China: Man sentenced to One Year Labour Camp for Blog

In February China launched a campaign against dissent that has resulted in the detention of those criticizing the Chinese government without giving the accused a trial.

Chinese blogger Fang Hong was detained on April 24 and sentenced to serve one year in a Chongqing re-education labor camp for using a blog to mock the chief of Chongqing’s Communist party, Bo Xilai, despite his removal of the blog post following the orders of web censors.

Hong’s blog arose from Chongqing’s prosecution of a lawyer, Mr. Li, who defended a man being prosecuted for perjury. Mr. Li was himself charged after his former client testified that he had encouraged him to make false torture allegations. However, many believe that Mr. Li was framed by the government for opposing the campaign of Bo Xilai. Mr. Li was convicted and sentenced to two and a half years in prison.

More here.

Egypt: Kareem is being beaten at the State Security Intelligence headquarters

Kareem Amer is an Egyptian blogger who was condemned to a 4-year-prison term for “insulting Islam“. The end of his imprisonment has come but, instead of freeing him, he has been kept in prison and beaten severely.

The Arabic Network for Human Rights Information reports that Kareem is being beaten at the State Security Intelligence (SSI) headquarters in Alexandria where he was held illegally for the past five days. The press release notes that Kareem has completed his full sentence and should therefore be released. A translation of the report’s highlights are below:

On the 6th of November Kareem Amer was released from the Borj Al Arab prison, where he was held for years, and his official release was meant to be processed, however he was detained by the State Security Intelligence in Alexandria where he faced beatings by a junior officer as well as an order for his continued detainment.

Gamal Eid, the director of the Arab Network for Human Rights Information, said that these practices against an unarmed prisoner is creating a climate of hatred against the police forces in general and the State Security Intelligence officials in particular. Kareem already spent years of punishment and his release is now a legal obligation, therefore why is he being beaten and held illegally?

The network stresses that holding a prisoner under these conditions despite having completed the sentence given four years ago is an injustice that people will not be willing to forget. Egypt’s ministry of interior will have to one day answer for these crimes. The ministry in question, with all its soldiers and officers, are not more powerful than a person’s right.

via Free Kareem! – Kareem is being beaten at the State Security Intelligence headquarters.

During his prison term he has been harrassed repeatedly:

This is not the first time prison authorities have gone out of their way to harass Karim Amer,” said CPJ Middle East and North Africa Program Coordinator Mohamed Abdel Dayem. “Egyptian authorities seem intent on degrading critics even when they are in prison. Karim Amer should not be in prison at all.”

He has also been tortured.

I really hope that he is freed as soon as possible. He did nothing but speak his mind. And yet, he was condemned, imprisoned, tortured, harrassed and is now facing illegal detention. On a personal basis, his family disowned him and his father wanted Sharia Law to be applied to him:

The family of Al-Azhar student Abdul Kareem Nabeel Suleiman, accused of “contempt of religion”, has disowned him before his court verdict session on the upcoming Thursday. His father, a retired mathematics teacher, has demanded applying the Sharia [Islamic law] ruling on him by giving him three days to repent, followed by having him killed if he does not announce his repentance.

Iran: Jailed Filmmaker Challenges Khamenei

Jailed Iranian Filmmaker Challenges Supreme Leader – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty � 2010:

“Iranian filmmaker and journalist Mohammad Nourizad has written an open letter (Persian) to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei arguing that the United States does more to protect religious freedom and moral values than Iran, RFE/RL’s Radio Farda reports.

Nourizad — who has been in Tehran’s Evin prison since August — wrote in his letter on October 10 that since Iran’s disputed 2009 presidential election, violations of people’s privacy has become more common.

He said religious mobs have attacked the home of Ayatollah Yusef Sanei, a critic of Khamenei. In the United States, by contrast, he said personal privacy is strictly protected by law.

Nourizad previously wrote for the conservative newspaper “Keyhan” and said he fully supported Khamenei until last year’s controversial presidential election caused him to speak out against the government.

He was arrested late last year after publishing several open letters on his blog deemed as disrespectful to Khamenei and other senior officials. He was sentenced to 3 1/2 years in prison. He also was sentenced to 50 lashes on charges that remain unclear.

