March 2008

Indonesians discover irony

Offended at Geert Wilders suggestion that there might be a connection between Islam and violence, a few dozen Indonesians demonstrated outside the Dutch embassy in Jakarta on Sunday.

The demonstrators, the Muslim group Islamic Defenders Front, held placards saying Kill Geert Wilders and Holland go to hell!

Hair today, gone tomorrow

After endless speculation, threats and attempts to ban it, Geert Wilders Fitna was released on Liveleak on Thursday. And now it isnt.

Instead, Liveleak are now showing The Removal of Fitna Official Liveleak Statement

Following threats to our staff of a very serious nature, and some ill informed reports from certain corners of the British media that could directly affect the safety of some staff members, Liveleak has been left with no other choice but to remove Fitna from our servers.

This is a sad day for freedom of speech on the net but we have to place the safety and well being of our staff above all else. We would like to thank the thousands of people, from all backgrounds and religions, who gave us their support. They realised LiveLeak.com is a vehicle for many opinions and not just for the support of one.

perhaps there is still hope that this situation may produce a discussion that could benefit and educate all of us as to how we can accept one anothers culture.

We stood for what we believe in but, the ability to be heard, but in the end the price was too high

so we took the easy option

On Monday, the IPPR released a report claiming that young people are spending too much time online. The government has now responded by announcing plans to change the video games rating system.

A government backed review carried out by psychologist, Dr Tanya Byron has recommended a new rating for games aimed at children aged 12 and over - greatly expanding the role of the BBFC in classifying games.

Living up to his name, Ed Balls the Schools secretary called the report ground breaking and promised to implement all of the recommendations in full.

This additional tier of regulation for the, already heavily regulated, video games industry means that they will continue to meet the BBFC guidelines for games aimed at adults, comply with the more realistic European PEGI regulatory system (the ratings for which will be moved to the back of the box) and submit ever more games aimed at older children to the BBFC to comply with the new regulations. And the government will chuck up a couple more websites to do their usual job of explaining the mess.

Confused? You will be.

Ex-Muslim releases film. Faces censorship

Geert Wilders is not the only Dutch politician making a foray into filmmaking. Ehsan Jami, the Labour Party councillor and founder of the Central Committee for Ex-Muslims, announced in October of last year that he was working on a film project that could turn out to be as controversial as the Mo-Toons.

Yesterday he told the current affairs programme Netwerk that the animated film that will be released on 20th April. Inevitably enough, CMO, the Contact body for Muslims and the Government, has said they will take legal steps to try and prevent the film from being shown.

Elsewhere, Geert Wilders has responded accusations that he is avoiding discussion with opponents by calling for a debate with opponents and supporters after the presentation of his film Fitna.

Indonesia introduces thought crime

Indonesias parliament has passed a bill making it a crime to access internet sites containing violent or pornographic material. Anyone found guilty faces up to three years in jail or a heavy fine.

Inevitably, those behind the bill – which passed with support from all ten of the parliamentary factions - claim to be “protecting children” from online images. Im not quite sure how this would work however since prosecuting minors who go looking for porn doesnt strike me as a very effective form of protection.

The intention is to start blocking sites that the government doesnt like from next month.

BBC unblocked in China

BBC staff working in China are reporting that – after years of being blocked - they are able to access stories on the BBC news website.

Although Beijing has never admitted to blocking access to BBC news stories it has been the case for nearly a decade that the only way for people in China to reach the site was by using a proxy server based outside of the country.

There has been no official confirmation that the website has been unblocked but statistics show that traffic to the website from China has been much higher than usual.

The Chinese authorities had promised to give foreign journalists more freedom in the run-up to this summers Olympic Games.

But analysts say that recent outbreaks of unrest in Tibet have made this promise more difficult for Beijing to uphold.

The BBC and other media organisations still find reporting from Tibet very difficult - foreign journalists were refused permission to enter the region during the recent protests.

So, is this a genuine loosening of web censorship in China or just a temporary PR move in the run up to the Olympics?

Update

China Forums (via) suggest the site is now available across most of the country. Other sites including the Guardian are also now available, but Wikipedia and YouTube are still blocked.

Wilders website shut down

The website via which Geert Wilders was planning to distribute Fitna, his still inseen anti-Koran film, appears to have been shut down. If you visit the website, it will tell you:

his site has been suspended while Network Solutions is investigating whether the sites content is in violation of the Network Solutions Acceptable Use Policy. Network Solutions has received a number of complaints regarding this site that are under investigation. For more information about Network Solutions Acceptable Use Policy visit the following URL: http://www.networksolutions.com/legal/aup.jsp

According to Network Solutions, the sites hosting company, they are investigating complaints that it may have breached guidelines on hate language. How Wilders managed to breach Network Solutions guidelines before he released any content has not been explained.

The great video shutdown of China

Following the recent unrest in Tibet, Chinese authorities have banned (via) 25 websites, from providing audio and video services and issued warnings to a further 32.

They were punished for broadcasting obscene, fear-inspiring or violent content or programs that might endanger national security and interests, or for offering such services without the required qualifications or certificates, the circular said.

The cases of five others, which had no qualifications to provide audio and video services on-line but still did so, were transferred to telecommunications authorities.

Motoons II: Man in cave issues threats

Bearded cave-dweller, Osama bin Laden has released a five minute audio message warning Europe that it faces a severe response for publishing the Muhammed cartoons, claiming that they are “part of a new crusade in which the Pope of the Vatican had a significant role.”

Christians attempt to censor cartoons

Protestant groups in Russia are urging (via) the Prosecutor General Yury Chaika to shut down the cartoon channel 22 for broadcasting shows they claim promote homosexuality and religious intolerance.

The Consultative Council of the Heads of Protestant Churches in Russia sent a letter to Chaika on Wednesday, accusing 22 of promoting cruelty, violence, homosexual propaganda, religious hatred and intolerance by airing cartoons such as South Park, said Vitaly Vlasenko, a spokesman for the group, which unites several Protestant denominations

The channel, which broadcasts Western cartoons aimed at adults has already pulled two of its shows - Happy Tree Friends and The Adventures of Big Jeff - after a receiving a warning from the government media watchdog. A second warning letter could result in the loss of the channels broadcasting license.

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