Freedom of Expression
Writer Alaa al-Aswany recounts a picaresque Egypt, in which powerful people, humble peasants, women of all walks of life, intellectuals and gays interweave their lives suggesting a reality that defies the stereotypes about the Muslim world. We propose an interview the author, censored in his homeland and persecuted by Islamist extremists, granted to Le Monde.
Syrian journalist Yara Bader, co-director together with her husband of the Syrian Center for Media and Freedom of Expression, wrote a letter to British paper The Guardian to demand his release after over one year in prison.
Open letter of Turkish writer Nedim Gürsel to Prime Minister Erdogan.
25 year old Maikel Nabil became the first prisoner of conscience in post-Mubarak Egypt for accusing the army of corruption and repression. According to his lawyer this represents a warning for all pro-democracy activists in Egypt to refrain from criticizing the armed forces or face jail. Harsh stance of Human Rights Watch.
Update 12 February
Tal al-Mallouhi, 19-year old Syrian blogger, was sentenced to 5 years jail for 'collaboration with a foreign Country', i.e. the United States, by the Supreme Security Court of Damascus.
Journalist Hrant Dink was shot dead for advocating reconciliation between Armenians and Turks. Attorney Fetyheh Cetin points to "the existence of a powerful apparatus and a mentality that only legitimizes the murder but makes impunity something ordinary". 2011 Hrant Dink Prize awarded to Prof. Marco Impagliazzo. Op-ed by politologist Zafer Yörük inside.
Freedom of expression
against blinkered thinking
Freedom of thought is usually the first of the fundamental rights of the human being to be targeted by authoritarian regimes, and this applies increasingly the closer it gets to the prototype of totalitarian society. Censorship muzzles the press and journalists are prevented from doing their job, 'till the point in which they are reduced to a mere mouthpiece of the state propaganda. Also the other free expressions of thought are under attack, no one is spared: intellectuals, writers, film directors... even figurative arts are under strict control. Repression heavily curbs all forms of individual sovereignty, such as above all opinions, personal ideas, which represent the worst threat for those who want to impose the "blinkered thought".
In fascist Italy, Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia, in maoist China and in the dictatorships of Latin America like in modern theocracies and new autocratic regimes, troublesome books were banned and even burnt on the squares, and the historian, scientists, scholars, artists who refused to line up were exiled or jailed.
Totalitarianism entered homes and imposed its grip within the family, which was dominated by the fear of being betrayed even by one's dearest ones. A mechanism of self-censorship thus started: in order to survive people preferred giving up not only expressing their views.. but even to conceive them. There was nothing left but settle for the doctrine expressed by the leaders on power.
Those who try to resist, to keep their own individual character and personal freedom, lose everything, but their independence, combined with the resistance of many other in the same conditions, undermines the very foundations of dictatorial regimes, until their collapse.