South Asia

Court rules nudity is not obscene

Indian artist MF Husain had been accused of offending Hindus with a painting in which he represented India as a nude goddess. However, the country’s Supreme Court has refused to launch criminal proceedings against him, and has upheld a lower court ruling in May that dropped legal proceedings in three cases against the painter and cleared him of obscenity charges.

The court said Mr Husains paintings were not obscene and nudity was common in Indian iconography and history.

In its ruling, the court pointed out that the nudity portrayed by Mr Husain had a long history, saying: There are many such pictures, paintings and sculptures and some of them are in temples also.

Husain, who has been living in the Middle East, welcomed the courts decision and said he was looking forward to returning home.

Editor receives death threat for publishing a cartoon

Najam Sethi, chief editor of Pakistans Daily Times, has received death threats (via) from militant group the Islamic Taliban Movement after publishing a cartoon in one of the paper’s sister publications, Aaj Kal.

The cartoon depicted Umme Hassan, the principal of a radical women’s madrassa, calling for female students to wage violent jihad. Hassan is the wife of Abdul Aziz, the prayer leader of the Red Mosque in Islamabad, who was jailed after the mosque was stormed by Pakistani troops last year. The madrassa she headed was demolished in the operation in which more than 100 people, including 11 soldiers, were killed.

Other clerics of the Red Mosque argued that since Ms Hassan was teaching the Koran to her students in the mosque, any attempt to belittle her was blasphemous.

The threat followed a demonstration in Lahore last week during which Hassan called the cartoon blasphemous. Security officials said that the threat was serious as soldiers involved in the raid on the Red Mosque had been the target of suicide attacks.

Redefining terrorism

Last week Norwegian newspaper Adresseavisen printed the above cartoon. According to (via) Pakistan’s ambassador to Norway, Rab Nawaz Khan:

What is terrorism? Terrorism you commit an act, and thereby invite a strong reaction. And that reaction when it gets into spin it is uncontrollable. Similarly this hurts the feelings of the Muslim community all around the world, and therefore I think in a way it is an act of terrorism.

Not according to my dictionary, it isnt.

Khan goes on to issue the sort of non-specific threat that these types of idiot are so fond of:

It also puts he lives of the Norwegian citizens in danger around the world. You must not forget that there are number of Norwegian companies working in Pakistan

ter·ror·ism – noun
the use of violence and threats to intimidate or coerce, esp. for political purposes.

Pakistan Ambassador: Its all YOUR fault

There has been a lot of speculation about the recent bombing of the Danish embassy in Pakistan, but Fauzia Mufti Abbas, Pakistans ambassador to the country, believes (via) – along with many others – that it was linked to the publication of the Muhammed cartoons. Inevitably, she goes on to draw the rather childish conclusion that the bombing of the embassy, which killed six people and left 30 injured, was the fault of the Danish press.

It isnt just the people of Pakistan that feel they have been harassed by what your newspaper has begun, she said. Id like to know if your newspaper is satisfied with what it has done and what it has unleashed?

Jørn Mikkelsen, Jyllands-Postens editor-in-chief, defended his newspapers decision to print the cartoons.

The decision to do so was in full accordance with Danish law, Danish press ethics and Danish press traditions. That the facts have been twisted in the rest of the world and misused for purposes that are no concern of Jyllands-Posten is something we can and will not take responsibility for.

Offensive food

Sikhs in Bangalore have been protesting (via) against a restaurant in the city because the menu included some pictures which they decided had hurt their feelings.

Over 50 Sikhs, who clearly had nothing better to worry about, gathered in front of the restaurant, tore up and set fire to a menu card and then marched off to the local police statement to file a complaint.

Gurudwara Committee president, Gursharan Singh claimed that some of the pictures on the menu – including a Kirpan (sword) and turban kept along with the footwear – somehow “humiliated” members of the community. He then went on to issue the inevitable threat:

“If the hotel management fails to tender a public apology through media or send a written apology to the Gurudwara, Bangalores Sikh community - comprising 8,000 members - will stage a massive dharna to prevent them from carrying out their business, he warned.

Denmark evacuates embassies

Denmark has evacuated (via) staff from its embassies in Algeria and Afghanistan to secret safe locations because of an imminent threat. The Danish Security and Intelligence Service are concerned about an aggravated terror threat level against Danish interests following the reprinting earlier this year of Kurt Westergaards Mo-Toon as a protest over a plot to murder the cartoonist.

Muslim countries abandon reality, demand censorship

Demonstrating a disconnection from reality that only the religious can achieve, several Islamic countries - including Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and Indonesia - are demanding (via) that the Dutch government prosecute Geert Wilders on the basis that his film, Fitna, on the basis that it somehow violates their human rights.

According to Omar Shalaby, the delegate from Egypt (last election, political prisoners), the decision by The Hague District Court last week, which said the lawmakers right to free speech and role as a politician allow him to freely voice his criticisms of radical Islam and the Koran:

This ruling may suggest that the judiciary is out of touch with the relevant international and regional obligations and jurisprudence in the field of human rights.

It is probably a lot more accurate to say that Shalaby, and the rest of these Islamic delegates who have done so much to undermine the U.N. Human Rights Council, are out of touch with the meaning of the phrase human rights.

Iran, whose president recently attempted to cast doubt on whether the September 11th attacks actually happened, claimed that the film is vivid example of Islamophobia and incitement to religious hatred, and demanded that the Netherlands change their laws to give special protection to Islam.

Back in the real world, the Dutch embassy in Pakistan has been temporarily relocated because of security worries. Officials are looking at how to tighten security around the vacated embassy building so that staff can return.

Pakistan parliament calls for Fitna censorship

The Pakistan parliament on Tuesday unanimously passed a resolution condemning the internet release of Fitna, and the reprinting of the Muhammed cartoons which followed the plot to murder the cartoonist Kurt Westergaard.

Calling both the film and the cartoons acts of defamations, the country’s information minister Sheri Rehman, claimed that not only do they hurt the sentiments of Muslims but also threaten the stability of many societies.

She didn’t elaborate on how a film, or a cartoon, can threaten the stability of a society.

She also called on the UN to take legal and political steps to curb this trend for free speech and guarantee a free pass for religious ideas.

Indonesia threatens YouTube

After banning broadcasts of Fitna, the Indonesian government has gone a step further by demanding (via) that YouTube takes down Geert Wilders Fitna or it will block access to the site.

YouTube dont have a great record when responding to demands such as these but, so far, are doing well:

In response to queries, a YouTube spokesperson said the site allows people to express themselves and to communicate with a global audience.

The diversity of the world in which we live spanning the vast dimensions of ethnicity, religion, nationality, language, political opinion, gender, and sexual orientation, to name a few means that some of the beliefs and views of some individuals may offend others, she said.

Elsewhere, Indonesian students set fire to the Dutch flag in Jakarta and about 70 Afghan women burned both Dutch and Danish flags during a demonstration on Wednesday in Kabul.

Judge rules that Richard Gere is not obscene

Almost a year ago, Richard Gere embraced and kissed Bollywood actor Shilpa Shetty during an AIDS awareness concert. Predictably enough, the easily offended started jumping up and down and an Indian judge issued arrest warrants for both Gere and Shetty for contravening the countrys public obscenity laws.

Indias Supreme Court has finally thrown out the case.

Richard Gere is free to enter the country. This is the end of the matter, a two-judge bench headed by the Chief Justice of India, KG Balakrishnan, said.

The judges said the court believed that such complaints (against celebrities) were frivolous and filed for cheap publicity.