Archive for the ‘Freedom of the press’ category

Abbas: Shut Up or I will Arrest You!

July 17, 2017

Abbas: Shut Up or I will Arrest You!, Front Page Magazine, Khaled Abu Toameh, July 17, 2017

Critics say the Palestinian Authority’s (PA) Cyber Crime Law, which permits the imprisonment of Palestinians for “liking” or sharing published material on the internet, paves the way for the emergence of a “police state” in PA-controlled territories in the West Bank. They also argue that the law aims to silence criticism of Abbas and the PA leadership.

“What is laughable is that this law carries penalties that are tougher than those imposed on thieves and sex offenders… the law, in its present form, is designed to limit the freedom of the media and punish people for simple matters.” — Journalist in Ramallah.

This latest dictatorial move in the PA-controlled territories might also serve to remind the international community about the current readiness of the Palestinian leadership for statehood, and what such statehood would look like. In its current incarnation, that state would fit in just fine with its brutal Arab neighbors.

A new Palestinian law combating information technology (IT) crimes has sparked a wave of protests from Palestinian journalists and human rights organizations.

The controversial Cyber Crime Law, signed by Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas on July 11, permits the imprisonment of Palestinians for “liking” or sharing published material on the internet.

Critics say the law paves the way for the emergence of a “police state” in PA-controlled territories in the West Bank. They also argue that the law aims to silence criticism of Abbas and the PA leadership.

The new law comes on the heels of the PA’s recent decision to block more than 20 Palestinian websites accused of publishing comments and articles critical of the PA leadership.

The law was approved by Abbas himself, without review by the Palestinian parliament, known as the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC). The PLC has been paralyzed for the past decade, as a result of the power struggle between Abbas’s PA and Hamas — the Islamist movement that controls the Gaza Strip.

In the absence of parliamentary life, Abbas and his senior officials and advisors have felt free to pass their own laws to serve their interests and promote their personal and political agendas.

In the view of Palestinian journalists and human rights advocates, the new Cyber Crime Law will further restrict freedom of expression, especially on social media, which will now be closely monitored by the PA security forces. They say that the law makes a mockery of the PA leadership’s motto that the “sky is the limit when it comes to freedom of expression.”

Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

The absence of a free and independent media in the PA-controlled territories has prompted many Palestinian journalists, bloggers and political activists to resort to Facebook and Twitter. There, they express their opinions, air their grievances, and discuss taboo issues — such as financial and administrative corruption among the top brass of the Palestinian Authority leadership.

The new law legalizes what has long been happening in the PA-controlled territories, however. PA security forces have long targeted Palestinians who post critical and controversial comments on social media.

Hardly a week passes without two or three Palestinians arrested or summoned for interrogation by the PA security forces regarding a Facebook or Twitter posting or comment. Many Palestinians have been taken into custody for “liking” or sharing a post, article or photo that was deemed offensive to Abbas or a senior PA official.

Yet, the Cyber Crime Law is indeed a watershed in repression: prior to it, no law existed that prohibited Palestinians from expressing their views on social media platforms.

Now, anyone who commits the offense of establishing a website with the intent of disseminating news that could “undermine the safety of the state or its internal or external security” is liable to a prison sentence and fine. The law also aims to punish anyone who promotes such news by “liking” or sharing it.

Palestinian journalists identify themselves as the real targets of the Cyber Crime Law. One journalist in Ramallah remarked:

“What is laughable is that this law carries penalties that are tougher than those imposed on thieves and sex offenders. This is a law with a purely political goal, although it has some positive aspects such as preventing extortion, fraud and impersonation on social media. But the law, in its present form, is designed to limit the freedom of the media and punish people for simple matters.”

Jihad Barakat, a Palestinian journalist who was recently arrested by the Palestinian Authority security forces for filming the motorcade of PA Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah while it was passing through an Israeli military checkpoint, expressed outrage over the new law. He too said that the law was aimed at curbing freedom of expression and intimidating critics of the PA.

“This is a dangerous law,” Barakat complained. “The law should conform with public freedoms and not be used to curb them.” Barakat later was charged with “begging and loitering in a public place in suspicious circumstances.” He was arrested because his filming of the PA prime minister at the checkpoint was considered embarrassing and offensive.

Palestinian journalists and human rights activists point out that the law contains ambiguous references, such as the “undermining or endangering of the safety of the state.”

Journalist Shatha Hammad said that she and her colleagues were not sure what this phrase actually means.

“As journalists, we are confused,” she said. “We don’t know what type of news or postings which are considered — according to this law — a threat to the security of the state.” She also pointed out that the new law comes amid a continued crackdown by the PA on Palestinian journalists and activists over their Facebook postings.

Alarmed by the new law, several Palestinian journalists and writers said it paves the way for the emergence of a repressive regime whose goal is to suppress public freedoms and violate the privacy of people.

“This law is aimed at providing the Palestinian Authority with a legal cover to suppress the voices of its opponents,” explained Palestinian writer Ahmed Al-Najjar.