He was released on June 24 but summoned back to prison in August after writing a blog post that was critical of Khamenei.

Referring in his letter to religious freedom in the United States, Nourizad wrote: “The American judicial authority defends Muslims’ rights and allows them to build mosques just a short distance from the Twin Towers. But in Islamic Iran, Sunni Muslims are not allowed their own mosque to worship without fear in Tehran.”

Comparing morality in Iran and the United States, Nourizad wrote: “Americans have been brought up in such a way that they seldom lie, while lying is clearly evident among the people and authorities in our country.””

Blogosphere: Why Europe still doesn’t get Islam?

Sultan Knish a blog by Daniel Greenfield:
As Americans are blinded to the dangers of Islam by their experience with multiculturalism, Europeans are blinded to the dangers of Islam by their inexperience with multiculturalism. Both make the mistake of assuming that Islamic violence is part of the multicultural norm, rather than the resumption of an old invasion of Europe. The chaos and confusion in a multicultural society can make it hard to spot real threats against the background noise, frustrations and raw nerves of cultural friction. It becomes easy to lump in complaints about too many Indian restaurants, with complaints about angry mosque worshipers. And it becomes all too easy for authorities to tell people to just make the best of it, while ignoring the situation. The authorities are certain that eventually a natural balance will arise a generation or two down the road. The slow realization that the native born Muslims are actually more radicalized than their fathers and grandfathers is worrying them, but not in a particularly constructive way. Instead they are torn between England’s accommodation policies and France’s integration policies, neither of which get at the heart of the problem.

Debates over swimming classes or a radical mosque here and there are only the smaller branches of a fast growing tree. Because the problem is not merely cultural differences, those can be and have been accommodated. The problem is that Muslims believe that their way of life is morally superior, and that any system or institution that does not follow those laws, is invalid. Furthermore they believe that they have a duty to impose their laws on others in the name of their religion or honor.

Right on target. I don’t know what proportion or what is the number of Muslims who actually believe that, but certainly there is an important number who consider that they are morally superior.

Iran: Hossein Derakhsan, aka "Hoder", sentenced to 20 years

There were fears he would be condemned to death. But the sentence is still too hard for just speaking his mind. CNN:
An Iranian court has sentenced the so-called “blogfather” of Iran to 19½ years in prison, the semi-official Mashregh news website said Tuesday.
Hossein Derakhshan was “convicted of cooperating with enemy states, making propaganda against the Islamic system of government, promoting small anti-revolutionary groups, managing obscene web sites and insulting Islamic sanctities,” Mashregh reported.
The 35-year-old Canadian-Iranian blogger and activist was also banned from journalistic endeavors and from joining any political parties for five years.
Derakhshan was arrested on November 1, 2008, and is being held at the Evin Prison in Tehran, reported the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran.
Hamed Derakhshan, Hossein Derakhshan’s brother, was shocked when he discovered the news of Hossein Derakhshan’s sentence from an online news report.
It targets exactly freedom of speech and expression. Maybe they are trying to make an example of him by giving him a heavy sentence,” Hamed Derakhshan told CNN.

Blogosphere: The dark side of the man who "warned" South Park creators

South Park title image depicting most of the c...Image via Wikipedia

He should be very proud of being “famous” now.

By all appearances, Zachary Adam Chesser was the boy next door. He played football and was on the crew team at one of the best high schools in the country. He even studied Japanese. He was hardly the sort of boy you’d expect would suggest on a radical Islamic website that the creators of the edgy cartoon series “South Park” will be targeted for death.

But Chesser also had a dark side. He was a “loner,” a former classmate said, one who frequently drew pictures of Satanic figures in his notebooks and had just a few friends, most of them male.

“He was definitely sort of weird,” the classmate told FoxNews.com. “He was very into violent industrial music, borderline Satanic bands and stuff like that. He had dark undertones in his interests.”
Two years later, Chesser is literally a changed man. He now uses an alias and has a new set of hobbies. He now likes to be called Abu Talhah Al-Amrikee, and his primary interest in this world appears to be Islamic radicalism.

