes much further, calling for the criminalisation of overt approval of a totalitarian ideology, xenophobia or antisemitism.

Education in tolerance should be mandatory from primary school to university, and for the military and the police, while public broadcasting must devote a prescribed percentage of their programmes to promoting a climate of 'tolerance' .

The panel was chaired by Yoram Dinstein, a war crimes expert, professor and former president of Tel Aviv university.

The drafters are currently touring the parliaments of Europe trying to drum up support.

 

 Update: Quality Nonsense...

Rajan Zed professionally offended by ginger beer label


Link Here 27th January 2015  full story: Rajan Zed...Taking easy offence at hindu imagery
brookvale union ginger beerA religious activist group says it plans to complain to Australia's advertising watchdog about a brewer that is using images of Hindu gods on its ginger beer bottle labels.

Aussie firm Brookvale Union, which uses the slogan Quality nonsense , apologised to Hindus offended by the labelling after receiving complaints in 2013, but the Universal Society of Hinduism has issued a new public complaint that the offending bottles are still on sale.

The bottles, which feature Hindu deities Ganesh and Lakshmi, carry the slogan Spicy yet mild, dry but wet, smooth yet sharp, tight but loose .

The group also says that the company has not removed the supposedly objectionable images from its website, which it had said it would when the issue was first raised two years ago.

The Universal Society of Hinduism's president Rajan Zed called on Brookvale Union to recall all the soft drink bottles carrying the images from the market, and show some responsibility, respect and maturity and understand the hurt feelings of Hindu community by saying sorry again. The free speech hating Zed spouted:

Hindus are for free expression and speech as much as anybody else if not more ...BUT... faith was something sacred and attempts at trivializing it tormented the devotees.

Inappropriate usage of Hindu deities or concepts or symbols for commercial or other agenda is not okay as it hurts the devotees. Lord Ganesh and Goddess Lakshmi are highly revered in Hinduism and they are meant to be worshipped in temples or home shrines and not to be used in selling beer for mercantile greed.

 

 Updated: Supporting Violent Censorship...

International events to support the censorship of Charlie hebdo


Link Here 25th January 2015  full story: Charlie Hebdo...Censored by terrorists

Niger flagNiger 

18th January 2015. See  article from  theguardian.com

At least five people died when rioters burned churches and cars and attacked French-linked businesses across Niger on Saturday, in violent protests against the publication of a cartoon of Muhammad on the cover of Charlie Hebdo magazine.

President Mahamadou Issoufou said all five of the dead were civilians, with four of them killed inside burned churches or bars.

Ten people have died in two days of violence across the west African nation. Five died and 45 were injured in clashes on Friday in Niger's second largest city, Zinder, where a French cultural centre and cafe were also hit.

mardom-e-emrooz george clooneyIran

18th January 2015. See  article from  dailymail.co.uk

An Iranian newspaper has been shut down after the country's authorities accused its front page headline of supporting the Charlie Hebdo magazine.

The article's headline quoted Hollywood actor, George Clooney, saying: I am Charlie Hebdo.

But the accompanying article did not actually express support for Clooney's statement, nor for the magazine itself.

The editor of Mardom-e-Emrooz - or Today's People - confirmed his paper was ordered to close for publishing the story.

Clooney was one of many actors to arrive at the Golden Globe awards to wear Je Suis Charlie pins.

France flagFrance

18th January 2015. See  article from  bbc.co.uk

Numerous French media websites have been momentarily taken down by hackers.

The sites of Le Parisien, Marianne and 20 Minutes were among those affected, although most were soon restored. The French government said some 20,000 sites had been targeted.

On Thursday, the head of cyber security for the French military, Vice Admiral Arnaud Coustilliere, said that structured groups and well known Islamist hackers were behind the attacks against the 20,000 sites, but did not elaborate.

cumhuriyetTurkey

18th January 2015. See  article from  ft.com

Turkey's prime minister has accused Turkish newspapers of sedition for publishing a controversial cartoon of Mohammed.

Ahmet Davutoglu made his comments a day after Cumhuriyet, a secularist newspaper, republished the cartoon and other extracts from Charlie Hebdo. Davutoglu  said:

The freedom of the press does not mean the freedom to insult, above all if this is against our Prophet. Printing the cartoon is heavy sedition.

