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The Surprising Truth About Internet Censorship In the Middle East

samzenpus posted about a year and a half ago | from the just-as-bad dept.

Censorship 112

An anonymous reader writes "Internet censorship is common in conservative majority-Muslim countries, but it may have more to do with politics and technology than with religion. I.e., Iran is not so different from Cuba and China. From the article: 'in an attempt to uncover the various reasons — and ways — that countries clamp down on Internet freedoms, the U.S.-based watchdog Freedom House investigated the issue in 47 nations and released a study of its findings this year. Employing a number of factors ranging from blogger arrests to politically motivated website blockades, the study ranked each country according to its degree of online freedom. And, as it happens, Islamic countries do not stand out for their degree of censorship.'"

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112 comments

No shit (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41649773)

No shit, Sherlock. Dictators control communications to strengthen their power.

However, when religious leaders are encouraging this, they are guilty.

Re:No shit (4, Insightful)

fustakrakich (1673220) | about a year and a half ago | (#41649915)

Religious leaders are just another dictator. Religion is only another tool to accomplish the same thing as the politics that teach and exploit strong feelings of strong nationalism/culturalism. The real tool of abuse in all cases is psychology and the sociopaths work their magic on a person from the first day of his/her life..

Re:No shit (4, Insightful)

skipkent (1510) | about a year and a half ago | (#41650283)

Religious leaders are just another dictator. Religion is only another tool to accomplish the same thing as the politics that teach and exploit strong feelings of strong nationalism/culturalism. The real tool of abuse in all cases is psychology and the sociopaths work their magic on a person from the first day of his/her life..

not quite. religion is voluntary. that's the problem with the political sphere: if dictators ruled by voluntary consent of the people, they wouldn't be dictators, would they?

Re:No shit (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41650471)

Yes, totally voluntary. All you have to do is say "You know what, I don't believe in Allah at all, I'm just going to life my life freely" and all the Muslims in the Middle East will take your decision respectfully and allow you to go about your business.

Re:No shit (1, Troll)

realityimpaired (1668397) | about a year and a half ago | (#41651223)

You are making a point about apostasy, which is fair enough, but most of the muslims have no problem with my not believing in Allah, because I am not and have never been a muslim. There is a line between not following a faith and leaving one.

Extremists are another ball game entirely, but why is it that when americans think of muslims they think of terrorists, but when they think of christians they don't immediately equate with David Koresh or Theodore Kaczynski?

Re:No shit (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41651345)

You are making a point about apostasy, which is fair enough, but most of the muslims have no problem with my not believing in Allah, because I am not and have never been a muslim.

And it's great that you were born so lucky. If your parents were muslim and you wanted to not believe, 33% of the UK's muslim would want you dead [guardian.co.uk].

Not that your comment is even accurate on sharia. Muslims do not have any problem at all with not believing in allah. Not for muslims, not for non-muslims. However they will want to kill you for
1) any perceived insult to "the prophet" (insult allah all you want, another indication that islam's "god" is just a cruel stupid little medieval dictator)
2) any perceived insult to muslims as a group
3) not paying for their war on non-muslims (yes, you read that right. Also known as jizya)

Please note that this is not an exhaustive list. In particular, once they demanded any non-muslim give up their firstborn son in a system called "devshirme [wikipedia.org]". Or just start a genocide for no reason in particular. Happened more than 100 times in muslim history, including by the paedophile prophet himself, both on muslims and infidels for mostly imaginary reasons, so please don't claim this is somehow not part of islam.

Re:No shit (4, Informative)

xenobyte (446878) | about a year and a half ago | (#41655395)

They're also isolationists... According to surveys here in Denmark, most non-western immigrants gets nicely mixed in with the native population in just a few generations - mixed marriages with both male and female immigrants - with the significant exception of Muslim immigrants. Even though they're one of the biggest non-western immigrant group, the number of marriages that does not involve a conversion to Islam by the native part can be counted on one hand. It just almost never happens. The actual numbers are 4-5 between a male immigrant and a female native, and ZERO where the immigrant is female. Even the numbers involving conversion are heavily skewed - while there's hundreds of male immigrants marrying female natives converted to Islam, the number of female immigrants marrying a danish native converted man are still less than a dozen. Most female immigrants basically marry either fellow immigrants or men from the homeland.

This all means that the integration of Muslims is bound to fail. And has failed consistently all over western Europe.

As a nice counterpoint, Asian non-Muslim women married to Danish native men are actually the biggest group by far within the mixed marriage community. And these Asian-Danish families are usually well integrated with higher-than-average income, higher-than-average educational level and zero ghetto issues (gangs etc.). The asian immigrants work and learn the native language. They dress like the natives too, don't make a fuss about weird dietary 'rules' and interact quite normally with everybody else, no matter what gender etc.

So, it's obvious to everyone that what the Muslims are doing is wrong. They either need to do what other immigrants are doing or go somewhere else. It can't continue like it has been. The tensions are getting stronger and it will end badly and then go to worse.

