I cringe whenever I hear or read those words. Why? Because they are always used as a pretext to restrict an intrinsic freedom or used as a justification for trouncing all over a basic human right.
It is as if “Traditions” are sacrosanct, enshrined and set in gold. They – we are led to believe – are the very essence of perfection.
This is not so of course, just like any other society on Earth, we do have traditions which are shameful, ones that we should diligently work at eradicating. But if we are faced with this oft-used mantra of “protection of our traditional values”, we might as well forget about the rest of the world and be content in our own little cocoon. Our isolation, in this case, is completely voluntary and well deserved.
We all know of course that protection of traditions or values are farthest from their minds. What they want to protect – not to put too fine a point on it – are their well exposed derriÃƒÂ¨res!
Witness the latest “protection” visited upon us by the two old stalwarts of human rights and personal freedoms and democracy: Saudi Arabia and Egypt. They have successfully towed 21 other countries – this valuable rock amongst them – to put their thumb-prints on a document restricting broadcasting – sorry, sorry, it’s not restriction, but really at attempt at
organization and putting rules and restrictions to increase the investment opportunities in these channels and ascending by the presented informational message.
Ah yes, of course. The minister of disinformation of Egypt continues:
Al-Fiqi said that there is a state of randomization in the satellite channels which don’t differentiate from the random housing in some countries. The examples of such randomization are many, such as transforming the channel possession without rules and its deviation from the registered form, besides the programs of jugglery and nakedness and so on.
Other than suddenly and categorically understanding what actually ails our own beloved BNA, I have no idea what they guy is going on about. Click the link and have some comic relief, maybe you’ll make head or tails of that erudite piece of journalism. Oh, and his wit and effervescent personality, of course.
The document being non-binding is moot of cousre. Yet, only Lebanon specifically opposed it, while Qatar is “studying” it. The others, well, they follow the piper.
Remembering all of these organisational efforts which we have signed into, you can imagine the tears of mirth pouring down my face while reading Al-Waqt this morning. You see, our illustrious Shura Council are discussing legislation for the establishment of private radio and television stations! [translate]
Now, with “organising” measures which
allows authorities to withdraw permits from satellite channels deemed to have offended Arab leaders or national or religious symbols.
Who in their right mind is going to establish anything in these countries, let alone enter into the highly unpredictable and treacherous world of visual and aural media?
Ah well, let me just be on record in thanking Ebrahim Bashmi & Co. in the Shura Council on their valiant efforts over the last 6 years in trying to codify modern and fair press and media laws which will elevate and protect the basic and most important human right, the freedom of expression, and humbly tell them to not bother. The high blood pressure they and other honest persons endure, is really just not worth it. Leave it to the Internet to give them real heart-burn!
What they want; really, is nothing more than the traditional noddy dog backed by the various excellent musical themes of Monty Python on their screens.
Let them have it, and a wise company would take its money elsewhere.
Very well said, Mahmood. I wonder what would they do with Y! Live new service. I bet they don’t know about it yet!
Reserve your channel on Y! Live and start broadcasting live!
From Article 19
a. not to offend the leaders or national and religious symbols in the Arab world,
b. not to damage social harmony, national unity, public order or traditional values,
c. to conform with the religious and ethical values of Arab society and take account of its family structure,
d. to refrain from broadcasting anything which calls into question God, the monotheistic religions, the prophets, sects or symbols of the various religious communities, and
e. to protect Arab identity from the harmful effects of globalization.
The language, being so broad, essentially means that anyone who opens is or her mouth on Satellite, is grounds for having the channel thrown off the air. A person criticizing faulty government run trash collection services could be interpreted as damaging “national unity.”
To protect Arab Society from the harmful effects of globalization…. aren’t most of us already highly globalized and already feeling both the good and bad effects of that? This is broad enough to allow for the forceful cutting of any broadcast of ideas.
Since International law supersedes national, how will conflicts between Bahrains existing freedom of the press laws, and these overarching restrictions, be resolved? This entire charter is a tool for states to remove or reform independent media stations that do not conform to the propaganda of the state. For a region with such a wide ideological spectrum represented in the media, this is extremely detrimental to our societies as well as our political progress.
I did that with Mogulus Ali, but unfortunately as the so called ADSL we have is brain damaged (intentionally?) even at 1MB+, the experience wasn’t worth it. But I am absolutely sure that it will get better, in spite of Batelco and Co.