Later in the day Turkish prosecutors opened an investigation into Cumhuriyet's publishing excerpts from Charlie Hebdo, in response to complaints that the paper had incited hatred.

Russia flagUpdate: Russia

19th January 2015. See  article from  uk.reuters.com

Russian Muslims rally against depiction's of Mohammad. Authorities say some 15 to 20 thousand people gathered at the rally in the city of Mahgas in the North Caucasus. The rally concluded peacefully but nevertheless it was still an implcit show of support for murderers.

 

Update: Australia

25th January 2015. See  article from  independent.co.uk and  article from  theguardian.com

Australia flagAbout 800 muslims rallied in Sydney to protest against the justifiably negative media coverage of Islam and French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo's depictions of Mohammed.

Police said 14 people were told to move on from the rally for breaching the peace. But no one was charged and the event was calm with a huge group of demonstrators praying on the street.

Some of the 800-strong demonstrators in the Lakemba suburb -- which has a large population of Lebanese Australians -- held up placards with the slogan Je suis Muslim. Other protesters held up signs saying insult to one prophet is an insult to all prophets.

Earlier Australia's prime minister, Tony Abbott, had told the protestors to lighten up . Abbott said on radio that  he hoped there would be only a few protesters:

Frankly I don't think any of us really want to be in the business of insulting anyone, but on the other hand we all believe in free speech, and I have to say some people are a bit thin-skinned about free speech.

I just hope the organisers of this protest lighten up a bit, and accept that in our robust democracy, a lot of people say a lot of things, and sometimes it's right, sometimes it's wrong, and we just have to accept the rough and the smooth together.

Update: Palestine and Senegal

25th January 2015.

'Thousands' of Palestinians rallied in the occupied West Bankto protest against the publication of cartoons depicting Mohammad. Simultaneous demonstrations were held in the cities of Ramallah and Hebron.

Around 1,500 people including the prime minister marchedin Senegal against caricatures of Mohammed. Premier Mohammed Dionne was joined at the demonstration in Dakar by cabinet colleagues, civil society activists, lawmakers, religious leaders and hundreds of members of the public. I'm not Charlie -- I am a Muslim , Freedom of expression is not the freedom to insult , Do not touch my prophet read placards brandished by demonstrators.

Update: Censored whilst claiming to be uncensored

28th January 2015.  See  article from  dailymail.co.uk

Pakistan flagTens of thousands of Muslims took to the streets in Pakistan in anger at the Mohammed cartoons published by French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo.

The largest rally was held in Karachi, where 25,000 people shouted slogans including death to France , death to the blasphemers and (We are) ready to sacrifice life for Prophet Mohammed .

Speaking at the Karachi protest, the chief of Jamaat-e-Islami, Pakistan's main Islamic Party, demanded Pakistan call a meeting of the Organization of the Islamic Conference, a group of Muslim countries. He urged the United Nations to curb the menace of blasphemy through changes to international law.

 

 Update: N'est pas Charlie...

Hateful and violent protests held around the world


Link Here 17th January 2015  full story: Charlie Hebdo...Censored by terrorists

hebdo protestsFrench President Francois Hollande has affirmed the French right to free speech, saying that anti-Charlie Hebdo protesters in other countries do not understand France's attachment to freedom of speech.

His remarks come a day after throngs of Muslims around the world held protests against the depiction of Muhammad by the French satirical weekly magazine Charlie Hebdo, with some of the demonstrations inevitably turning violent.

In Niger, at least four people were killed in the southern town of Zinder, where protesters set fire to a French cultural center and several churches and attacked Christian shops with clubs and Molotov cocktails, while police responded with tear gas. Three civilians died, including two who were shot by police during an attack on their station. A police officer was run over and killed, while 45 other people were injured. It was reported that the chanting mob threatened in local Hausa language:

Charlie is Satan, let hell engulf those supporting Charlie.

Violent demonstrations also occurred in Karachi, Pakistan, where several hundred protesters clashed with police. A photographer with the French news agency AFP was reported to be among three people wounded. Around 300 people from a little known Pakistani religious group rallied, carrying placards that read Down with Charlie Hebdo and a banner demanding that those drawing the caricatures be hanged. Protests also took place in other major Pakistani cities, including Islamabad and Lahore.