Re:No shit (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41656067)

So, it's obvious to everyone that what the Muslims are doing is wrong. They either need to do what other immigrants are doing or go somewhere else. It can't continue like it has been. The tensions are getting stronger and it will end badly and then go to worse.

So you are saying that it's "wrong" if they don't want to assimilate ? Nice to meet you, borg. :)

Re:No shit (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41655927)

Why is this a crime to mention and talk about holocaust?

Re:No shit (2)

Yacoob Al-Atawi (1192531) | about a year and a half ago | (#41656479)

I think you misunderstand the intent of the Jizya. Jizya (for non-muslims) and Zakat (for muslims) are merely the Islamic version of the taxation system.

Re:No shit (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41651363)

Because how many "Koresh"s and "Kaczynski"s have there been compared to how many Muslim terrorists have there been? False equivalence and "equal time" to every issue is tiresome.

Re:No shit (3, Insightful)

realityimpaired (1668397) | about a year and a half ago | (#41652331)

There's a billion Muslims in the world today. Billion, with a B. If they were really as violent and fucked up as the average American seems to believe, we would have turned the planet into a glass-floored parking lot by now.

Re:No shit (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41654103)

They're trying, they're just incompetent.

Re:No shit (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41655393)

Question: Why are there billions of muslims in the world
Answer: Because each muslim gives birth to 6 muslim babies, and no muslim baby is allowed to leave the religion without being killed.

Question: Reason why the planet hasn't been turned into a glass-floored parking lot
Answer: America. And other non-muslims.

Re:No shit (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41655587)

You may want to walk around in a few muslim countries, and check how it looks outside of tourist reserves. Just for kicks.

This ironically also explains why the whole planet is not a glass-floored parking lot. Learning nuclear physics effectively is not as easy in what we would consider a warzone stricken with dead bodies and constant violence for stupidly small offences.

Re:No shit (1)

gl4ss (559668) | about a year and a half ago | (#41655731)

most of muslim holy wars were/are against other muslims.
just like most christian religious differences wars were against other christians.

and ALL of those wars were/are political.

this surprising truth is stupid since it's all about politics

Re:No shit (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41655363)

FUCK YOU

Re:No shit (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41656187)

I don't think of terrorists. But the media I have followed has directed my beliefs such that I don't feel Muslims are as open minded about freedom of religion.

Some thoughts:
I am considered an Infidel for not believing in Mohammad.
Freedom of religion indicates that you are allowed to falter in your faith without fear of death.
The Muslim faith has never condemned suicide bombers, not even for their killing of innocents. To my knowledge they are still considered heroes and granted the privileges of those who died while fighting the jihad.

The christian religion has much blood on it's hands as well that it has never to my knowledge publicly repented or apologized for.

Re:No shit (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41659823)

I don't remember any American Christians rioting, killing people, or issuing a fatwah over the "Piss Christ" incident.

Re:No shit (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41655493)

Well actually most if not all the people you live amongst will respect your choice. I know some middle eastern atheist, they are not harrased by their neighbours or neighbourhood, but by the government, because the government knows they can only control the crowd if they can put Allah behind their words...

Your ignorance does not reflect well on you.

Voluntary? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41655511)

For most of human history people living in an area where a religion was a dominant --um, thing, no, force, well had a dominant influence it was understood, or believed, that a person was born into that religion. If their parents were of that religion they were born into it. This idea of changing one's religion would seem very alien to a Jew in Warsaw 100 years ago, a Buddhist in parts of SE Asia, a Hindu still today, a Lutheran in parts of Scandanavia....etc. etc.

For many people in the world today the issue is not can they voluntarily change or choose their religion, but rather can the idea of changing their religion even be thought. Not external censorship, not internal censorship, but it would be so alien as to simply be "unthinkable."

Re:No shit (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41650557)

not quite. religion is voluntary. that's the problem with the political sphere: if dictators ruled by voluntary consent of the people, they wouldn't be dictators, would they?

And when the state religion's chosen leader lost the last election in Iran, they simply dictated that he won. Religious control of Iran is not through voluntary consent now (although it was when they kicked out the Shah). Or look at what the Taliban does in Afghanistan. Following their line of worship is not voluntary.

You also might want to check out things like the Europe of the 1600s. In particular, look at how the Spanish Inquisition forced Jews and Muslims to convert to Catholicism. Also look at what happened when a Protestant power took over governorship of a Catholic region or vice versa.

Freedom of religion is more the exception than the rule.

Re:No shit (3, Insightful)

fustakrakich (1673220) | about a year and a half ago | (#41650717)

It appears you never read, or if you did, you never understood the studies, and the notion of cultural, national, and peer pressure, etc that are applied from birth, and how they affect your decision making process. Please, try to get through psych 101, at least. And don't feel too bad, you are only one of the multitude that believe as you do.

Re:No shit (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41651291)

It's not voluntary when you believe your religion is correct and all others should be put to death for being infidels. So no, religion is not voluntary. It's decreed and taugtht.

Re:No shit (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41652081)

Yes, religion is voluntary. That's why no-one is taught religious practices until they are 18 and can give consent. Wait, what?