…What seems to bend reality is what has happened to Chesser. The school he attended, Oakton High School in Fairfax County, Va., was ranked the 103rd best high school in the country by Newsweek in his graduating year and was ranked 88th by US News & World Report the year before. Among the schools alumnae is 1984 graduate Michaele (Holt) Salahi, better known as the White House dinner party crasher.

Chesser’s background offers nothing to suggest that he would recently have eloped and married a Muslim woman he met in college, a woman who has given birth to their baby boy, according to neighbors. While there is no evidence that Chesser became radicalized while at George Mason, there were “dark overtones in his interests” for years, dating back to his years in middle school and high school.

Chesser’s longtime classmate, who requested anonymity, said he did not overtly express an interest in converting to Islam while in high school. But given Chesser’s past as a loner who sought to create conflict, she said she was hardly surprised to learn what’s become of him.

“I was initially pretty surprised because you never suspect someone you’ve known for so long to put out something like that,” she said in reference to Chesser’s web posting. “But once I thought about it, I wasn’t really surprised. There was definitely a ‘loner thing’ about him. He had an interest in being controversial and saying crazy things.”

Chesser’s interests — hardcore industrial music, Goth and Satanic materials — appear to have translated “pretty well to violent extremism,” the classmate said.

Chesser lives with his mother, brother, wife and son in Centreville. His parents are divorced, but they maintain an amicable relationship. His involvement in Revolution Muslim is largely unknown in his hometown, neighbors told FoxNews.com.

“They’re very isolated people,” said a neighbor who requested anonymity. “His mother is very friendly, though. They say ‘hi’ when I see them, but they don’t get personal with anybody.”

The neighbor, a devout Christian, said she was scared and surprised to learn that Chesser has posted messages calling for the murder of Jews and, most recently, the deaths of Parker and Stone.

So this guy is what we have called all time a freaky loner, with an ability to be controversial. It’s like: “hey, I’m really an outsider, but I don’t mind, you’re so freaking idiots you all”. He went from listening to Goth and Satanic materials to be an Islam convert who loves violence. Interesting evolution. Another “not very likely to be violent”, like Aleksander Tikomirov. With one difference: Tikhomirov was actually a terrorist, this guy just menaces from a PC, and I am sure he would be frightened (really frightened) if the same threats warnings would be posted against him.

But the stupid statement of week goes to Ibrahim Hooper, CAIR‘s chairman:

Ibrahim Hooper, a spokesman for the Council on American-Islamic Relations, characterized Revolution Muslim as a loosely-organized group with such outrageous beliefs he believes it may be a “setup” to smear Islam.

“They say wild and irresponsible things periodically,” Hooper told FoxNews.com. “There’s a strong suspicion that they’re merely a setup to make Muslims and Islam look bad. They say such wild and crazy things that you have to wonder.”

So the guy who presides over an organization which is linked to Hamas and Saudi Arabian Wahabbis and who said that “I wouldn’t want to create the impression that I wouldn’t like the government of the United States to be Islamic sometime in the future. But I’m not going to do anything violent to promote that. I’m going to do it through education“, says RevolutionMuslim.com is a setup to smear Islam. Has you looked at yourself, dude?

He just considers that “education” is going to take too long and that he wants to reach the same goal (an Islamic US) more quickly. Of course, it certainly doesn’t make Islam look good, but neither does Hamas or Saudi Arabia Wahabbists…

http://www.youtube.com/v/HPKNyysrDkE&color1=0xb1b1b1&color2=0xcfcfcf&hl=en_US&feature=player_embedded&fs=1

Via.

The South Park creators have published a press release on the issue:

Posted on: 04.22.10
A Statement from Matt and Trey

In the 14 years we’ve been doing South Park we have never done a show that we couldn’t stand behind. We delivered our version of the show to Comedy Central and they made a determination to alter the episode. It wasn’t some meta-joke on our part. Comedy Central added the bleeps. In fact, Kyle’s customary final speech was about intimidation and fear. It didn’t mention Muhammad at all but it got bleeped too. We’ll be back next week with a whole new show about something completely different and we’ll see what happens to it.

Via.

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South Park 0, RevolutionMuslim.com 1?

South Park title image depicting most of the c...Image via Wikipedia

Background here.

