Press Freedom Day

2 May, '06

On the eve of the Press Freedom Day, the press in this, as well as virtually the whole Middle East, are in shackles, with parliaments aiding and abetting the press and its workers’ incarceration, utilising that ever-present fillip: religion, to justify imprisoning journalists and anyone else who dares to speak their mind and challenge a preconceived notion.

The parliament here for instance is doing nothing but donning its collective religious blinkers in insisting on jail terms for anyone who denigrates God or religions, this grievous harm is to be interpreted in such a malleable manner as to make it permissible for probably any lay person or journalist to see the inside of cells for long periods of their lives for simply looking at the sky and describing that experience in terms which might not be agreeable to the law enforcer’s ears. While the parliament is on a roll with imprisoning people for their thoughts, they thought that they might as well jail anyone who denigrates the king too.

It doesn’t stop there: from memory let me recount what could be regarded as jailable offence if this new law being debated now actually passes:

Denigrating God in all of His manifestations; in Islam, Christianity, and Judaism.
Denigrating the prophet.
Denigrating the prophet’s wives.
Denigrating the prophet’s companions.
Denigrating the prophet’s descendants.
Denigrating the King.
Denigrating countries which Bahrain has relations with.

There must be some others that they will cook up, but those are what my memory serves.

How can one even decide that an offence has been made to any of the above? Isn’t an offence a very subjective manner? What is offensive to you might not be to me, and hence the absence of clear definitions of laws leads to nothing but strife and societal discord.

Why do we need this anyway? Do we need to defend our creator at every turn in life and age? Couldn’t He take ample care of Himself? Would He really be offended if someone swore at him? Or is this used as a simple and accessible tool of and for suppression? More importantly, doesn’t that very law precludes scientific and artistic exploration? Everything will stop for the fear of making an offence.

What about a law that criminalises criticism of a monarch, doesn’t that law by definition breeches a law that criminalises denigrating God because that would put both on the same level? Yet we find the very proponents of such law are those who have installed themselves as the defenders of the faith!

All of these laws would serve nothing but be a hindrance to true and courageous journalism and self expression which would ensure transparency in this country, and threatening its practitioners with prison terms and heavy fines would serve nothing but increase corruption.

On the eve of the Press Freedom Day, let us pause a little and think of these unfortunate heroes who have lost their lives or are imprisoned for doing nothing but express their thoughts for the betterment of their societies:

Happy press freedom day.

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Sites That Link to this Post

  1. MODSPIL | 4 May, '06
  2. Global Voices Online | 3 May, '06
  3. News & Issues @ Look C Find.com | 2 May, '06
  1. Ingrid says:

    Dear Mahmoud, it is getting from bad to worse. Denigrating the prophet’s wives? It just goes to show how really DUMB and backwards these people are with nothing better to do than trying to find ways to get at other people. They are all over the world mind you; people who gossip, gossip magazines, people who complain to a home owners association about someone violating some rule even though it does not effect anyone or is even true. There is this type of person the world over that feels the need to control. In the wrong setting, it goes to the absurd but it must feed some basic need. Here is to raising your kids right so that they feel loved and accepted and in control over their own destiny. And given the freedom to explore their own live’s paths to do good for humanity. I salute all those people in the press who have done just that and lost their lives for it. At least they did something worthwhile.
    Ingrid

  2. tooners says:

    This is a very scary situation. I feel unease because what if I want to badmouth the U.S. govt? I prob could get thrown in jail for it because Bahrian has relations w/ them.

    So, is it only in the press or could you just be talking to someone and they turn you in for saying something or what?

  3. Ibn says:

    This is what we have to be vigilant about Mahmood.

    The Freedom to speak ones mind, is something we should NEVER half-ass on. It is our fundamental and unfettered right as human beings, to say what we want, when we want, to whoever we want. (Threats are NOT included).

    Everynow and then, I do try to come up with sound strategies on how we can change those laws to make them freedom of speech friendly. I am currently torn between the brute force method, of simply distributing flyers of dissenting views from an underground source, simply publishing what we want whenever we want and distributing them for free. More realistically, this would probably have to be some form of TV program, but the caveat is that is MUST be aired from inside the middle east. Otherwise its a farce.

    The other option was getting the current leaderships to warm up to the issues. Although I dont like the idea, because I would rather not have anything to do with them. Cutting deals with them is tatamount to acknowledging them on some level, and I refuse to do so.

    We’ll see. 🙂

    Hurriya la kul in’nas!

    -Ibn

  4. Anonymous says:

    Could someone tell me what good has come out of this parliment (in a list)

  5. mahmood says:

    eerrrrmmmmmm

    okay okay wait wait wait thinking thinking

    eerrrmmmmmm

    can I get back to you on that?

  6. tooners says:

    I can tell you a few little simple positives or what makes happy faces… hmmm let’s see:

    * well, they don’t pollute the environment as much because they drive really expensive cars that the govt pays for.. not like a lot of the old cars w/ bad emissions being driven around by ordinary folk who don’t have monthly allowances for such nicities 😉

    * they also keep themselves really happy because they are given monthly allowances for secretaries – that they don’t hire (too bad for the job market), so it keeps their pockets about BD700 or so very happy at the end of each month

    cheers!

  7. Anonymous says:

    please get back to that question mahmood I would love to know………Could someone tell me what good has come out of this parliment (in a list) ?

  8. Anonymous says:

    oh ya and someone should get going, promoting, blogging the best candidates for the next election….We don’t want to fall in the same SHITHOLE do we?

  9. mahmood says:

    we discussed this issue in our last mini-meeting and we’re starting an election blog which will be contributed to by all/most bloggers. just wait!

    as to the list, I’m not going to spend time on collating that information.. you can do that yourself and come back to us with it.

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