I know TJ, I am no longer amazed at the methods they resort to in order to control what is said, specifically about them. They are running scared to be sure, and these “documents” are proof positive that the global community – of which the Arab public is a part of – is winning.
I’ve just read that Bahrain is launching a “crackdown on homosexuals”, which will include deporting foreigners suspected of being homosexual, raids on hairdressing salons, and the arrest of people who “look homosexual”.
PS – is Michael Jackson still living there?
AWAY WITH SATELLITE FOOTPRINTS!
There is a revolution taking place with how content is being delivered to our square boxes. It is extremely exciting. TV delivered over your existing broadband internet connection on demand. Arab broadcasters should be very worried indeed.
Great news for us lot that want to watch quality British TV on our sofas right here in Bahrain!
“Uhh yes yes, you have freedom to broadcast freely.. unless it goes against the law of course…”
Argh! From my talks with other fellow Arabs, you would think that the president of their country is directly related to them. Criticism of a president is like you just called his mom a whore.
While I somewhat understand this, (its typical of someone to do that in seige mentality – and we definately are in a seige from the outside), however I motion that this really is counter-productive.
Mahmood, I think that this needs to be tackled first before even hoping for a political “rule change”.
Dictatorships aside, a free-political laws in a country are like egg whites on teflon unless the underlying societies accept them.
If we do not bring about this change on the cultural level first – in people’s heads, cafes, in the way we raise our kids, then our future will be defined by Islamist Fascists and autocratic rulers, who at the end of the day, for all their complaining, cannot bring about any possible change both domestic and foreign.
The first group cannot bring itself to accept that time didnt stop moving past the 7th century, and the latter are mostly concerned about their savings at Swiss bank accounts.
Im all for underground information warfare against the autocracies. Take no prisoners.
They manhandle the Arab nation and do not allow us to live to our full potential, all the while the rest of the world moves forward at warp speed.
Those statements seem to be very much in line with this UN-resolution
Ã¢â‚¬Â¦ and The Vatican seems to be learning accordig to this link
“Traditional values” are the coprolite of the Middle East.
The law in theory does make sense, only with it comes to the insult and religious values symbols, etc.. Because that technically would open the air for some to publically offend other religions and the outcome could be damaging for all (that is if unity is on our agenda). Secondly I support the law if it bans pronography, which again is not healthy for our generation of viewers.
As for the other guidelines, as long as we brush the dust under the carpet how do we expect to progress.. If a person is incompetent, whether guilty or not-guilty should not be afraid of critism whether it being positive or negative. Why not allow that person to defend himself, including leaders..
Laws like these (if approved) not only pave the way for fabrication, but for those who are incompetent and neglictant of their peoples needs to be exposed, in the hope that lessons are learnt and situations improved.
I salute Al-Jazeera & Lebanon for opposing the agreement, which in our world does create a conflict of interest, and without a doubt contradicts the freedoms of press and publications which we tend to very often flap our gums about in excitement.
For every one positive step forward, we seem to be taking three steps backwards ❗ ❗ ❗
Steve, yeah, just as they are with neo-cons and others who think like you do who always spout about protecting “traditional values” here in the west.
We won’t talk about the neo-con propensity to latch onto the bible thumpers and other purveyors of traditional culture like swamp leeches on a pig. Say hi to the other end of the rope, dude.
“e. to protect Arab identity from the harmful effects of globalization.”
I am amused that this implies to me that there’s some sort of tooth and nail fight to box Arab identity away into some box as if it could be preserved like Lenin’s corpse. Since when were all Arabs exactly the same?
I don’t believe states are free to mix & match. It is to be implemented in it’s entirety – or not at all.
Like TJ pointed out, it is extremely vague. For example – How is a national symbol to be defined? How do you constitute “traditional values”?
I’d like to hear what comments institutions such as Dubai Media City and the regional broadcasters like MTV Arabia have on this charter.
Barry: “Steve, yeah, just as they are with neo-cons and others who think like you do who always spout about protecting Ã¢â‚¬Å“traditional valuesÃ¢â‚¬Â here in the west.”
Your foolish prejudice against conservatives in general and me in particular are nonsense based on ignorance. One vast difference between conservatives like me and the Muslim fundamentalists is that I do not prohibit criticism of any position I hold. Any one who wants to critique conservative positions is free to do so. Our positions will benefit from being better honed by argument or abandoned in those rare instances when the critics find a legitimate deficiency. By contrast, the Islamists with whom you equate us in error believe all their positions are sacrosanct and can not be criticized. That’s why they hold so many stupid positions and are such failures in the world.
