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Ed Webb

From journalists to generals, Algeria cracks down on dissent | Middle East Eye - 0 views

  • While the economic crisis related to the fall of oil revenues has caused political and social tensions, the Algerian authorities are showing increasing intolerance towards criticism, already under attack since the start of President Abdelaziz Bouteflika’s fourth term in April 2014.
  • Hassina Oussedik, director of Amnesty International’s chapter in Algeria, says the attacks on freedom of expression have been "constant".

    "In 2015, not a month has passed without witnessing cases of people being oppressed as they try to express themselves peacefully. The authorities rely on poorly formulated or ambiguous laws to arrest people," she told Middle East Eye.

    "They use provisions of the penal code that criminalise 'contempt', 'insult' or 'defamation' aimed against representatives of the state and other institutions in order to restrict freedom of expression, including humour, expression on the internet and on the street."

  • But an Algerian police officer, in charge of monitoring public demonstrations, said claims of repression were excessive and defended his activities.

    "Repression? Dictatorship? Censorship? All of this is much exaggerated and is far from the truth," he told MEE. "If we did not do our job of monitoring and surveillance, Islamists and terrorists would feel omnipotent. In the 90s, this led us to chaos! Is it normal to insult the state, the president, the police or the army with impunity?"

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  • A former minister also defends the state’s repressive policy: "Newspapers, with their criticisms and caricatures that spare no one, even the president and the army chief, aren’t they free? But the law will remain strict against those who attack the institutions and the nation; we are not a gang of criminals who must be denounced all the time. We are servants of the state and those who criticise the government are attacking Algeria."
  • In the former minister's view, the majority of social opposition movements, jobless in the south, anti-shale gas activists, subversive artists and independent publishers, are simply “naive people manipulated by forces hostile to Algeria and its government’s patriotic choices".
  • Minister of Communications Hamid Grine, described by the Workers Party leader Louisa Hanoune as the “propaganda minister”.

    Regularly, the minister threatens journalists, independent media, foreign press correspondents and activists on social media in the name of "ethics". He imposed the closure of two private TV channels, Atlas TV and El Watan El Djazairia TV, and publicly refused to grant accreditation to foreign press correspondents, including a journalist from the London-based daily Asharq Al Awsat, demanding that they "toe the line".

Ed Webb

Egyptian student is jailed for posting image of President Sisi with Mickey Mouse ears |... - 1 views

  • A 22-year-old Egyptian has been jailed for three years after posting a photo-shopped image of the country’s president wearing Mickey Mouse ears on Facebook.
  • tried by a military court for sharing satirical posts on social media sites
  • posting pictures considered inappropriate for a member of the armed forces
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  • Nohan also posted comments containing anti-establishment messages according to the indictment, including ‘Down with Sisi, Morsi and Mubarak’, which was branded ‘an insult to national figures’
  • It was ruled that he had ‘thoughts inside of him that run contrary to that of the ruling regime’, and he was court-martialled.
  • ‘We are truly in a Mickey Mouse state,’ his brother Mansour Nohan told IBTimes. ‘Satire is a way for any people that have a mind of their own to express themselves, be that in a democratic country or not.’
  • Cybercrimes and the circulation of satire have become a serious problem for the Egyptian president in the five years since the beginning of the Arab Spring.
  • In April, a cybercrimes law was drafted which Human Rights Watch criticised as containing ‘broadly worded provisions that could be abused to penalise legitimate expression online and through social media sites’.
  • more than 42,000 political prisoners behind bars
Ed Webb

Propaganda MonitorMiddle East Archives - Propaganda Monitor - 0 views

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    A new project headed by the former editor of an Egyptian newspaper, based in Belgium, monitoring propaganda around the world.
Ed Webb

Israel, Mired in Ideological Battles, Fights on Cultural Fronts - The New York Times - 0 views

  • Miri Regev, the divisive and conservative minister of culture and sport, who wants to deny state money to institutions that do not express “loyalty” to the state, including those that show disrespect for the flag, incite racism or violence, or subvert Israel as a Jewish and democratic state.
  • For one well-known poet, Meir Wieseltier, the law “brings us closer to the rise of fascism and exposes its true face.” But Isi Leibler argued in The Jerusalem Post that the government is “not obliged to subsidize the demonization of the nation” and should instead support “the inculcation of love of Israel.”
  • such conflicts, over what cultural works the state should promote for schoolchildren to read or for citizens to see and hear, is part of a political drama in which the politicians of a new generation are jockeying for position as leader of the so-called nationalist camp
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  • The Israel they represent is more religious and less beholden to the values and inheritances of the old, Europeanized elite and its dwindling left
  • This month, the left-leaning daily Haaretz highlighted internal discussions in the ministry about what artistic works might be considered “politically undesirable” for high-school students. Among the criteria, the newspaper said, were whether artists would perform in West Bank settlements and declare loyalty to the state and to the national anthem, something that is particularly problematic for Israel’s Arab citizens.

    Internal discussions are not policy, but even this report drew stinging responses, with Oded Kotler, a prominent Israeli actor and director, comparing Israel to the Soviet Union and telling Israel Radio, “There’s a real culture war underway here, but the war from that side of the political map is a harbinger of zealotry, darkness and coercion.”

    Mr. Kotler infuriated the government and the political right last summer when he compared its supporters to “cud-chewing cattle.” That was in response to Ms. Regev’s effort to freeze state funding for an Arab theater in Haifa because of a play about a Palestinian prisoner who murders an Israeli soldier. The production, “Parallel Time,” had enraged the right and Mr. Bennett banned school trips to see it.

  • Mr. Bennett, for his part, overruled ministry experts to ban from high-school reading lists a novel about a romance between an Israeli woman and a Palestinian man, apparently out of fear that it promotes assimilation. The romance takes place abroad; the pair splits up when they return home, to Israel and the West Bank. Mr. Bennett said the novel, “Borderlife,” by Dorit Rabinyan, disparaged the Israeli military, and the head of his ministerial committee said it “could incite hatred and cause emotional storms” in classrooms.

    The debate about the book actually increased its sales, something Ms. Rabinyan credited in an interview to “the strength of Israeli democracy.”

  • The novel begins with the Israeli woman, who is Sephardic, coming under suspicion of terrorism in New York over her “Arab” appearance and because she writes from right to left. “This is the bond that connects her to the Palestinian,” Ms. Rabinyan explained. “I don’t consider my Israeliness to be hegemonic.”
Ed Webb

Blaming Islam for ISIS: A convenient lie to prepare us for more war | Middle East Eye - 0 views

  • We can’t defeat ISIS if we misrepresent what and who ISIS actually is. Far from being the apocalyptic Islamist group that Wood contends they are, actual IS documents and blue prints reveal IS to be methodical state builders, led by secular Baathists – who aim to restore Sunni-Baathist power in Iraq. These documents also make clear that Saddam’s former generals (anti-Islamists) use Islam as a recruitment tool. “They [ISIS founders] reasoned that Baghdadi, an educated cleric, would give the group a religious face,” notes the German newspaper Der Spiegel.
  • recruits are drawn to ISIS for reasons that have little to do with extremist Islam. “They are woefully ignorant about Islam and have difficulty answering questions about Sharia law, militant jihad, and the Caliphate,”
  • the media welcomes only those who blame Islam or “radical Islam” and not those who speak to the conditions that make ISIS appealing
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  • blaming Islam makes us feel good about ourselves. Blaming Islam is good for television ratings. Blaming Islam makes it easier to sell new wars
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