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You Can't Say That
Posted Mar 13,2009
Insults-455-2

Click to expand graphic.

Turkey wants to join the European Union. But the EU has many demands, including a reform of the country’s insult laws, which stifle free speech by making it a crime to deride Turkishness, a public figure, or the republic’s founder, Atatürk.

Turkey is trying to comply. Insulting Turkishness is no longer a crime, though insulting the republic is. And the justice minister must OK any prospective cases. The EU is still deciding. Such laws date to ancient Rome. Akin to libel laws but designed to protect the “honor” of public offi cials, they’re now a political tool. Even if never enforced, they take a toll, says Javier Sierra, who leads a World Press Freedom Committee campaign to quash them. The threat of a fine or jail time can “scare the hell out of a newspaper.” Or a website. In 2007 Thailand made noises about filing suit over an online video depicting its king as a monkey. Marc Silver

Graphic: Oliver Uberti, NG Staff. Source: World Press Freedom Committee
Posted by Marc Silver | Comments (3)
Filed Under: Culture, Wide Angle
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Comments

nzm
Mar 13, 2009 1PM #

"In 2007 Thailand made noises about filing suit over an online video depicting its king as a monkey."

In 2008, Thailand jailed an Australian for including in his 2005 book, a few paragraphs describing the "private life" of the crown prince.

He was pardoned:
http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/world/2009-02/21/content_7499765.htm

The United Arab Emirates is currently reviewing its media law to replace imprisonment with fines for any one who damages the country's reputation.

http://www.thenational.ae/article/20090121/NATIONAL/575371218/1041

http://archive.gulfnews.com/nation/Media/10276842.html

I suppose that you could see the latter as a step in the right direction - if you were wearing rose-coloured glasses!

Kev
Mar 13, 2009 1PM #

Hey, what about those ridiculous "Free Speech Zones" that were set up to make sure everyone who disagreed with GWB were contained in a set area where they wouldn't offend GWB?

I thought that was the most egregious violation of the concept of free speech in recent years. Especially since the whole country was supposed to be a Free Speech Zone.

jeremy
Mar 13, 2009 1PM #

Kev, that was hardly an infraction against free speech, they weren't arrested for anything they said, nor were they stopped from saying it. Mostly it was just to keep them from overrunning public spaces. In light of the fact that some of these protests have often led to violence and property damage, I think it was only prudent.

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