Barry: “We wonÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t talk about the neo-con propensity to latch onto the bible thumpers and other purveyors of traditional culture like swamp leeches on a pig. Say hi to the other end of the rope, dude.”
Since I’m an atheist, I won’t be latching on to any Bible thumpers, as you absurdly claim. The only Bible thumpers I have ever tried to latch on to were at Baptist singles clubs. That was a dead end.
You make the tiresome error that American conservatives are mirror images of Islamic fundamentalists. They’re not. The differences are obvious to the intelligent casual observer: 1) We don’t care what religion you are as long as you don’t try to impose it on us; 2) We believe in free speech; 3) There is no topic beyond criticism; 4) You have a right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. There are more, but this is probably enough for you to digest at the moment.
Sam – I agree but something that defines everything needs to be laid out. If it is free, you end up with rougue statements that are built on assumption. Basic principles such as respect, are essential. In other words you can accuse somebody of being X in a polite way, and at the same time the same accusation can be slapped out in a way that leads to confrontation.
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Don’t look now but the UAE seems to be about to curtail free speech by banning Facebook and MySpace under the auspices of them being against ‘cultural values’ (or ‘traditional values, same same).
I have noticed that the censor currently spends time and energy in the UAE by ‘blacking-out’ pictures in magazines that it doesn’t like, but censoring the internet is a bit out of order. I’m glad that we can still, if we want, purchase an uncensored copy GQ or whatever magazine we like in Bahrain.
I only hope that the current parliament doesn’t take a leaf out of the Emirati book and do likewise and consider censoring the internet.
There is a very heated debate here in Denmark at the moment about whether to let organizations like Hizb ut-Tahrir, The Muslim Brotherhood, Neo-Nazi groups etc. retain their rights to organize themselves and agitate for their ideas, despite the fact that they in their basic ideologies are very anti-democratic.
The cores of their ideologis are very much against the principles and values of our society and culture but, satellites transmitting their messages and websites speaking for their causes are still open.
Are there any similarities or differences between this proposal from The Arab League and the debate here?
Is it an indication that there is actually a clash of cultures?
What’s there to debate? Either you allow freedom of speech, or you dont.
Germany’s current laws against someone giving a Nazi salute are not only down right funny, but go against classical liberalism they are supposed to be founded on.
Direct threats on individuals are not to be tolerated obviously, as is the case with criminal justice.
Not only is freedom of speech fundamental, but when you start to ban certain types of it, it goes underground – the very act of banning their message actually serves to fuel them some more.
Members of Hizb ut-Tahrir, including their chairman have been distributing leaflets with the text: “Kill the jews whereever you see them”.
Their chairman said those words in a speech to a big group af people at a gathering and was imprisoned for it. He is out again now.
A Neo-Nazi group, consisting of about 150 members with their own radio station, had their license to broadcast withdrawn for a couple of months for inciting hatred against jews but they are in the air again.
Should groups like that be allowed to continue unhindered?
Like I said, I agree, it’s better to keep them out in the open where it’s easier to follow their activities but is there a limit?
As that saying goes, “your rights end where my nose begins”. Threats would seem to be the exception in this case, for the simple reason that someone makes his intentions to harm you clear.
So how does “incitement to hatred” fit into all this? Well to be honest thats a tough question because its in a greyzone between those two cases.
Incitement can be a threat towards a certain group. Should that be allowed? I would say no. At the same time, incitement can just be “trash talking” a certain group, without any explicit threats. Should that be allowed? I would say yes.
I popped in today to see if you had a comment about this story:
and was surprised to see that you do not. I’m especially impressed to know she was caught by matching voice recordings. What will they think of next?
I read it and discarded it. Just CallerID would have led to her arrest. Clearly a bit short of a bundle that one.
haha very funny! I love the way the MOI big up themselves with what they consider to be “modern technology”.
Caller ID isn’t really a good way to identify the source of a call though:
She called from her own phone? Amateur! No doubt about it – we live in interesting times. I pray for peace and ready myself for war.
Why spoof caller ID when you can make calls with no Caller ID? Many VoIP providers have no outgoing caller ID when you use their service. There’s a million ways to make untraceable calls.
