Monday, January 18, 2010

Also making news this week...

Controversial move to ban Islam4UK
The British government has banned radical Islamic group Islam4UK. Its leader, Anjem Choudary, has among other things called for the execution of the pope for insulting Islam, and praised the 9/11 hijackers as "magnificent martyrs". He clearly hates the British state, yet happily collects a welfare cheque from it. His group has abhorrent terror-supporting views, sure, but what about freedom of speech? And given how these numbskulls feed off a persecution complex, will the move backfire and fuel further radicalism?

Limbaugh and Beck try to turn the Haiti tragedy into an attack on Obama.
Lovely chaps, aren't they? If you thought Pat Robertson's "pact with the devil" comment was inappropriate, influential right-wing commentators Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck seemed determined to go one step further. Limbaugh basically dissuaded his listeners from donating to earthquake relief, implying that US domestic needs are more important. Beck claimed that Obama was "dividing the nation" by responding so much quicker to the crisis in Haiti (full of black people) than he had to the underwear bomber incident (in which no one was killed).

"Tank man" picture available in China via Google
The standoff between the Chinese government and Google heats up, with fears the internet giant will pull out its operations from China. It has refused to censor its content, and has faced attacks from Chinese hackers. Meanwhile, the famous picture of a protester standing up to the tanks in Tiananmen Square, has suddenly become available at google.cn. While it is a well-known image world-wide, most Chinese have no idea of its existence.

Malaysian unrest over non-Muslims using the word "Allah" in reference to God.
The High Court recently ruled that "Allah" was a perfectly fine word for Christians and others to use, which enraged many Malays, who believe it should be purely for Muslims to use. The Malay-dominated Government has taken sides and condemned the ruling, and there have been incidents of violence and vandalism targeting Christian churches and now Sikh temples. Good analysis here, while Unspun has some worthwhile perspectives also.

Indonesian journalists appeal the ban on "Balibo"
The Independent Journalist Alliance has been showing guerilla screenings around the country of the banned Australian movie, which depicts the murder of 5 Australian journalists by the Indonesian military in East Timor in 1975. They are now challenging the ban in court. This is a real test for Indonesia in my opinion; as a nation moving away from dictatorship and towards free democracy, the powers that be need to accept that uncomfortable films like Balibo are an important facet of a democratic state. President Yudhoyono's military background may be compromising his judgement on this.

1 comment:

  1. "His group has abhorrent terror-supporting views, sure, but what about freedom of speech?"
    I don't know about UK law, but perhaps they could prosecute it as hate speech, since he's inciting hate crimes?

    "And given how these numbskulls feed off a persecution complex, will the move backfire and fuel further radicalism?"

    This is a problem definitely, not sure how to shut them down without creating that sort of response.

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