“In this way, the PA can arrest any journalist or ordinary citizen for publishing an article or posting something on social media that is deemed harmful to the security of the state. This is a bleak scenario that makes it clear that we are facing a repressive police system. This dangerous law drives the final nail in the coffin of public freedoms.”

The Ramallah-based Palestinian human rights organization Al-Haq joined the chorus of critics of the new law restricting freedom of expression. “The law was issued by President Abbas without being presented to the public,” the organization said. “It was issued in a very secretive manner.”

Al-Haq also noted that the PA leadership turned down requests and appeals by Palestinian groups and individuals to receive copies of the new law before it was passed. The organization went on to denounce the law as a “Sword of Damocles” over the head of Palestinian journalists.

The Cyber Crime Law showcases the fact that the Palestinian Authority regime is being run as a one-man show.

This latest dictatorial move in the PA-controlled territories might also serve to remind the international community about the current readiness of the Palestinian leadership for statehood, and what such statehood would look like. In its current incarnation, that state would fit in just fine with its brutal Arab neighbors.

In France, do not dare to criticize Islam

July 6, 2017

In France, do not dare to criticize Islam, Israel National News, Giulio Meotti, July 6, 2017

France, the country where the debate on Islam and integration has been more intensive, is the first target of the Islamic enemies of freedom. If France is now silent, the debate on Islam will be “resolved” all across Europe.

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The controversy began with his intervention in September 2016 on the broadcast “C à vous”. Éric Zemmour was then immediately sued at the 17th Criminal Court of the Paris Court. He must respond to the alleged offense of “incitement to discrimination and hatred against people of Muslim faith”. The lawsuit is promoted by the EuroPalestine Association.

Zemmour is in trouble for a few sentences, such as the ones describing Muslims as those who “have to choose between Islam and France”, saying that “Jihad is a religious duty”, that “Muslims consider jihadists as good Muslims” and that “moderate Islam does not exist”. Ideas. Ideas are debatable in a European pluralist democracy proud of the free circulation of ideas, as well as goods and people. But these ideas are becoming forbidden in France.

Thus, Zemmour was sentenced of incitement to hatred and a fine of 5,000 euros. 8,000 spectators lodged a complaint at the State Council for Audiovisual. It is not the first conviction that Zemmour suffers for his ideas about France and Islam. In 2014, in an interview with the Italian daily Il Corriere della Sera, he said that France’s estimated five million Muslims should be “deported”  to avoid “chaos and civil war”.

In 2007, Charlie Hebdo ended up in court. The French journalists were cleared of any charge, but the jihadists were ready to silence them forever (in three years, not a single cartoon on Mohammed and Islam has been published). In 2013, the magazine Valeurs Actuelles was sentenced for “discrimination” against Muslims for publishing the national symbol Marianne with a Muslim veil (two thousand euros fine). The following year was the turn of Renaud Camus, condemned to pay five thousand euros for “hate instigation” for his theory of “Great Substitution”.

Zemmour was dragged many times to court. A year ago, it was when he gave an interview at Causeur magazine: “I respect the people willing to die for what they believe”, Zemmour said of the Islamic terrorists.

When Zemmour was dragged for the first time to court by the anti-racist and Islamic organizations in 2011, thirty MPs formed the “Freedom of expression collective”: “With the excuse of racism, a journalist is forced to silence when he wants to give an opinion”, said the 28 signatories, who condemned “the tyrants of the doctrine of anti-racism. Voltaire is buried”. Zemmour is only the best known of French journalists and intellectuals dragged into court to respond to the new intellectual offense: “Islamophobia”. There is a list of impressive names, from Georges Bensoussan to Pascal Bruckner.

France, the country where the debate on Islam and integration has been more intensive, is the first target of the Islamic enemies of freedom. If France is now silent, the debate on Islam will be “resolved” all across Europe.

The Media is the Greatest Enemy of a Free Press

July 3, 2017

The Media is the Greatest Enemy of a Free Press, Front Page Magazine, Daniel Greenfield, July 3, 2017

Americans, from the government to the streets, must make it clear that there is no fourth branch of government. Only when the media cartel has been broken, can a free press rise once again.

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The media finally found its hero.

The hero was Brian Karem, the sweaty, surly and unshaven correspondent for Playboy, who whined that Sarah Huckabee-Sanders, the Deputy White House Press Secretary, was “bullying” the abused media.

Vox dubbed Karem “heroic” for defending “CNN’s honor.” The media’s “honor” has fallen so low that it needs defending by the red light district. If the media’s honor gets any lower, its honor will need an assist from the Mafia, Mexican drug cartels, NAMBLA and the Toxic Waste Association of America.

Karem claimed to be inspired by the tantrums of CNN’s Jim Acosta. CNN was particularly upset by the White House denying the network the precious video that it needs to show off its latest Trump attacks.

Off-camera briefings are a good start. Off-media briefings would be even better.

Under the illiterate headline, “We Stood Up to the Administration Today Because Free Press is Crucial,” Karem wrote at Playboy, “The administration supports the First Amendment – just not the people who practice it.”