Banning some sorts of speech can also backfire on you badly. For example, here in the UK we have several “incitement to racial hatred” laws. A Deobandi organisation called the Muslim Council of Britain then successfully campaigned for these laws to be extended to include “incitement to religious hatred”. Guess who has ended up being prosecuted the most under these new laws? Yep – Muslims themselves.
Thats true Ash.
Ive always found it funny how in Germany one is not allowed to defame Jews, but defamation of Muslims is just dandy.
I do not find it funny at all. Rather, I find it appropriate and just knowing of what had happened in the recent past.
Germany after all is a democracy and these laws reflect the will of its people. The same holds true in other European countries.
The Muslims have no chance of having similar laws enacted in their favor. They do not have the numbers but more importantly they do not have the strength of the argument. As Ash has mentioned, the first people to be prosecuted under such laws would be them.
However, I thought the calls from the Muslim Council of Britain for Ã¢â‚¬Å“incitement to religious hatredÃ¢â‚¬Â to cover them were never answered. Perhaps Ash could advise us more on this.
Nine, being polite, I would call that “unfortunate”. What it really is however, is hypocritical.
Laws in the classical liberalism sense are meant to be color-blind. If you are going to apply one set of laws to one ethnic group and not another, then you go down towards the path of tribalism.
But let us entertain this idea even further: You say that you agree with such laws, given what has happened to one group in the past. How about I take it one step further, and say, let us just apply that same standard to everyone as a preventative measure?
This means, that Danish cartoons who defame Muslims would be banned – afterall – we wouldnt want to incite hatred would we?
Can’t you see the differece between stating: “I don’t like your car” and “If you say you don’t like my car, I will kill you”?
I sure can… but I dont see how this related to anything here..
My point is that if they want to make it illegal talk “hatefully” about Jews and Holocaust, then lets make it illegal to talk “hatefully” about anyone.
I dont support such a position of course, but I am playing devil’s advocate.
One af my favourite occupations is playing the devil’s advocate.
I agree with you that rules should be applied without in a “colour blind” way in a perfect world. However, the German position on the Jews is understandable when you consider the past of their nation.
I agree that Jews at times get “special treatment” but, a big part of the Western population is still full of remorse because of their parents’ failure to see what was happening to the Jewish population worldwide.
The same German feeling of shame of the past was probably the main reason for the harsh measures of the seventies against communists in Germany in connection with the Rote Armee Fraction. They did not want to be seen as giving in to a movement that had a violent ideologi as part of their political program.
I also disagree with the laws in some countries that denial of the Holocaust is illegal. The arguments of the deniers should be met with historical facts and disgust instead of imprisonment.
The moment the deniers of the Holocaust start saying: “Kill all the Jews” they should be put away, though.
So, maybe we don’t disagree that much, after all 😉
…. and my words:
…. should have been:
“…applied in a Ã¢â‚¬Å“colour blindÃ¢â‚¬Â way in …”
I also “understand” why it is the way it is in the West with regards to the Jews. However, that is still no excuse for hypocritical laws.
It is as if the Jews are on some sort of “endangered species list” and thus they are given all this special treatment based on past wrongs done to them.
If that is the case then, why dont we put together some barometer of sorts, that quantifies how bad one group has gotten it with respect to the West, and create special provisions for them based on that.
Percentage wise, the gypsies got it much worse than the Jews did, but we arent making special provisions for them.
So again, as bad as they got it, thats no excuse to curtail freedom of speech. It is unnegotiable. Period. The minute you make an exception based on the past of one group, you have to make exceptions based on the past for another group.
On top of that, if your purpose of banning that speech is a preventative measure against another Holocaust against the Jews, then why dont you also prevent that type of speech towards Muslims and any other groups as well, so that they are not the new victims of a future holocaust?
I respectfully beg to differ. On this fundemental issue, we are light years apart. I do not care for exceptions towards any one group when it comes to freedom of speech.
For example, in the US, I cannot get away with saying “nigger” since I am not black, but rappers say it all the time. To me, that is hypocritical nonsense. (Although technically this is a social barrier not a legal one).
I believe in the unequivocal, un-negotiable, fundamental, and indivisible principle, of freedom-of-speech, as highlighted above. This means, you make no exceptions for anyone, because the minute you do, you stray away from liberalism, and come towards facism.
Which is why, we disagree, not agree. What you advocate is the curtailment of my freedom based on some hypocritical form of favoritist tribalism.
