Tag Archives: Free Speech

Trump and Media Freedom: Is He Going Arab and Muslim?………

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“We get reaction from media scholar Robert McChesney to news that Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump is reportedly considering suing The New York Times after it ran a major report on his past treatment of women, and has vowed to make it easier to sue news organizations. Lawsuits are not the solution, McChesney says. “Instead, it is to broaden it, enrich it, create new voices and fund new voices so we actually have the diverse marketplace of ideas.………”

Democracy Now! headlines this as: Trump Vows to Sue New York Times in Latest Show of Disregard for Freedom of Press.

What is the fuss? This happens all the time in the Middle East, and not just in the Arab states or in the Gulf states. Governments, prosecutors, even foreign embassies now sue any journalist, politician, or just plain citizen for insulting some king, prince, or dictator.
Often on the Gulf, foreign Arab embassies pressure host governments to sue and prosecute their local critics. They mostly like to sue and arrest anyone who posts on social media, since they can’t completely own and control this type of media.

Just recently, Turkey‘s dour Islamist strongman Erdogan even managed to intimidate Germany to prosecute a German cartoonist who mocked him. In Germany! Instead of Turkey adapting to European standards of freedom of expression, the Germans were forced to adopt the Turkish standards.

Donald Trump is just being Arab-ized and Islam-ized.

Cheers
M Haider Ghuloum

A Dummy’s Haiku Guide to Free Speech in the Middle East: from Islamic to Nomadic to ……..

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Haiku:
About Free Speech…
Can it be free at a price?………..
Tell our leaders…….

So what is this “free speech” that many constitutions claim to allow but few actually do? Especially in the Middle East:

  • The Arab League considers free speech, to the extent that it considers anything seriously, as whatever each existing government in power wants it to be. Especially those regimes with deep pockets.
  • In Egypt, free speech is whatever does not criticize the president and insult the armed forces (apparently there is some difference), or mentions Mohammed Morsi without adding the term “deposed” as a prefix. Or anything that does not point out that Egypt (or even Cairo) are not, as the natives and a few Arabs claim, Mother of the World.
  • Al-Azhar sheikhs in Cairo define free speech as their interpretation of the  Holy Quran, the Hadith, and more importantly whatever the current president of the country says.
  • Less stable and more violent Arab countries have a more flexible definition of free speech. In Syria, Yemen, Libya, Iraq, free speech is more nomadic: it depends on which part of the country you are in (and on who you are). Which might be considered by some as an improvement over what it is in other Middle East countries.
  • In Somalia, Sudan, and Djibouti, also considered “Arab” countries, you ask anyone about free speech and he or she might respond: WTF is that?
  • Free Speech in the whole “Persian-American” Gulf region will be covered in the next post, right after this one.
  • Western powers consider free speech in the Middle East as whatever encourages the ruling avaricious oligarchs to spend more money on weapons of death and repression.
  • Ist das klar?

Cheers
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum
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The Farce of Selective Free Speech on Public Transport……..

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New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority has banned all political advertising on its subways and buses, allowing it to refuse to display an ad about Muslims killing Jews. The resolution passed Wednesday night at the MTA board meeting. The decision comes after a federal judge earlier this month ruled that an anti-Islamic ad which includes the statement “Killing Jews is Worship that draws us close to Allah,” is protected speech under the First Amendment and said it must be run on public transportation……….  U.S. District Judge John Koeltl on April 21 rejected the MTA argument in rejecting the ad that it could be seen as a call to violence against Jews and could incite terrorism. The ad is sponsored by the American Freedom Defense Initiative, which is headed by blogger Pamela Geller and is known for its sharp anti-Muslim rhetoric. The ad has run in other cities, including Chicago and San Francisco, without inciting violence……………

“A US appeals court ruled on Wednesday that Seattle-based King County officials did not violate free speech by prohibiting local buses from displaying anti-Israel advertisements. The ruling came in reference to a 2010 advertisement on a bus reading,”ISRAELI WAR CRIMES YOUR TAX DOLLARS AT WORK.” ………..”

A court rules that it is okay to advertise on public transport against Islam: it is free speech to put bigoted ads against Muslims. Another court rules that it is not okay to advertise on public transport against Israel: it is not free speech to have anti-Israeli advertisement on public transport.

So, whenever there is a proposed advertisement on a public transport that criticizes Israel, it is banned. It is not free speech. Yet anti-Islamic ads by islamophobic bigots are allowed by judges like this one in New York. They are free speech. Proposed anti-Israel (not anti-Semitic) ads on public transport in Seattle and other cities were banned in the past. So much for the farce of selective free speech.

Cheers
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum                    Follow ArabiaDeserta on Twitter
m.h.ghuloum@gmail.com

Jordan and UAE: Humorless Sisterly Blackmail and Crackdown on Free Speech……….

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“The Jordanian authorities have arrested a senior leader of the Muslim Brotherhood for criticizing the United Arab Emirates, the spokesman for the Brotherhood’s political wing said Friday………… Mr. Bani Rushaid accused the Emirates of sponsoring terrorism and questioned the legitimacy of its rulers…………”

Jordan is well known by now as not a very humorous country. The United Arab Emirates has been below the radar on this issue. Now the ruling brothers who own Abu Dhabi and rule the UAE have finally ‘come out’. They want their strange country not only to remain politically humorless, but they aspire to make it even less humorous, along the Jordanian model. Now that is understandable, since some 90% of the population are temporary imported foreign labor who probably don’t find much humor in their situation nor in dangerous local politics.

So the Jordanians have no doubt given in to some serious sisterly blackmail from the equally humorless potentates of the UAE. It would be costly not to give in, especially on the even of the next Gulf GCC summit.
Cheers
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

m.h.ghuloum@gmail.com

Iran Academic Escapes Death, Back to Prison………..


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“A well-known Iranian academic who had a death sentence overturned a decade ago has been convicted and sentenced to a year in jail for spreading propaganda against the government. No other details of pro-reform activist Hashem Aghajari’s offenses were mentioned in Iranian media reports of his conviction, published Sunday. Aghajari, a university professor, was convicted of apostasy and given a death sentence in 2003 for declaring Muslims were not “monkeys” who should “blindly follow” their religious leaders. That sentence was commuted to five years imprisonment in 2004, but he was eventually cleared of all charges………….”

Cheers
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

m.h.ghuloum@gmail.com