A Charlie Hebdo poster was burned in the Philippines on Monday as 1,500 people staged a protest march against themagazine.

In Algiers, Algeria, police clashed with demonstrators who threw rocks and bottles around the waterfront area of the capital. Hundreds of people had earlier marched peacefully through the capital, waving placards saying: I am Muhammad. In Sudan, protesters took to the streets of Khartoum to protest against France and Charlie Hebdo. Some carried large banners bearing such slogans as Death for French and Charlie Hebdo offends the Prophet.

Largely peaceful marches took place in the capitals of West African countries Mali, Senegal and Mauritania.

In Amman, Jordanians gathered to protest against satirical French cartoons, after Friday prayers. In Yemen, protesters gathered Saturday in front of the French Embassy in Sanaa, chanting slogans.

And in the UK a protest will be held in Bradford on Saturday evening. Bradford West MP George Galloway is scheduled to be among the speakers at the event.

 

 Update: The Pope Ain't Charlie...

The Pope seems argues that a punch is in order for those that insult religion


Link Here 16th January 2015  full story: Charlie Hebdo...Censored by terrorists
Sermon on the mount

  ...Turn the other cheek...

...unless of course he insults your religion, then thump him
 

Pope Francis as said there are limits to freedom of expression, warning that anyone who hurls insults should expect retaliation. The Pope's provocative statement was in reference to last week's terror attack on the French magazine Charlie Hebdo. He threatened:

One cannot provoke, one cannot insult other people's faith, one cannot make fun of faith. There is a limit. Every religion has its dignity ... in freedom of expression, there are limits.

If my good friend Dr. Gasparri says a curse word against my mother, he can expect a punch. It's normal. You cannot provoke. You cannot insult the faith of others. You cannot make fun of the faith of others.

However he got into a bit of moral tangle by adding

Each person not only has the freedom but also the obligation to say what he thinks in the name of the common good.

But what happens if he criticises religion in the name of the common good, and that the religion considers this criticism to be an insult. Then it seems that a punch is in order.

However the pope draws the line at a punch. He added:

No one can kill in the name of God. This is an aberration.

 

 Update: More Spiritual Grief...

Indian film censors look set to ban MSG after pressure from religious groups and the government


Link Here 15th January 2015  full story: Banned Movies in India...Sex, religion and easy offence
msgMSG: The Messenger of God is a 2015 India action comedy drama by Jeetu Arora and Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh Ji Insan.
Starring Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh Ji Insan, Daniel Kaleb and Fllora Saini. Youtube link BBFC link IMDb

India's film censor board has refused to clear MSG: The Messenger of God featuring self-styled guru Ram Rahim Singh.

The Censor Board (CBFC) has decided to refer the decision to the Film Certification Apellate Tribunal (FCAT). Officials said a review committee of the Board took the decision unanimously. CBFC chairperson Leela Samson told PTI:

It has been unanimously decided to refer the film to the tribunal FCAT.

Whilst waiting for the results of the appeal the movie will miss its opening date previously set for 16th January 2015.

In the movie, Ram Rahim Singh depicts himself as a god. The censors apparently have objections to Ram Rahim being shown to be performing miracles and curing terminal diseases.

Singh is head of a spiritual orginsation called Dera Sacha Sauda (DSS). He said he was not averse to cutting some scenes if the censor board objected to them. He claimed that:

The only aim of the film is to spread messages against social evils like drug addiction, female foeticide. There is nothing wrong in it. If the board finds any portion of the film objectionable, I will happily get them removed.

I have not showed myself as God but as a human. I have not criticised any religion in the film.

The Home Ministry had sent an advisory to states where the movie is set to play which said:

Various Sikh organisations and individuals are opposing the movie on the ground that its release would disturb the communal harmony and law and order. They also opine that glorification of DSS chief, facing serious criminal cases, should not be allowed.

Meanwhile in the UK, the BBFC have passed the film 12A uncut for moderate violence, sex references, drug use, for its upcoming cinema release.

 

 Update: Turkey Ain't Charlie...