Yes I agree that laws should be color blind. However, this preventive measure as you put it should not be applied to all. After all this one particular group suffered heavily and it is right that such preventive measures are adopted. We do not want history to repeat itself do we?
We also need to be practical here. If we are going to apply the same rule to every other religion then you will simply shut everybody up. No one will be able to say anything fearing that they might offend the religious feelings of somebody out there. There are hundreds of religions. Perhaps thousands. So limiting it to one group is not only practical but right given the history.
Your latest comment just, once more, indicates where you and I differ.
I may have had the same sort of clear distinction as you between black and white in my yonger days. I don’t now.
And how can you compare the Holocaust and the suspicion of Jews and their intentions of earlier times to the objections people in the West today have against some Muslims that openly declare their hostile intentions?
You do not want the holocaust to happen to that old group. But surely, you do not want to holocaust to happen to a new group right? Ergo, you ban all “hate” speech.
Precisely why you dont want to do it to any group to begin with. Thats why laws are meant to be color-blind. Once you remove that, you are faced with two choices: Be hypocritical in your application of law, making one set of laws for one race/religious group (racism), or be “favouratist” towards anyone to begin with.
Furthermore, what is your metric for measurement of “past suffering”? Total losses? Percentages? What? As I mentioned before, the Roma (Gypsies) lost more than 50% of their polulations on earth, but no one is making any provisions for them. Why is that? Should they not be included as well?
Why not two groups? How about 5? 7? 10? Whats the magic number? And why are we focusing on the holocaust – what about the number of indigeneous populations killed by colonial Britain – they were also in the millions – is hate speech against blacks to be banned as well?
Im curious – should the UN ask Japan to ban hate speech on Chinese as per the rape of Nanking? Should the US be asked to ban hate speech against Indians?
Here’s a question for you – should we ban hate speech against certain groups before they get sent to ovens, or only after?
This is the path one goes down when one begins to talk about selective application of laws based on color and ethnicity: Racism. (Some also call it reverse-racism, but its really the same thing).
Thats unfortunate. Freedom is not negotiable. Whats gotten into you Europeans? Dont you understand this anymore?
Im not talking about objections people in the West have about the Muslims who blowup your subways. Im talking about hate-speech against Muslims who arent blowing up your subways, as a result of, directly or indirectlty, the current political climate.
In that sense, they are in the same boat as their Jewish counterparts in Germany. Charges levied against them that they are part of a global conspiracy to import Sharia, to kill infidels, to create a “Eurabia”, to want to kill dissidents, that Mohammad-was-a-terrorist-therefore-those-people-worship-a-terrorist-and-we-all-know-what-we-must-do-with-terrorists message that cartoons, hateful op-eds give out.
In this sense, we are seeing the seeds of a new breed of neo-fascism take root, and this time, the Muslims are the scapegoat.
I did not say that the law was comprehensive. Ideally it should cover each and every group but that would not be practical.
After all what harm there is no trying to protect one particular group who were subject to a systematic and determined attempt to exterminate them from the face of the earth?
As for your call to ban hate speech against blacks well that is hilarious for it is already a crime to incite racial hatred. It is also a crime to make hate speeches against native Americans in the US and it is a crime, I think, to do the same against the Chinese in Japan.
Excuse me while I switch topics for one second and talk about some ground rules first:
During my typical workday, I spend about an hour on this blog in total, (give or take), trying to articulate questions, answers, rebuttals, etc to other debaters.
If you are not going to bother answering my questions, or at least directly addressing points I have made, then it makes no sense for me to invest my time in articulating them for you to begin with.
This is one of the hallmarks of debate. I answer you, you answer me. Repeating what you had just said one post ago, is not a “reply” by the way. Glazing over what I have said or repeating your first point as if time stopped just wastes my time, and yours.
If you insist on conducting yourself this way, then I will be happy to pat you on the back, and simply say “Yes yes, you are right” and send you on your merry way.
I am sorry but I failed to understand your point.
I thought I had answered all the questions you raised.
The only question that I perhaps did not address was “HereÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s a question for you – should we ban hate speech against certain groups before they get sent to ovens, or only after? Only because I did not take it seriously but I can answer it now as follow;
We should ban hate speech before the damage is done.
As for patting on my back please don’t. There is no need for it. We are complete strangers here and I do not get excited about it. And yes; I answer you, you answer me. Deal!
My apologies, I have been extremely busy these past couple days. Will respond when time if more forgiving. Hopefully soon.
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