Friday, September 29, 2006

Community Censorship Plagues the House of Islam
By Bashir Goth

Even worse than the official censorship is censorship imposed by the community, which then becomes self-censorship. Friends, colleagues and even ordinary acquaintances all impose strict censorship rules on me under the guise of being concerned about my personal safety or honor. They demand that I tone down my strong views about sensitive issues.

Freedom of the press in the Muslim world cannot be separated from freedom of expression in general. Journalists, due to their conspicuous public role, risk their lives everyday. They have been targeted and killed in Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Palestine, Somalia, Sudan and other countries. The Muslim world is not a friendly place for freedom of speech at all.

Journalists, creative writers and artists all share the same fate. The writer in a Muslim society is in shackles. Every time I put pen to paper it is a struggle against the tyranny of community-imposed self-censorship. Nowhere is Rousseau's statement that "Man is born free; and everywhere he is in chains," truer than in the House of Islam.
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