censorship

Pakistan to monitor Google, others for blasphemy

Muslims need to be protected from reality; we can’t have them learning about things that might make them turn away from their bullshit religion.

Pakistan to monitor Google, others for blasphemy

ISLAMABAD (Reuters) – Pakistani authorities on Friday put seven major websites, including Google and YouTube, under watch for containing material deemed offensive to Muslims, officials said.

The Ministry of Information Technology is also blocking at least 17 links on Youtube and other websites for showing “blasphemous material.”

“YouTube, Yahoo, Amazon, Bing, MSN, Hotmail and Google will be monitored with relation to anti-Islamic contents,” said Khurram Mehran, spokesman for the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority.

The companies that own the affected sites are Google Inc., Microsoft, Yahoo and Amazon.com Inc..

But another official also made it clear the government had no intention of blocking major websites as they were important sources of education.

The move to impose monitoring was undertaken three days after a court in the eastern city of Bahawalpur ordered the government to block YouTube and eight other sites in response to a petition arguing they were showing material “against the fundamental principles of Islam.

The next hearing of the case is fixed for Monday. It is second time in a month that Pakistan has imposed such restrictions on internet.

Last month, authorities acting on a court decision blocked social network Facebook, YouTube and others sites for almost two weeks amid anger over a page that encouraged users to post images of the Prophet Mohammad.

BLASPHEMY A SENSITIVE ISSUE

Any representation of the Prophet Mohammad is deemed un-Islamic and blasphemous by Muslims, who constitute the overwhelming majority in Pakistan.

Blasphemy is a very sensitive issue in Pakistan. Five people were killed in protests in 2006 over publication of cartoons deemed blasphemous by Muslims in Danish newspapers a year earlier.

However, Latif Khosa, adviser to the prime minister on information technology, said the government had already been monitoring websites for any material prejudicial to “security of Pakistan and Islamic injunctions.”

Khosa said the government could not block major search engines and websites as they were major sources of information and education.

“The constitution of Pakistan ensures access to knowledge, information and education to all citizens of Pakistan. These are the basic rights of the people of Pakistan and Internet is a major source of it,” Khosa told Reuters.

Courts cannot violate those rights nor can any law be put in place to do so, he said.

“Many students are calling us and saying that they could not complete their higher studies if any step is taken to block these search engines,” Khosa said.

Pakistani court orders Facebook blocked in prophet row

Pakistani court orders Facebook blocked in prophet row

A court in Pakistan has ordered the authorities temporarily to block the Facebook social networking site.

The order came when a petition was filed after the site held a competition featuring caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad.

The petition, filed by a lawyers’ group called the Islamic Lawyers’ Movement, said the contest was “blasphemous”.

A message on the competition’s information page said it was not “trying to slander the average Muslim”.

“We simply want to show the extremists that threaten to harm people because of their Muhammad depictions that we’re not afraid of them,” a statement on the “Everybody Draw Mohammed Day” said.

“They can’t take away our right to freedom of speech by trying to scare us into silence.”

The information section of the page said that it was set up by a Seattle-based cartoonist, Molly Norris.

It contains caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad and characters from other religions, including Hinduism and Christianity, as well as comments both critical and supportive of Islam.

‘Blasphemous’

Publications of similar cartoons in Danish newspapers in 2005 sparked angry protests in Muslim countries – five people were killed in Pakistan.

Already the Pakistani press has reported protests against Facebook on Wednesday by journalists outside parliament in Islamabad, while various Islamic parties are also reported to be organising demonstrations.

Correspondents say that the internet is uncensored in Pakistan but the government monitors content by routing all traffic through a central exchange.

Justice Ejaz Ahmed Chaudhry of the Lahore High Court ordered the department of communications to block the website until 31 May, and to submit a written reply to the petition by that date.

An official told the court that parts of the website that were holding the competition had been blocked, reports the BBC Urdu service’s Abdul Haq in Lahore.

But the petitioner said a partial blockade of a website was not possible and that the entire link had to be blocked.

The lawyers’ group says Pakistan is an Islamic country and its laws do not allow activities that are “un-Islamic” or “blasphemous”.

The judge also directed Pakistan’s foreign ministry to raise the issue at international level.

In the past, Pakistan has often blocked access to pornographic sites and sites with anti-Islamic content.

It has deemed such material as offensive to the political and security establishment of the country, says the BBC’s M Ilyas Khan in Islamabad.

In 2007, the government banned the YouTube site, allegedly to block material offensive to the government of Pervez Musharraf.

The action led to widespread disruption of access to the site for several hours. The ban was later lifted.

Scientologists try to block ‘intolerant’ German feature film

Scientologists try to block ‘intolerant’ German feature film

The following correction was printed in the Guardian’s Corrections and clarifications column, Monday 15 March 2010

Claus von Stauffenberg was shot for his failed attempt to assassinate Hitler and remove the Nazi party from power in 1944, not hanged as we say below.

Germany’s state broadcaster is locked in a row with the Church of Scientology which wants to block an upcoming feature film that depicts the controversial organisation as totalitarian and unethical

Bis Nichts Mehr Bleibt, or Until Nothing Remains, dramatises the account of a German family torn apart by its associations with Scientology. A young married couple joins the organisation but as the wife gets sucked ever more deeply into the group, her husband, who has donated much of his money to it, decides to leave. In the process he loses contact with his young daughter who, like his wife, is being educated by Scientology instructors.

Scientology leaders have accused Germany’s primary public TV network, ARD, of creating in top secret a piece of propaganda that sets out to undermine the group, and have demanded to see it before it is broadcast.

