South Africa: Post the State of the Nation Address

South Africans must stand together in multitudes to hold politicians accountable for disrespecting our democratic institutions before the whole world.

Our freedom was won through the collective efforts of millions of in our country. We need to stand together in our multitudes, even now, to safeguard our democracy, says Brand SA. (Oupa Nkosi, M&G)

COMMENT

Many of us would have eagerly awaited President Zumas State of the Nation Address last Thursday 12 February. We may have had different reasons although we would have wanted to hear the President pronounce on the progress made in South Africa and the way forward for the next year.

The evening may have concluded differently for many of us.

What the evening showed is that undoubtedly freedom of speech and expression is alive and robust and that our democracy is vibrant and well entrenched. It also shows that citizens are aware of their rights and are able to express them.

What should concern us though is that Parliament, which is one of the principle institutions mandated to safeguard our democracy, has in the expression of these rights, become a terrain of struggle that sees South Africans on both sides of the debate on our freedom of expression.

Political parties are elected by the people of our country to represent our interests in Parliament. We must ask whether this is being achieved as we deliberate on the work of Parliament.

I am confident that work that impacts positively on the lives of citizens of our country is being done at Parliament, but what should concern us is that we hear less of the work being done and more about the issues between the personalities doing the work. The expression of these issues between personalities is increasingly overshadowing the work of this principal institution of our democracy. Some of this is impacting negatively on the reputation of our country and our institutions.

Can we really serve the will of the people by bringing one of the principle institutions of our democracy into disrepute?

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South Africa: Post the State of the Nation Address

Aamir Khan disapproves AIB Roast, KJo reacts

Saturday, 21 February 2015 19:08

PK actor Aamir Khan usually has strong opinions about freedom of speech and liberty but this time he has marked boundaries to the speech by lashing out at the AIB knockout roast. He disapproves the content presented in the controversial comedy show.

According to Indian media reports, Aamir Khan said, My opinion is that it was a violent show. Karan (Johar) and Arjun (Kapoor) are my friends and I scolded them and told them that I was not impressed with it. If you think 25 abuses can impress me, then youre wrong. Im not 14 anymore; abusive language doesnt excite me. If you can make me laugh without hurting anyone that Ill appreciate. I dont think jokes about the colour of skin or ones sexuality are funny at all.

Have they broken a law or have they not, I am not going into that technicality. If they have broken a law, they should face the consequences like you and I. The law is for all of us. If they haven’t broken the law they should have gone scot-free. I believe that the law should take its course, he added.

While Bollywood ace director Karan Johar who was an active part of the show reacts on Khans statement and said that he was taken aback by Aamir publicly condemning the show as he is close to both Aamir and his wife, Kiran Rao and was not expecting him to express his disapproval so openly, media reported.

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Aamir Khan disapproves AIB Roast, KJo reacts

Alex Jones is Right! Snowden is Right! Government Crooks Via FaceBook! – Video


Alex Jones is Right! Snowden is Right! Government Crooks Via FaceBook!
Alex Jones at Info Wars, Snowden, and others have warned us about the NSA, CIA, and other Governmental Crooks listening to private calls, emails, and shutting down freedom of speech. I just…

By: Evangelist K L Rich

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Alex Jones is Right! Snowden is Right! Government Crooks Via FaceBook! – Video

Jailed journalist concerned about freedom of speech

Al Jazeera journalist Peter Greste, who along with his colleagues Mohamed Fahmy and Bahar Mohamed, was awarded a special judges prize by the Royal Television Society. Greste, Fahmy and Mohamed had been jailed by the Egyptian government for threatening national security. Photograph: Royal Television Society

The Al Jazeera journalist released from Egyptian prison at the start of February has said he is deeply concerned for the future of freedom of speech.

In an interview with The Irish Times, Peter Greste said he feels his case fits within a chilling narrative which includes the beheadings by Islamic State, the draconian responses of some governments, the Charlie Hebdo attacks and the killings in Denmark at the weekend.