According to CNN, there is apparently a debate going on inside the Muslim community after the threats warnings the Islamist webpage, RevolutionMuslim.com, issued against South Park’s creators.

Blogger Bilal el-Houri is agnostic but he grew up in a Muslim family in the mostly Muslim region of the Middle East. He said, “My first thoughts on the episode were “haha!”, but then I realized how deep and complicated this issue is.

El-Houri said he was quickly reminded of tragedies that ensued from other infamous depictions of Prophet Mohammed. In particular he recalls the Muslim outrage in 2005 following publications of Cartoons of Prophet Mohammed in a Danish newspaper. He said he witnessed in Beirut, Lebanon, crowds take to the streets and burn the building housing the Danish embassy.

“I remember seeing people crashing and burning police cars and ambulances that had nothing to do with Denmark or their cause.” He also recalled how “al Qaeda issued a call to murder Dutch politician Geert Wilders” for his film “Fitna” which was critical of Islam.

El-Houri observed that the “South Park” episode highlighted the fear from “barbaric Muslim retaliation” when a Muslim symbol is featured in the media. He said Muslims should focus on convincing others not to show iconic figure out of “respect to Islam” instead.

El-Houri’s advice to Muslims is to “appreciate free speech” and use its tools to debunk the misconceptions that exist around the world about Islam and showcase the peaceful side of their religion instead of reacting to what others publish or broadcast. “The media makes fun of Jesus, The Pope, politicians and so on, all the time, but you don’t see Catholics burning tires outside Comedy Central’s studios.”

Ayaan Hirsi Ali agrees. The “South Park” episode “was not just funny, it wasn’t just witty” she said, but it also addressed what she called the essential issue that “one group of people, one religion, that is claiming to be above criticism, and I hope that in the aftermath of this, that we discuss that.”

The New York Post has a point:

Stone told web site Boing Boing that they couldn’t live with themselves if they gave up their freedom of expression by curtailing their humor, but he also admits that the current reality is awful. In a “South Park” episode from 2001, an image of Mohammad passed without incident but that, Stone explained, was before the Danish cartoon controversy, “so it somehow is fine.” Stone added, “Then, after that, now that’s the new normal. We lost. Something that was okay is now not okay.

Perhaps Stone and Parker can console themselves that President Obama has declared that we aren’t at war with “Islamic radicalism” anymore so hopefully no Islamic radicals will feel the need to stab them to death like film-maker Van Gogh.

The BBC has more on the Boing Boing interview:

Speaking in an interview with the Boing Boing website before the 200th show aired, the South Park team defended the scenes. “We’d be so hypocritical against our own message, our own thoughts, if we said, ‘okay, well let’s not make fun of them because they won’t hurt us,'” said Parker.  “It matters to me when we talk about Muhammad that I can say we did this… and I can stand behind that,” Stone added. 

“I don’t think it’s going to change the world, but this is how it’s got to be for our show.” 

In 2006, Comedy Central banned Stone and Parker from showing an image of Muhammad in an episode that was intended to be part of a comment on the controversy caused by the publication of caricatures of the prophet by a Danish newspaper. 

An earlier episode, Super-Best Friends (2001), contained an image of Muhammad but passed without comment.  “It was before the Danish cartoon controversy, so it somehow is fine,” Stone told Boing Boing.

In the end, they have caved in (or was just a joke to confuse “censors”? It doesn’t really has very much to do with Stone’s words, does it?):

Satirical animated TV show “South Park” beeped out the words Prophet Muhammad and plastered its Wednesday episode with the word “CENSORED” after being issued a grim warning by a U.S. Muslim group.

The irreverent comedy show on Comedy Central also substituted a controversial image seen last week of the Prophet Muhammad in a bear outfit with one of Santa Claus in the same costume.

Via.

Here is how they responded to the threat:

We apologize that South Park Studios cannot stream episode 201 at this time.

After we delivered the show, and prior to broadcast, Comedy Central placed numerous additional audio bleeps throughout the episode. We do not have network approval to stream our original version of the show.

We will bring you a version of 201 as soon as we can.

Via.

So, is there really a debate on the Muslim community? Remember than both Hirsi Ali and el-Houri are NOT Muslims now…

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