The 90-minute film reflects an unease in Germany about the organisation, which boasts several thousand members across the country and has its headquarters in central Berlin. The church is considered anti-constitutional by its critics.

Tension reached its peak during the making of Valkyrie, the 2008 film about the plot to assassinate Hitler, when opponents said Scientology leaders had engineered the placing of Tom Cruise, its most prominent member, in the role as Nazi resistance fighter Claus von Stauffenberg, in order to win German supporters. The organisation dismissed the claim.

The filming of Valkyrie sparked numerous clashes between the filmmakers and the government, which initially prevented them from filming on several historical sites, including the Bendler Block where Stauffenberg was hanged, due in part to Cruise’s association with Scientology. The ban was eventually lifted.

According to the makers of Until Nothing Remains, the €2.5m (£2.3 m) drama, which is due to air in a prime-time slot at the end of March, is based on the true story of Heiner von Rönns, who left Scientology and suffered the subsequent break-up of his family.

Scientology officials have said the film is false and intolerant. At a preview screening in Hamburg members distributed flyers in which the filmmakers were accused of seeking to “create a mood of intolerance and discrimination against a religious community”.

Jürg Stettler, a spokesman for Scientology in Germany said: “The truth is precisely the opposite of that which the ARD is showing.” The organisation is investigating legal means to prevent the programme from being broadcast.

Stettler said the organisation was planning its own film to “spread our own side of the story”.

ARD’s programme director Volker Herres has dismissed the accusations, saying the aim of the drama is to reveal the truth about the organisation.

“We’re not dealing here with a religion, rather with an organisation that has completely different motives,” he said. “Scientology is about power, business, and building up a network. Its lessons are pure science fiction, it’s no religion, no church, no sect.”

The film team said it had been “bombarded” with phone calls and emails from the organisation during production. The head of the Southwest German broadcasting organisation, Carl Bergengruen who was involved in the project, said Scientology had “tried via various means to discover details about the film” and that the film crew was even tailed by a Scientology representative.

“We are fearful that the organisation will try to use all legal means to try to stop the film being shown,” he said.

Thanks to JT Hundley for the link.

Ireland’s Bizarre War On Blasphemy

Ireland’s bizarre war on blasphemy

It does seem bizarre that, in 2009, a modern European nation would seek to shield religious belief from criticism – yet that is what is happening in Ireland right now. In repealing the 1961 Defamation Act, the Irish government sought to expunge the worst excesses of Ireland’s draconian laws restricting free speech, but in the process it has ended up making offending religious belief a criminal offence.

Aside from a €25,000 fine (reduced from the €100,000 originally sought by the government), the new Defamation Act gives the authorities the power to stage raids on publishers: the courts may now issue a warrant authorising the police to enter, using ‘reasonable force’, premises where they have grounds for believing there are copies of ‘blasphemous statements’.

Many are asking why on earth blasphemy should be criminalised, particularly at a time when the Catholic Church in Ireland is being investigated for widespread child abuse and its public image has hit rock bottom.

The government has responded to its critics by saying there is a constitutional requirement for a specific blasphemy law in Ireland. Indeed so: freedom of speech is guaranteed by Article 40.6.1 of the Irish constitution. However, it goes on to prohibit the publication of ‘blasphemous, seditious, or indecent matter’. One might call the Irish constitution a clear case of the left hand giving and the right hand taking away.

The fact that this has been the case since the constitution came into effect in 1937 seems to have blinded the government to its usual option: the traditional Irish response to divisive issues is to pretend that they don’t exist. It is not for nothing that Ireland’s acceptance of abortion for those with enough money to travel to Britain is called ‘an Irish solution to an Irish problem’.

Whatever the rights and wrongs of the constitution, only one case was ever taken under the blasphemy prohibition since the introduction of the constitution in 1937 (a 1999 case against a newspaper, in which the Supreme Court concluded that it was not possible to say ‘of what the offence of blasphemy consists’ and that ‘the state is not placed in the position of an arbiter of religious truth’). So, at the very least, it seems peculiar to bring the issue into the light of day in 2009.

It is true that the repeal of the 1961 Defamation Act and its replacement with (slightly) less outrageous legislation would leave a hole in the statute books if blasphemy were not outlawed. Yet the obvious answer is to amend the constitution, which, in Ireland, requires a popular referendum. Yet the minister behind the update to the defamation laws, Dermot Ahern, says that a referendum would be ‘costly and unwarranted’. The government is, however, perfectly happy to pay to send the country to the polls on the issue of the EU’s Lisbon Treaty for a second time. Presumably no cost is too high so long as the people make the decision the establishment wants.

Thanks to JT for the tip.

Email Time!

I just got some email!

from    sayed sayed <tagerweb@hotmail.com>
to    <ian@irreligion.org>
date    Fri, Nov 28, 2008 at 10:29 AM
subject    important for admin irreligion.org

Please delete the topic and photo

http://www.irreligion.org/tag/islam/

http://www.irreligion.org/2008/07/13/france-rejects-muslim-woman-over-radical-practice-of-islam/

http://www.irreligion.org/2008/11/22/top-islamic-body-yoga-is-not-for-muslims/

Because it disturbs more than one billion Muslims

Islam is a religion of the right

My Reponse:

from    Ian <ian@irreligion.org>
to    sayed sayed <tagerweb@hotmail.com>
date    Fri, Nov 28, 2008 at 10:57 AM
subject    Re: important for admin irreligion.org

No.

I’m guessthing this asshole never saw this link: Islamic Cartoons