Turkish court orders ISPs to block websites with Charlie Hebdo special edition cover


Link Here 15th January 2015  full story: Charlie Hebdo...Censored by terrorists
Turkey flagA Turkish court has ordered the telecommunications censor to ban access to websites showing Charlie Hebdo's front cover with the image of the religious character Muhammad, a state-run news agency said.

The Anadolu Agency said the ban, which would block access to the websites in Turkey, was ordered by a court in the southeastern city of Diyarbakir, according to the Dogan news agency. The decision came from the court, because a lawyer in Diyarbakir filed a petition saying the websites were a danger to public order.

 

 Update: France Est Charlie...

Charlie Hebdo to publish a special survivors edition next week with state support


Link Here 10th January 2015  full story: Charlie Hebdo...Censored by terrorists
charlie hebdo le journal des survivantsCharlie Hebdo plans to publish a journal des survivants next week, as pledges of money and other forms of support continue to pour in from media organisations in France and elsewhere.

About 20 surviving Charlie Hebdo staff gathered at the offices of French newspaper Liberation, for their first editorial meeting since the terrorist attack on its Paris headquarters in which 12 people, including eight of the title's journalists and two policemen, were killed.

Those at the table included the cartoonist Luz, who escaped the carnage because he was late on Wednesday, reporter Laurent Leger, columnist Patrick Pelloux and the paper's lawyer, Richard Malka.

The journalists asked for their privacy to be respected while they work on next Wednesday's special survival edition, which will be limited to eight pages instead of the usual 16. A million copies are to be printed, a huge increase on its usual 60,000 print run.

The Liberation building, located close to the Charlie Hebdo premises, is now under armed police guard. Visitors are only allowed in with a specific invitation from a staff member and have to leave via the adjacent car park.

Prime minister, Manuel Valls and culture minister, Fleur Pellerin have promised 1 million euro to the paper to guarantee its survival. The Guardian Media Group has pledged £100,000, while more funding has come from the TV station Canal+ and Le Monde which has supplied the computers.

Asked about the irony of the French state propping up the deliberately provocative Charlie Hebdo, one Liberation staff member said: It's normal. This is a democracy.

 

 Update: Stand up for free speech...

Publish Charlie Hebdo's cartoons


Link Here 9th January 2015  full story: Charlie Hebdo...Censored by terrorists

we must censor hebdoIndex on Censorship, the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, freeDimensional, PEN America, FreeWord, Reporters Without Borders, Article 19 and English PEN call on all those who believe in the fundamental right to freedom of expression to join in publishing the cartoons or covers of Charlie Hebdo on January 8 at 1400 GMT.

We believe that only through solidarity, in showing that we truly defend all those who exercise their right to speak freely, can we defeat those who would use violence to silence free speech. We ask media organisations, individuals and everyone who supports free speech to join together in this action.

Each publication will select a cartoon, a range of cartoons, or covers that they believe best reflect the right to free expression and publish at the same time globally. The idea is a moment of unity in which we show that together we stand up for journalism and the right to free speech, no matter what, and to show our support and respect for those killed on January 7.

Jodie Ginsberg, CEO of Index on Censorship said:

The ability to express ourselves freely is fundamental to a free society. This includes the freedom to publish, to satirise, to joke, to criticise, even when that might cause offence to others. Those who wish to silence free speech must never be allowed to prevail.

Suzanne Nossel, Executive Director, PEN American Center said:

Satire is both a privilege and a necessity in a free society. The freedom to question, to expose, to mock ultimately makes institutions, belief systems, and leaders stronger. The resort to murderous vengeance for the crime of drawing and publishing cartoons represents a terrifying perversion of religious values and an assault on our shared values. No matter how offensive, speech is never a justification for violence.

charlie hebdo decapitatedComic Book Legal Defense Fund Executive Director Charles Brownstein said:

The attack on the Charlie Hebdo offices is tragic, but it is also proof of just how powerful cartoons and cartoonists can be. Despite threats and prior attacks, the publishers, editors, and cartoonists of Charlie Hedbo never relented in using satire to question the world around them. CBLDF stands with Charlie Hebdo and their dedication to free expression.

Lucie Morillon, Programme Director, Reporters Without Borders said:

This unspeakable act of violence has challenged and assailed the entire press Journalism as whole is in mourning. In the name of all those who have fallen in the defence of these fundamental values, we must continue Charlie Hebdo's fight for the right to freedom of information.

