Saturday, 15 December 2012
freedom of expression - is it real?
I do sometimes wonder. Freedom of expression is not real if it is confined to the expression of views that those who read them are comfortable with. It means nothing then. Following a couple of links led me to this rather impressive blog (in English, he also writes in Arabic) by one Waheed al-Hussaini, of whom I had not heard before. Read it. He is Palestinian, and was arrested, imprisoned and beaten up, effectively for not believing in Islam and saying so on line. He was told that society would not tolerate criticism of Islam. He got out and into Jordan, and thence became an asylum seeker in France, where he remains, pending a decision. He says he still does not feel safe. He appears to believe that he is now free to write on line, and so he is. The blog, published in the Independent newspaper's website, is evidence of that. But for how long? The chilling effect of persecution and abuse is well known, even if there is no risk to the writer of being arrested or imprisoned, or worse (try it in North Korea and see how far you get). The Satanic Verses would not be published now, because publishers would not want their buildings firebombed. Jew-hatred is rife. Goose-stepping and Nazi salutes in Brighton, England because it happens to be the location of an Israeli-owned business. This blogger is still doing it, but had to leave his family and friends behind to be able to continue. How many others would? Would you?