The Australian-born journalist was sentenced to 7-years imprisonment in December 2013 by the Egyptian government for threatening national security, alongside colleagues Mohamed Fahmy and Bahar Mohamed. Huge international pressure followed the sentence and he was eventually deported to Australia after more than 400 days in prison, including a month in solitary confinement.

Greste said the experience has made him feel even more responsibility. He added that he believes the mainstream media is more important than ever as it has the ability to conduct conversations across different communities.

He feels such dialogue is crucial to peace and he compared global conflicts to those of a family, saying that you have to keep these conversations going rather than letting someone disappear. The situation now in media was that journalists were forced to avoid certain types of stories which is incredibly dangerous.

Topsy turvy

Greste, who has been covering events in east Africa and the Middle East for the last 20 years, said everything had felt topsy turvy since his release and was now quite overwhelming. In prison, he and his colleagues had been very careful to develop a routine where he said the biggest danger was your own head.

He said that he had practised meditation every day and ran up and down a 30m corridor outside a cell for an hour each day bringing his total up to between 8 and 10km each day. He had also acquired material to study for an MA in international relations.

Last night Greste, Fahmy, and Mohamed were awarded a special judges prize by the Royal Television Society for services to journalism. Fahmy and Mohamed were released on bail last week and face a re-trial on Monday. Hopes are high that they will secure a full release.

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Jailed journalist concerned about freedom of speech

Fan claims municipal police violating freedom of speech

Deputy mayor defends actions

At least one Cataract fan is upset with the way municipal enforcement officers handled a couple of boisterous fans recently. However, Grand Falls-Windsor deputy mayor Barry Manuel stands behind the officers actions and says its their job to curb situations that they feel could possibly turn volatile.

In a letter to The Advertiser, fan Evan Penton said the actions of the municipal enforcement officers at the game between the Cataracts and the Caribous on Feb. 7 were, a complete violation against freedom of speech as well as an abuse of power from a local cop.

During the third period of the game, Penton said, two die hard fans were very vocal.

The men were chirping the opposing players and fans all night long, he said.

However, according to Penton, the men did not say anything vulgar or use curse words in their relentless attempts to heckle the other team.

While Penton thought that two of the fans had been removed from their seats, Blaine Piercey (one of the fans approached by the municipal enforcement officers) said it may have looked that way, but its not how things unfolded.

Piercey said he was asked by two municipal enforcement officers to come down to talk to the boss.

Thats what he did, he said.

He said that I was swearing and that its not tolerated, Piercey stated. I said I wasnt swearing, and I can prove it. He said that somebody in my section said that I hope that fellow drops down on the ice and chokes to death. I told him I never said that, and I dont think anybody said that.

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Fan claims municipal police violating freedom of speech

Jailed Al Jazeera journalist concerned about freedom of speech

Al Jazeera journalist Peter Greste, who along with his colleagues Mohamed Fahmy and Bahar Mohamed, was awarded a special judges prize by the Royal Television Society. Greste, Fahmy and Mohamed had been jailed by the Egyptian government for threatening national security. Photograph: Royal Television Society

The Al Jazeera journalist released from Egyptian prison at the start of February has said he is deeply concerned for the future of freedom of speech.

In an interview with The Irish Times, Peter Greste said he feels his case fits within a chilling narrative which includes the beheadings by Islamic State, the draconian responses of some governments, the Charlie Hebdo attacks and the killings in Denmark at the weekend.

The Australian-born journalist was sentenced to 7-years imprisonment in December 2013 by the Egyptian government for threatening national security, alongside colleagues Mohamed Fahmy and Bahar Mohamed. Huge international pressure followed the sentence and he was eventually deported to Australia after more than 400 days in prison, including a month in solitary confinement.

Greste said the experience has made him feel even more responsibility. He added that he believes the mainstream media is more important than ever as it has the ability to conduct conversations across different communities.

