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.

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.

Not hackers, just incompetent

Pakistan has denied being responsible for blocking global access to YouTube.

Analysis by net monitoring firm Renesys shows that the problems getting through to YouTube began as after Pakistan Telecom started to implement a block on the site on the orders of the countrys government. In short, Pakistan Telecom hijacked some of the net addresses assigned to YouTube and redirected them. These redirected addresses propagated beyond Pakistans borders and effectively brought down the site for two hours.

A spokesman for Pakistan Telecommunication has now tried to blame some unspecified malfunction for the outage, going on to say: We are not hackers. Why would we do that?

No-one is seriously suggesting that Pakistan Telecommunication deliberately tried to block the site globally. Just that they incompetently implemented an authoritarian order locally.

Pakistan wipes egg off face. Did Google blink?

After breaking the internet at the weekend, the Pakistan Telecommunications Authority (PTA) has told internet service providers (ISPs) to restore access to YouTube. Google, the owner of the video-sharing website has confirmed that service had been restored in the country.

The BBCs Rory Cellan-Jones has been keeping score and notes that the PTA is saying that it unblocked YouTube because the offending clip - a trailer for Geert Wilders film - has been removed.

Google says it never comments on individual YouTube videos. All a spokesman would tell me is this: When we receive complaints about videos we review them against our terms of use - which include things like pornography or gratuitous violence or hate speech - and where videos break those rules we remove them.

He wasnt happy at my suggestion that YouTube had blinked. But Im putting that down as another goal for the government - making it Government 2, Internet 2.

Pakistan blocks YouTube, breaks internet

On Friday, Pakistan blocked access to YouTube on the grounds of “anti-Islamic” content. The Pakistan Telecommunication Authority, which issued the order, didnt specify what the authorities had taken offence to although a PTA official mentioned a trailer for Geert Wilders unreleased film. The official also mentioned that the PTA blocks any sites that show the Muhammed cartoons.

In order to block the site, PTA engineers “hijacked” YouTubes server address, repointing it to technical cul-de-sac. The redirect details were then passed on to the countrys 70 Internet service providers so that anyone trying to access the site would be sent up the cul-de-sac.

And then these details were accidentally passed on, to Hong-Kong based PCCW who updated their servers and passed the details on. The upshot of all this was that YouTube was blocked all over the place.

Once the YouTube engineers realised what was going on they contacted PCCW who lifted the block. Google, the owners of YouTube, said that the problem lasted for about two hours.

Maybe the censorious types who called for the block in the first place should move to ban Pakistans government for making Islamic leaders look like a bunch of incompetent authoritarians.

More Mo madness

According to The Freethinker, Islamist students in southern Pakistan have responded to news of the plot to murder an elderly Danish cartoonist by burning a Danish flag. And, in Kuwait, several parliamentarians called for a boycott of Danish goods.

Of course, what really offended these people was that the Danish media refused to be threatened into silence by reprinting the Turban-Bomb cartoon which was drawn by Kurt Westergaard, the target of the conspirators to murder.

After the cartoons were reprinted, youths from the student wing of Jamaat-e-Islami, a right-wing anti-government Islamist party, protested in the Pakistan city of Karachi, and the Danish flag was burned.

Grouped outside the Karachi Press Club, the students held up banners reading “We strongly condemn the act of insulting the Prophet by the Denmark Press” and “Prime Minister of Denmark and the Pope should apologise to the Muslim community”.

Er the Pope? How did he get involved? Or are we just seeing the the wilful ignorance of the radically religious being displayed yet again?

Pakistan to unban Bollywood?

Indian films have been banned in Pakistan since 1965 but, in recent years, the Pakistani authorities have started to make exceptions. In 2006, for example, all of three Indian films were allowed to be shown.

Now, the countrys parliamentary committee on culture has recommended that the ban on Indian films should be lifted completely. The details are unclear, but reports suggest that the import of a dozen Indian films will be allowed against the export of an equal number of Pakistani films to India.

The government still needs to approve the proposal, but according to Senator Zafar Iqbal Chaudhry, who headed the committee: We have devised a mechanism for allowing the import of Indian films for a period of one year, after which the arrangements can be reviewed.

Its also unclear as to whether the Indian government will agree to such a scheme.

Even with the ban in place, Indian films are hugely popular in Pakistan and illicit copies are easy to find. Cinema owners in Pakistan are keen to screen Bollywood films, but local filmmakers fear an influx would harm their industry.