Jo Glanville, Director of English PEN, said:

This is a time for all writers, publishers, editors, artists and free speech groups to stand in solidarity. In the face in one of the most devastating attacks on press freedom and freedom of expression in Europe's recent history, we need to reaffirm our commitment to speaking out and standing up for free speech. This action today is the first step.

Supporters of the call

Some of the publications and organisations joining us at this hour include:

  • The Guardian
  • New Statesman
  • Mail and Guardian
  • Folha de San Paulo
  • City Press
  • Comic Book Legal Defense Fund
  • Pen America
  • Article 19
  • English Pen
  • Reporters Without Borders
  • Conway Hall
  • Atheist NI
  • The Art Newspaper
  • New Humanist
  • Stephen Fry
  • Los Angeles Times

And some were understandably reticent

See  article from  theguardian.com

Publishing Muhammad cartoons would have been too risky, says Amol Rajan Editor of Independent newspaper said he had to balance principle with pragmatism, despite wanting to publish Charlie Hebdo cartoons on the front page

After the Charlie Hebdo Massacre, Support those Fighting the Religious-Right

See statement from freethoughtblogs.com

free thought blogs logo The persistent demand for the extension of blasphemy laws around the world is a real danger for all. France has a long, and now growingly endangered,  tradition of secularism; which allows dissent from religions and the right to express this dissent. It has had a rich tradition to mock and caricature powers that be,  religious or otherwise. Let us keep this hard won right which cost so many lives in history, and, alas, still does, as Charlie Hebdo's twelve dead and numerous wounded demonstrate.

...Read the full statement

Sharia law, apostasy and secularism conference

Paying tribute to Charlie Hebdo and the many persecuted for criticising islam and religion

See details from ex-muslim.org.uk

7th February 2015, One day conference near London Kings Cross 9am registration; 10am-5:30pm

 Speakers at the 7 February conference will include Activist Ahmed Idris, Campaigner for Secular Education Aliyah Saleem, Spokesperson of the Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain Amal Farah, Activist Atoosa Khatiri, Secular Activist Chris Moos, Director of the Centre for Secular Space Gita Sahgal, Founder of the Council of Ex-Muslims of Morocco Imad Iddine Habib, Spokesperson of One Law for All Maryam Namazie, Spokesperson of the Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain Nahla Mahmoud, Human Rights Campaigner Peter Tatchell, Southall Black Sisters Director Pragna Patel, Founder of Ex-Muslims of Scotland Ramin Forghani, Nari Diganta's Rumana Hashem, National Secular Society President Terry Sanderson and Women's Rights Campaigner Yasmin Rehman.

And on a lighter note...

See some  fine words and fine cartoons from washingtonpost.com

banksy on hebdoCharlie Hebdo: In their words and works, American cartoonists condemn Wednesday's attack, hail slain satirists as heroes

And on a not so light note: Religion deserves fearless disrespect'

See  article from  freethinker.co.uk

Author Salman Rushdie yesterday made a statement about the attack on the Paris office of Charlie Hebdo that left 12 people dead. He said:

Religion, a medieval form of unreason, when combined with modern weaponry, becomes a real threat to our freedoms.

This religious totalitarianism has caused a deadly mutation in the heart of Islam and we see the tragic consequences in Paris today.

I stand with Charlie Hebdo, as we all must, to defend the art of satire, which has always been a force for liberty and against tyranny, dishonesty and stupidity.

"Respect for religion'" has become a code phrase meaning "fear of religion".

Religions, like all other ideas, deserve criticism, satire, and, yes, our fearless disrespect.

 

 Update: Je suis Charlie!...

The cry of defiance: Vast crowds rally across the world to condemn the censorship massacre


Link Here 8th January 2015  full story: Charlie Hebdo...Censored by terrorists
je suis charlieTens of thousands took to the streets in Europe to show their solidarity with those killed by gunmen at the offices of satirical French weekly Charlie Hebdo.

The scenes were replicated across France, in London and around the world with crowds holding placards bearing the slogan Je Suis Charlie. Others were seen carrying enlarged versions of the some of the newspaper's anti-Islamist cartoons.