He feels such dialogue is crucial to peace and he compared global conflicts to those of a family, saying that you have to keep these conversations going rather than letting someone disappear. The situation now in media was that journalists were forced to avoid certain types of stories which is incredibly dangerous.

Topsy turvy

Greste, who has been covering events in east Africa and the Middle East for the last 20 years, said everything had felt topsy turvy since his release and was now quite overwhelming. In prison, he and his colleagues had been very careful to develop a routine where he said the biggest danger was your own head.

He said that he had practised meditation every day and ran up and down a 30m corridor outside a cell for an hour each day bringing his total up to between 8 and 10km each day. He had also acquired material to study for an MA in international relations.

Last night Greste, Fahmy, and Mohamed were awarded a special judges prize by the Royal Television Society for services to journalism. Fahmy and Mohamed were released on bail last week and face a re-trial on Monday. Hopes are high that they will secure a full release.

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Jailed Al Jazeera journalist concerned about freedom of speech

Greenpeace activist refutes govt charge of being anti-national

New Delhi, Feb 19: Greenpeace activist Priya Pillai on Thursday refuted in Delhi High Court, government’s charge of being anti-national by maintaining that she was against a company and her off-loading from a London-bound aircraft amounted to curtailing freedom of speech and expression.

The government, however, said “she had plans to testify on the alleged violations of forest rights of indigenous tribal people in the Mahan coal block area” of Madhya Pradesh at a meeting with the British all-party parliamentary group.

Countering this, senior advocate Indira Jaising, appearing for Pillai, said “simply because one acts to enhance interests of certain group or community, it cannot be deduced as anti-national activity or secessionism.

“Pillai espouses the rights of tribals who are a part of the Indian Union. I (Pillai) am against a company (Essar) not against the nation”, she told a bench of Justice Rajiv Shakdher which reserved its judgement.

The judge said he would pass the order on the plea in which Pillai claimed that her right to freedom of speech and expression was being curtailed by an unlawful order of the executive.

37-year-old Pillai was stopped from flying to London on January 11 on the basis of a look-out-circular (LOC) issued by Intelligence Bureau (IB).

She has sought permission to travel to London to make a presentation before British MPs on alleged human rights violation at Mahan in Madhya Pradesh which, she claimed, was the reason for her being taken down from the flight at the IGI airport.

Justifying the government’s decision, Additional Solicitor General (ASG) Sanjay Jain had argued that the situation had “potential for mischief” against India’s economic interests.

The ASG had claimed that diplomatic relations were “fluctuating” and existing good relations were no guarantee against “something undesirable” later.

Jaising in her rebuttal to ASG submissions contended that disallowing Pillai from travelling to London was “completely unlawful and malafide and without any authority of law” and demanded quashing of the LOC against her.

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Greenpeace activist refutes govt charge of being anti-national

Freedom Of Speech Naam Ki Koi Chiz Hoti Hai – Alia Bhatt On AIB Controversy – Video


Freedom Of Speech Naam Ki Koi Chiz Hoti Hai – Alia Bhatt On AIB Controversy
Alia Bhatt was asked about the AIB Knockout Controversy at the recent event. Quite smartly Alia answered the journos question saying, “Freedom of Speech naam…

By: Koimoi

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Freedom Of Speech Naam Ki Koi Chiz Hoti Hai – Alia Bhatt On AIB Controversy – Video

Letters to the editor: We must do more to stop terrorists

These people did nothing wrong but exercise their basic rights: the freedom of assembly, freedom of speech and freedom of religion.

It used to be the case that you actually had to blaspheme to become a target of Islamist extremists. Now, apparently, you just have to talk about those principles to arouse the murderous intent of those who disagree with our way of life. Or it could simply be because of who you are, if you happen to be a European Jew, such as the murdered security guard who protected the central synagogue.

