News from Abroad
Gordon Dryden emailed me an update on the Hell billboards which I had written about in August 2005.:
Thus wrote Gordon:
Today, the New Zealand Council of Advertising Standards upheld, in part, a complaint against Hell billboards – with the photo of George W Bush, and saying “Even hell is too good for some bastards”.
Its ruling (seriously) did not find anything wrong with the reference to George B in that context but felt that the term “some bastards” might be offensive to some people.”
I think that putting the word “bastards” on a billboard where one may inadvertently see it is perhaps a bit much. Therefore I do not think removing the word amounts to censorship.
Censorship is when you are not allowed to express an opinion, an opinion that others who are not interested in knowing your opinion can well avoid. Take the case of this blogger.
ALEXANDRIA, Egypt — An Egyptian blogger was convicted Thursday and sentenced to four years in prison for insulting Islam, the Prophet Muhammad and Egypt’s president, sending a chill through fellow Internet writers who fear a government crackdown.
Abdel Kareem Nabil, a 22-year-old former student at Egypt’s Al-Azhar University, an Islamic institution, was a vocal secularist and sharp critic of conservative Muslims in his blog. He also lashed out often at Al-Azhar — the most prominent religious center in Sunni Islam — calling it “the university of terrorism” and accusing it of encouraging extremism.
Judge Ayman al-Akazi issued the verdict in a brief, five-minute session in a court in the Mediterranean city of Alexandria. He sentenced Nabil to three years in prison for insulting Islam and the prophet and inciting sectarian strife and another year for insulting President Hosni Mubarak.
Nabil, wearing a gray T-shirt and sitting in the defendants pen, gave no reaction and his face remained still as the verdict was read. He made no comment to reporters as he was immediate led outside to a prison truck.
Seconds after he was loaded into the truck and the door closed, an Associated Press reporter heard the sound of a slap from inside the vehicle and a shriek of pain from Nabil.
I wonder how long before India starts the witchhunt of bloggers. I am guessing a year or so. Book and movie banning is a pretty regular event given Indian secularism. Recently I was warned by a fellow blogger to not write anything that might upset religious sentiments.