Tuesday, February 07, 2006

A slippery slope

Yesterday I wrote my feelings about the issue of THE CARTOONS. In the last paragraph, I hinted that the magnification of this issue is probably not coincidental, and various governments are using the feelings aroused (actually whipped into a frenzy) to achieve certain agendas. There are a number of indications that this is the case in Jordan.

Yesterday, Lina pointed out that MP's are feeding the demagoguery. They are leading the call to toughen laws on "insulting of prophets", asking for jail terms for up to three years for anybody who "Insults a prophet openly and whoever sends a written or electronic document or any drawing or representation in a way that demeans the prophets or ridicules them or downloads or reproduces any of the above". The government plans to go along (as if they are just innocent onlookers).

In the same article, the honorable MP's asked the government to "Reject the licensing of new religious (Christian) groups", which they claimed the government was being pressured to accept. I am not sure what this has to do with the cartoons, but there are other indications that many agendas are at play and that the cartoon issue is an appropriate cover. Don't ask me why the government needs to issue licenses for religions, because I don't know.

Within this atmosphere, Al Ghad tells us of a crackdown on internet centers in Irbid. The article says that the governor of Irbid met with the owners of the internet centers to "Prevent the use of unauthorized sites". The sites include "those that evoke sexual instincts, degrade religious feelings, or the system of government or encourage the use of illegal drugs".

This rush of censorship was precipitated by the publishing of THE CARTOONS by Shihan and Al Mihwar in Jordan. The editors were dragged to jail and charges are being dug up to teach them a lesson. What is interesting is that editor of Shihan, Jihad Momani, is an ex senator, and is known for being pro regime. The publication of THE CARTOONS by Shihan came at a most opportune time, I must say.

Of course, as this undemocratic rush continues, we can expect a lot of add-ons to proposed legislation that would involve wish lists of all those involved. After terrorist attacks in Amman killed more than 60 innocent victims in Amman, people were afraid that the government would use this to limit freedom of speech. What the terrorists couldn't do was achieved by some cartoons. Talk about sense of proportion.

Oh. You can forget about freedom square.



At 5:56 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It is obvious that all the governments are using the cartoons issue to channel their people's anger and frustration out through them. No wonder then that the most damaging forms of expressing took place in Lebanon and in Syria.

Not only are the governments using people's anger, but they are also feeding it, whether by official statements or by the participation of officials in some demonstrations.

I think the issue will not be resolved until, say, the World Cup begins. By then people will have something else to worry about.

The regimes will have to come up with something as BIG as the cartoons and the WC to keep their people busy come August, however.

At 8:18 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think it is a slippary slope, however where can we draw the line here. I am sure Governments will use this to put a cap on freedom of expression, ironically the Islamists will pay a heavier price than others, since they are more vocal even they are the ones fueling people's anger in streets. But again, where do we draw the line? An anti-Semtic show won't be tolerated in the Western World today and nobody will defend hate campighn under the freedom of expression. What do you think?

At 9:40 PM, Blogger Khalaf said...

Jameed: I can't wait for the WC to start. Lets hope the damage will be limited until then.

Issam: I disagree that the Islamists will be restricted. What will be restricted would be anything the Islamists want to restrict. This would include any criticism of them (as they represent Islam) and anything that they find offensive. Liberals who lined up to defend the Islamists after the terror attack blew it. Too bad.

At 11:24 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

توصيف في محله للوضع الذي تتجه إليه الأمور، ولاحظ أن انه الآن وفقط لآن ثمة توجه للتراجع عن حق الناس في التعبير فإن هذا التراجع سوف يتم بشكل تشريع قانوني إن لم يكن "دستوري" أما عندما تتطلب موازين القوى من الحكم أعطاء الناس حقوقها ورفع سقف الحريات ..الخ فإنها تتم عادة من خلال لجان وقنوات لا دستورية وعلى سبيل المكرمة بدون أي مرجعيات قانونية تلزم اجهزة الدولة والحكم

At 3:12 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Who would’ve thought I’d become so addicted to “what’s up in Jordan?” Just wanted to say that I am glad you’re back from your hiatus.

I can’t get over the horror of what’s been happening. Have we all lost our minds? As far as I am concerned they’re all cut from the same cloth: the flag-embassy-effigy-burning-Qur'an-totting fanatics; the Bible-thumping-right-wing-extremists; and your run-of-the-mill-cartoon-drawing racist, xenophobe,provocateurs using freedom of speech to breed intolerance and incite hatred.

Freedom square? Level headed, moderates who still believe in dialogue and diversity and the remote possibility that people can share this planet will be lucky to get a square meter of freedom. The square has been taken over by the hotheads.
Your Anon Addict


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