While it is difficult to halt lone wolf attacks of this kind, much more must be done by political leaders to tackle this growing threat in Europe. We must move the climate of discussion away from condemnation to action, and how to prevent its recurrence. If we fail to do so, we can expect further attacks to occur. Dr Alan Mendoza, executive director, The Henry Jackson Society

The latest terrorist outrages in Copenhagen, shortly after similar events in Paris, confirm the sad reality of the role that Jews and anti-Semitism play in jihadist ideology and terrorist targeting.

Each terrorist attack raises the need and the demand for further security, and so Jewish communities have reacted by implementing ever more onerous security measures. These have become a sad part of of Jewish life but they should never be regarded as normal.

Across Europe, governments and police have reacted in various ways, with Britain generally regarded as the best in nearly every aspect. UK politicians could not have been stronger in their condemnations of anti-Semitism. But this sits in stark contrast to the profound silence of many civil society groups, who ought to oppose such hatreds but seem paralysed from doing so to any remotely meaningful extent. Mark Gardner, Community Security Trust

Reactions to these sorts of heinous killings must be measured. In its crudest form, an attack such as this craves speculation and hysteria. It is, in a sense, a most ugly form of attention seeking.

We need no more reminders of Islamic States dangerous social media presence. Guessing whether it was a copycat massacre in the style of Charlie Hebdo just fuels Islamic States strategy of saturating the news media.

Let the security services deal with the mechanics of the attack, and let the public focus on what we can do to prevent such monstrous events in the future namely through standing in solidarity against extremism of all kinds with all those who despise such barbarism. Terrorists seek to divide us. Let us not allow that to happen. Nazish Khan, researcher, Quilliam

This week Which? published its annual rail passenger satisfaction survey. The bottom six operators in the survey all serve London, scoring less than 50 per cent overall for passenger satisfaction.

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Letters to the editor: We must do more to stop terrorists

Duck Dynasty's Phil Robertson to Receive Freedom of Speech Award

Phil Robertson’s comments about same-sex marriage and LGBT people have earned him a freedom of speech award.

Later this month, the Duck Dynasty star will receive the Andrew Breitbart Defender of the First Amendment Award from Citizens United at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in National Harbor, Md., according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Jesse Jackson: Phil Robertson’s comments are “more offensive” than Rosa Parks incident

In 2013, Robertson said in an interview with GQ that he believed homosexuality to be a sin, and later said that he believes AIDS is God’s punishment for immorality. In the wake of his comments, A&E suspended him from the network, but lifted the suspension after backlash from many Duck Dynasty fans.

“Even when the entire mainstream media demanded he disavow his beliefs and attempted to have him fired from his own hit show for expressing these beliefs, he stood firm in his faith,” Citizens United President David Bossie said, according to THR.

Phil Robertson continues to defend controversial comments

Added Robertson: “When one does not have the freedom to speak out loud and anywhere what one believes, freedom is dead.”

He will receive the award on Feb. 27.

Do you think Robertson deserves an award for his remarks?

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Duck Dynasty's Phil Robertson to Receive Freedom of Speech Award

TOI debate on freedom of speech wows Kolkata – The Times …

Freedom of expression is a dangerous term these days. Being committed to its cause can get you killed, like the ‘Charlie Hebdo’ cartoonists. Or, you could be hounded so viciously you might even announce your own death as a writer, like Perumal Murugan. And you can be forced to go underground, like the bold woman editor of an Urdu newspaper. The list is growing alarmingly every week.

But there’s been a passionate counter to this narrative, too. Many insist that all freedoms are relative and they must be enjoyed with restraint and responsibility, especially in matters of faith.

Which is why there couldn’t have been a better topic than “Should freedom of expression be an absolute right?” for The Times of India’s annual debate, Converse. And which is why the city’s best and brightest turned up Friday evening at the Tollygunge Club to hear some of the wittiest and sharpest minds in the country lock horns and trade jibes on the subject and perhaps clear the noise in their own heads.

