Sweden

Uncensored and online

As part of their continuing battle to free the Internet, The Pirate Bay has now launched (via) an uncensored blogging service, called Baywords. The service is intended to be a safe haven for bloggers who want to be able to write whatever they want, without being afraid to get shut down by their blog host.

‘It’s good to know how much one is worth’

MoDog Ive not been following the Swedish MoDog controversy as closely as I could have been, but heres the story so far:

On August 18, Swedish newspaper, Nerikes Allehanda published a by Lars Vilks as part of an editorial piece protesting the lack of art galleries willing to show such work. The image is based on the odd Swedish phenomenon known as roundabout dogs. Inevitably enough, outrage followed, with Iran leading the charge with the claim that it was all part of some Zionist Plot.

The Swedish government, media, and the newspaper in question have been very clear that no apology will be forthcoming and, following protests in the country, Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt said:

I think its important to say two things. First, we are eager to ensure that Sweden remains a country in which Muslims and Christians, people who believe in God and people who dont believe in God, can live side by side in a spirit of mutual respect.

We are also eager to stand up for freedom of expression, which is enshrined in the constitution and comes naturally to us, and which ensures that we do not make political decisions about what gets published in the newspapers. I want to make sure we keep things that way

Recognising a handy distraction, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Egypt and Jordan all jumped on the offended bandwagon.

And then the death threats started. A woman was arrested for threatening the artist. She attempted to justify the attacks by claiming that “her beliefs and convictions had been desecrated and attacked”. Aww.

The latest news is that Swedish companies are lowering their profile in the Middle East amid fears of violence and a statement purporting to be from al-Qaeda put a $100,000 (£50,000) bounty on the head of the cartoonist.

The internet threat stated: “We know how to force you to apologise. If you do not, expect us to strike the businesses of firms like Ericsson, Scania, Volvo, Ikea and Electrolux.”

Mr Vilks, however, is taking things in his stride:

“I suppose that this makes my art project a bit more serious. It is also good to know how much one is worth,” he said.

A leading Swedish daily newspaper, Dagens Nyheter, yesterday republished the cartoon in an act of solidarity with Nerikes Allehanda and the daily newspaper Svenska Dagbladet has urged Swedes to defend their right to free speech in the face of religious fanaticism.

“Freedom of expression is not a privilege for the media companies and journalists but a guarantee that citizens can have different impressions, numerous sources of information and inspiration, as well as the possibility of drawing their own conclusions.”

Quite.

Christian censorship

Moves to abolish the worlds oldest film censor, Swedens National Board of Film Censors, have stalled.

Two of the parties in the center-right government, the Conservative Moderates and the Liberals, have proposed abolishing film censorship here.

Liberal politician Cecilia Wikström told Swedish Radio news that censorship is an old-fashioned method of trying to prevent people from watching movies, when today it is possible to download any film content over the Internet.

The purpose of the Board of Film Censors is to decide the age limit for movies and to edit out any scenes with heavy violence. The board itself wants to remove its censorship role, and says it hasn’t made a cut in a film in several years.

However, the Christian Democrats - also a member of the governing coalition - halted the plans on the rather spurious basis that censorship of films for adults was needed in order to protect children.

Update

Gunnel Arrbäck, head of Sweden’s National Board of Film Censors, has resigned.

Arrbäck told Swedish daily ”Svenska Dagbladet” she had been unable to get her planned changes to the board’s role sanctioned, and would therefore leave her position.

Swedish Foreign Minister quits over Muhammed

Swedish Foreign Minister Laila Freivalds has resigned after the foreign ministry ordered the website of a far-right party to be shut down.

The site had been intending to publish the pictures at the centre of the Muhammed Cartoons Conroversy and was forced to close on 9th February after a foreign ministry official contacted the sites hosting company.

Critics attacked this as an intrusion on free speech.

Ms Freivalds initially claimed that she had not ordered the official to contact the company, but a later report from the ministry said she was involved in the decision.

No sex please Were Swedish

According to SwissInfo, Swedens Prime Minister, Goran Persson, has been lashing out against scantily clad women in the media.

Sweden prides itself on the work it has done to narrow the gap between men and women, for instance by having generous paternity leave and welfare allowances which encourage men as well as women to stay at home and look after the children.

It also has strict rules against pornography and prostitution. Persson indicated this was not enough.

TT quoted Persson as saying he hoped the press would regulate itself on this matter, but that if it did not then he would consider legislating against it. He said an enquiry would be held to see what form such laws would take.

Tabloid, Aftonbladet, has responded robustly to this threat of press censorship.

Limits on the freedom of speech and what should be printed in the media are not compatible with our democratic values, Afotnbladet editor-in-chief wrote on the newspapers website

(via The Melon Farmers)