Meanwhile the website of French newspaper Le Monde last night showed an interactive map of vigils being held across the world in Dublin, Edinburgh, Amsterdam, Brussels, Madrid, Rome, Berlin, Vienna, Moscow, and as far afield as Tunis, Lima, Rio de Janeiro and Madagascar.

In London, hundreds of people filled Trafalgar Square at a silent vigil for those killed when masked gunmen stormed the newspaper's headquarters. Many held pens, pencils and notebooks in the air to show their support for the journalists, cartoonists and police officers who lost their lives.

The Heart is in defying censorship, but the mind says otherwise

Whilst there is a spirit of defying censorship, practicality, and fear of being killed, has rather dictated that self censorship has increased across the world.

The HuffingtonPost post reports :

Following a deadly terror attack Wednesday morning on the offices of Charlie Hebdo , a satirical French newspaper known for lampooning religion with caricature-based cartoons, many outlets have censored their coverage of the publication's depictions of the Prophet Muhammad.

The New York Daily News opted to obscure the front page of a Charlie Hebdo publication in its coverage of the attack. It blurred a cartoon from a 2011 Getty photo of Charlie Hebdo Editor Stéphane "Charb" Charbonnier , who was among those killed in Wednesday's attack. The Daily News did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The Telegraph took a similar approach and blurred the cover of a Charlie Hebdo paper in its live blog, then ultimately removed the image entirely , reports Politico.

And a bizarre response from Associated Press, the agency censored images of Christ over some politically correction notion of fairness after censoring images of Mohammed. An article at Gawker.com explains:

Politico's Dylan Byers reports that the Associated Press removed an image of Andres Serrano's 1987 photo Piss Christ from its photo library in the wake of today's deadly attack on the French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo.

Removing images of the artwork seems preposterous. I searched AP's library for Piss Christ before this post went up found at least one photo of Serrano posing in front of his most well-known work , which depicts a crucifix submerged in the artist's own urine. But a few minutes later, it was gone. What gives?

In fact the AP pulled the photos after the conservative Washington Examiner noted that it pixelated Charlie Hebdo cartoons depicting Mohammad but left images of Piss Christ intact.

Nick Cohen writing in the Spectator suggests that defiance will probably be short lived, and it won't be long before free speech gets re-relegated back to its proper place below the right to not be 'offended'.

Tonight everyone is defiant. I am just back from a Je suis Charlie vigil in Trafalgar Square, and the solidarity was good to see. I fear it won't last. I may be wrong. Perhaps tomorrow's papers and news programmes will prove their commitment to freedom by republishing the Charlie Hebdo cartoons.

But I doubt they will even have the courage to admit that they are too scared to show them. Instead we will have insidious articles, which condemn freedom of speech as a provocation and make weasel excuses for murder without having the guts to admit it.

The Financial Times was first out of the blocks:

Charlie Hebdo is a bastion of the French tradition of hard-hitting satire. It has a long record of mocking, baiting and needling Muslims.

The writer forgot to add that Charlie Hebdo has a long record of mocking, baiting and needling everyone. It is a satirical magazine in a free country: that is what it does.

 

 Update: Ultimate Censorship...

Muslim terrorists murder editor and staff in an attack on a satirical French magazine that offended them


Link Here 7th January 2015  full story: Charlie Hebdo...Censored by terrorists

je suis charlieMuslim terrorists have shot dead 12 people at the Paris office of French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo .

Four of the magazine's well-known cartoonists, including its editor, were among those killed, as well as two police officers. A major police operation is under way to find three gunmen who fled by car.

President Francois Hollande said there was no doubt it had been a terrorist attack of exceptional barbarity .

The masked attackers opened fire with assault rifles in the office and exchanged shots with police in the street outside before escaping by car. They later abandoned the car in Rue de Meaux, northern Paris, where they hijacked a second car.

Witnesses said they heard the gunmen shouting We have avenged the Prophet Muhammad and God is Great in Arabic ( Allahu Akbar ).

French media have named the three other cartoonists killed in the attack as Cabu, Tignous and Wolinski, as well as Charlie Hebdo contributor and French economist Bernard Maris.

The satirical weekly has courted controversy in the past with its irreverent take on news and current affairs. It was firebombed in November 2011 a day after it carried a caricature of the religious character Muhammad.