Those batting for absolute freedom were activist lawyer and AAP member Prashant Bhushan, Congress leader and lawyer Manish Tewari and standup comic Sorabh Pant. The other side had BJP national spokesperson and columnist M J Akbar, journalist and humour writer Bachi Karkaria and West Bengal Trinamool Congress general-secretary Mahua Moitra. Arindam Sengupta, national executive editor, Times of India, was the moderator.

The weather was almost made to order. And the setting an expansive 40 foot by 24 foot stage with seductive profile lights was perfect for, as Anil Mukerji, the club’s CEO said in his welcome note, some “robust cerebral jousting”.

It all began with Bhushan’s opening remark, “I don’t hold the position that freedom of speech is an absolute right. And that there should not be any restriction on it whatsoever. But I do believe that freedom of speech and the right to free speech is the most important right that the Constitution gives us and that right is absolutely essential for the survival of any healthy democracy.” He pointed out that the Constitution says there can be “reasonable restrictions” on this right on grounds of security of the state, public order, friendly relations with foreign states, contempt of court, defamation and morality. The core of his argument was: “Free speech can only be gagged if there is incitement to violence or public disorder.

And under no other circumstances can it be a gag even if it is defamatory, or even if it is offensive.” The opposition, however, latched on to his opening remark to underline the inconsistency of his position. Mitra quipped, “I thought you should be sitting on this side.” And Akbar had everyone in splits saying, “How can I interject when I agree with him completely?” What followed was a perfect demonstration of how a serious topic needn’t be hostage to seriousness. Everyone was in splits when Karkaria referred to Modi’s infamous suit as “a pinstriped selfie” and said cocky BJP politicos were getting “mufflered”. On a more serious note, she pointed out that many communities throughout history Christians, Jews, Muslims, Sikhs, women, homosexuals had been victimized because people had used absolute freedom of speech to incite mob frenzy against them. Referring to the Holocaust, Karkaria said Jews ended up in the gas chamber because Goebbels was allowed to spew poison with his propaganda. “There is always a thin line between perfect and legitimate freedom of speech and its abuse by those who wish to assert their powers. All civilized and sophisticated discourse is about thin lines. Thick line are only for thick people,” she concluded.

Bhushan’s interjection was, the right to speech must be protected as long as there is no clear incitement to violence or public disorder, even if it is something which may sound grossly offensive to somebody else. “Otherwise, you are on that slippery slope where every kind of attempt to reform or to challenge the orthodoxy is going to be gagged,” he said.

The stage was set for Tewari’s insightful and measured presentation. He said, rather unambiguously, that freedom of expression should be an absolute right. “Freedom is indivisible. The moment you splice it up, it ceases to be free,” he said. The Congress leader quoted John Milton, referred to US Congress’ first amendment, the Indian Constitution and the European human rights convention to explain that as history progressed, mankind has become repressive rather than progressive on the issue of freedom of speech. He said this freedom must include the right to offend. “You can have a quarrel with `Charlie Hebdo’ but that does not mean you go and massacre them. That is not a remedy against a perceived or real offence … Religion possibly requires the most rigorous debate and the most scrutiny in our society.”

Tewari recalled his days as the Union minister of information and broadcasting, when he wres tled with the problem of drawing lines. “If I decide to draw the line right here, there may be a religious bigot who would decide to draw it more to the right.

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TOI debate on freedom of speech wows Kolkata – The Times …

Inna Shevchenko: I survived the Copenhagen attacks – but now I live in fear of death

To be honest, I had imagined something like the Copenhagen attack could happen. The shots began while I was on stage with Swedish artist Lars Vilks, giving a speech, somewhat appropriately, on the illusion of freedom of speech. In fact I had just finished saying that "people will always say 'we are in favour of freedom of speech but…'" when I heard the shots.

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Inna Shevchenko: I survived the Copenhagen attacks – but now I live in fear of death