And the only people entitled to practice the First Amendment, according to the media, own the media. They don’t need to know basic grammar. They don’t need to have their facts right. They just need to be part of huge media conglomerates with left-wing politics whose mission is attacking conservatives.

What got Karem’s goat (and the goats of the rest of the media herd) was that Sanders had given the first question to Breitbart. And conservative sites are not entitled to the protections of the First Amendment.

A free press is crucial. And when the White House fights for a free press by diversifying the press corps, it’s upholding the spirit of a free press that the media cartel is fighting to kill.

The entire “Fake News” outcry that Karem and the rest of his “honorable” colleagues in the media are whining about began with a media plot to censor conservative sites on social media for “Fake News.”

Why does the media believe that Playboy, but not Breitbart or the Daily Caller, have a right to be heard?

“I don’t like the entire institution of the press and free speech being castigated,” Brian Karem wheedled. “The foundation of a free republic is a free press.”

The media has reached rock bottom when a porn magazine’s correspondent starts claiming to be foundation of a free republic.

And when the media enthusiastically agrees.

The foundation of a free republic is free people. Free people have the right to say what they please. They can do it on social media, at a political protest or in the pages of a newspaper. Freedom doesn’t begin and end with the media cartel. Even though the media cartel would like nothing better.

“We can’t take the bullying anymore. It’s undermining the fourth estate, it’s undermining the first amendment,” the Playboy correspondent whined elsewhere.

America isn’t supposed to have a Fourth Estate. That’s France. But that’s what the media is. It’s not a free press. It’s a cartel that leverages control over what was once the free press. Few conservatives are allowed into its ranks. Its partisan mission is to support the left and oppose the right.

The First Amendment gives the media the freedom to do it. Not the institutional authority.

It’s the media that has zero respect for the First Amendment. Its contempt for the religious freedoms of the First Amendment is notorious. But its hostility for the free press is a more recent innovation.

The media has viciously fought the White House’s effort to diversify the press corps by bringing in conservative media. Karem’s tantrum was an outgrowth of that larger battle. Its push for “fact checks” is a cynical effort to embed censorship of conservative media outlets into Facebook and Google News. The media is the greatest enemy of a free press. And it should be treated that way.

It’s an unelected and illegitimate fourth branch of government backed by a handful of powerful interests that insists on setting the national agenda, determining who gets elected and impeaching them if the voters disagree. That is the coup that the fourth branch is busy trying to pull on President Trump.

And the media insists on determining who gets to belong to it. Playboy, yes. Breitbart, DailyCaller and Front Page Magazine, no. Playboy is a heroic defender of the media’s “honor.” Conservative sites must be censored so all that the media deems “Fake News” doesn’t undermine its political agenda.

But the media doesn’t get to decide who can belong to a free press. And what news is fake.

President Trump, Sarah Sanders Huckabee and others have called out the media as “Fake News.” And that outrages the media cartel because it challenges its institutional authority.

The media’s institutional authority shouldn’t just be challenged, it must be broken.

A free press is open to everyone. The media is a closed cartel. A free press has a diversity of opinions. The media has only one. A free press is a dialogue. The media silences dissent, from individuals to conservative outlets. A free press does not attempt to usurp democracy. That is the entire purpose of the media cartel. It manufactures an artificial consensus through mass communications propaganda.

The internet has made the media irrelevant. It also killed the very last of its ethics and journalistic integrity. All that remains are a network of partisan left-wing sites trailed by dead tree paper and dead cable outlets integrated into one heaving mess that connects CNN to ESPN to Playboy to Teen Vogue.

The media cartel is a network of money and power. This illegitimate network intersects with other institutional left-wing networks in the non-profit sector, the political sector, the academic sector and many others. Each network is a thread in a spider web that is choking the life out of this nation. And at the center sit the radical spiders that pull all the strings.

The obscene efforts of the media cartel to wrap itself in the tattered shrouds of the First Amendment are as disgusting as a man who murdered his parents begging the court to have mercy on an orphan.

The media is waging a ruthless campaign to censor its opponents under the guise of “Fake News”. Yet it plays the victim when it is criticized (rather than censored) for the dishonest lies of its partisan agenda.

It has made war on the Constitution. It rejects some parts of the Bill of Rights entirely. It is now engaged in a gargantuan effort to reverse the results of a national election. And when it is called out for its abuses of power, it contends that to criticize it is to undermine the foundation of a free republic.

How can you possibly have a free republic without CNN, MSNBC and the Washington Post? But a better question might be, how can you have a free republic when a leftist media cartel is running it?

The government should not privilege a media cartel or confuse its arrogance with authority.

Off-camera briefings should become off-media briefings. Media outlets that want to act like campus crybullies should be booted. Dot coms that clamor for Net Neutrality but then use media “fact checks” to censor conservative competitors should be called out for their partisan hypocrisy.

The White House’s battle against the media cartel is the best defense of the First Amendment.

Americans, from the government to the streets, must make it clear that there is no fourth branch of government. Only when the media cartel has been broken, can a free press rise once again.