Tag Archives: freedom

Islamists, Europeans, and Free Speech

Last year, Network Solutions (a hosting company that caused Chet trouble on an unrelated problem) yanked the website of Dutch parliamentarian Geert Wilders, who produced a movie entitled “Fitnah” to protest the murder of the director of the movie “Submission” Both “Fitna” and “Submission” focus on perceived mistreatment of women in Islam.

Britain yesterday decided that avoiding another terrorist strike was more important that free speech or even Continental Unity (as Mr. Wilders is a Parliamentarian in a fellow EU member state). Wilders’ response is typical of his bravery and showmanship:

“I’ll see what happens at the border,” Geert Wilders told Radio Netherlands on Wednesday. “Let them put me in handcuffs.”

The right-wing lawmaker was invited by a member of Parliament to show his anti-Islam movie “Fitna,” which calls the Koran a “fascist” book and accuses Islam of being a violent religion. He was told by the British Embassy in a letter Tuesday that he could not set foot in the country.

Previous attempts to show the film, in the real world and online, have been met with death threats and self-censorship. In the U.K., making the film is cause for expulsion from the country.

My hat off to Mr. Wilders, and other defenders of intellectual freedom everywhere.

Update: Geert Wilders has been denied entry at Heathrow Airport, and was then detained.

Update 2: More on the retreat of free-speech in Europe, from The Economist.

Saudis Oppose Religious Connectivity

Saudis arrest 40 Christians in raid on secret church,” Associated Press, 29 April 2005, http://www.suntimes.com/output/news/cst-nws-saudi29.html (from Democratic Underground).

Nothing surprising. Freedom, human rights, and connectivity have no place in the Saudis’ despotate of Arabia.

Forty foreign Christians, children included, were arrested for proselytizing when police raided a clandestine church in suburban Riyadh. Convictions could result in harsh prison sentences, followed by deportation.

And we should tolerate this state as an ally why?

Members of other religions generally are allowed to practice their beliefs within private homes but may not seek converts or hold organized religious gatherings.

Way to shrink the Gap. Killing (often literally) connectivity isn’t a recipe for success.

The Saudi’s aren’t friends to Shia Muslims in East Arabia, either.

China Detains Dissidents

China Detains 3 Who Criticized Government,” by Joseoph Kahn, New York Times, 14 December 2004, Online at http://www.nytimes.com/2004/12/14/international/asia/14china.html. (Linked to on the Drudge Report)

China is modernizing country. It has gone a long way since Mao. Its economy is very free and the people are connecting themselves to the Internet. Recently, China launched very high powered cell phone transmissions into North Korea, allowing dissidents to make cheap and hard-to-trace phone calls to the outside world and one another. And then you hear about something like this:

BEIJING, Dec. 13 – The Chinese police on Monday afternoon detained three leading intellectuals who have been critical of the government, apparently stepping up a campaign to silence public dissent.

Yu Jie and Liu Xiaobo, literary figures, and Zhang Zuhua, a political theorist, were detained in raids at their homes, relatives and friends said. Mr. Yu’s relatives were handed a warrant that said he was suspected of “participating in activities harmful to the state,” said his wife, Liu Min.

The detentions were the latest in a string of arrests and official harassment of journalists, writers and scholars who have spoken out against government policies or written articles or essays that officials have deemed damaging.

Since President Hu Jintao replaced Jiang Zemin as China’s military chief in September, leaving Mr. Hu in full command of China’s government, ruling party and army, analysts say the political environment has become more repressive. The scope for discussing sensitive topics in the state-run media has decreased, they said, while the authorities appear intent on punishing people who violate unwritten rules about the limits on free speech.

China is still a one-party dictatorship. China bans independent churches of all types. China has onerous censorship laws.

The Middle Kingdom has come a long way, but there is still a long way to go. The only long term solution is to keep increasing the Chinese people’s economic liberty and connectedness, and wait out the old regime.

*sigh*