Re:No shit (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41655593)

But let's not forget the difference here. There's a difference between having kids learn about religion, without asking if they want to (pretty much every religion), and having them killed in a despicable cruel way by a mob of neighbors if they choose wrong (islam).

I mean if we drop that distinction then stalin's reeducation camps were just the same as adult education in the united states. Not that socialists were all that prudent about never sending kids there.

Voluntary? When you're born, you're inculcated (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41655429)

Before you get the free will of childhood, you're circumcised or baptised. You are described as a $RELIGION child not a child of $RELIGION parents.

You DO NOT GET a choice when you're born to religious parents.

Re:Voluntary? When you're born, you're inculcated (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41655727)

Before you get the free will of childhood, you're circumcised or baptised. You are described as a $RELIGION child not a child of $RELIGION parents.

You DO NOT GET a choice when you're born to religious parents.

I sort of agree with you, but human beings always have an ideology. There does not exist a human being that does not have an ideology. So, this is a moot point, like stating a computer does not choose it's own operating system : someone chooses for him (if we actually create AGI, this will become a similar problem). But an empty computer, like an empty human, does contains neither the information nor any vague idea of a method for choosing this, and a choice will be made (assuming the child grows into an adult).

The problem with a discussion like this is then that the questioner proceeds to put his own ideology on a pedestal as being somehow immune to the problems that plague other ideologies.

And there's the issue that kids generally first become extremists before they become more comfortable, more integrated individuals. This is probably the direct result of the learning process : first learn the general rules, then learn the massive number of exceptions to them. Of course, only applying the simplest of rules, well that's pretty much what extremism is. Often kids get irritated with the number of practical exceptions and refuse to apply at least some of them.

Given these facts, which ideology would you really want others to teach their kids ? I mean, let's get real here, it seems obvious to me that you really don't want large numbers of kids being taught into socialists, muslims or animists. You also don't want extremist atheists imho, This of course leaves a few options open.

I mean you can argue all you want about humanism, but I shudder to think the result of asking a kid whether humanism makes sense, because I cannot make sense of it myself. If I am an atheist/humanist, and I would find it somehow advantageous to kill someone specific, why shouldn't I just kill them ? There are very clear cut answers in virtually every religion, so why can't a humanist just tell me the answer point blank ? A kid, of course, will not be fooled, will not argue, and simply assume there is no answer. Btw : the golden rule does not apply in humanism since dead people obviously don't take revenge, nor do other humanists. Humanism only makes sense if you assume a 99%+ effective police force following a Christian ruleset, but of course, that reduces it to "I don't feel like going to church" Christianity.

Re:No shit (4, Insightful)

jbwolfe (241413) | about a year and a half ago | (#41650119)

In a Theocracy, there's little difference between the government and religion. The policies that are restricting internet freedom are colored by religious dogma. Whatever reinforces political power is preserving the divine power:

"From the perspective of the theocratic government, "God himself is recognized as the head" of the state".

Re:No shit (1)

Luckyo (1726890) | about a year and a half ago | (#41650761)

Theocracy means religion(religious) is the ruling political power. So pretty much "duh".

Re:No shit (1)

Stormthirst (66538) | about a year and a half ago | (#41655941)

Much like America then. And before someone whines that there's a separation of church and state consider this:

There are very few openly atheist members of Congress. Pete Stark [wikipedia.org] is one.
You have "In God We Trust" on your money
You have "One nation under God" in your pledge of allegiance.

Re:No shit (2)

beelsebob (529313) | about a year and a half ago | (#41650975)

Well, even more no shit... Religion is a method of people in power controlling people not in power... big woop.

Wrong question -- (4, Insightful)

wealthychef (584778) | about a year and a half ago | (#41649785)

This is a false dichotomy. The question is whether religion leads to oppressive politics and low technology, not whether oppressive politics are more correlated with oppression and low technology than religion.

Re:Wrong question -- (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41649825)

This is funny it's like when yours state department or whatever makes the reports about the countries where civil rights are disrespected but forgets about guantanamo...

Come on you talk about censorship when your MAFIAAs are censoring even google with bogus dmca's... look in the mirror before talking about other nations please thank you

Re:Wrong question -- (5, Insightful)

wealthychef (584778) | about a year and a half ago | (#41649847)

What the hell are you talking about? I never defended the USA's idiocy, nor did I talk about other nations. I simply said that instead of comparing religion to oppression, we should understand that religion leads to oppression. The USA is highly religious and because of that we do idiotic things all the time. Here is an example. [wordpress.com]

Re:Wrong question -- (4, Insightful)

gmuslera (3436) | about a year and a half ago | (#41649983)

More than religion, culture. Some things seen as unappropiate by a culture, be a religion behind or not, are censored, banned, or even the infractors are in some ways punished, The difference is not so evident when you form part of that culture, and that culture is somewhat successfully pushed over a good amount of countries. There maybe some i.e. biological backing for some cultural opinion, but that most accepts the ban is mostly a cultural thing, not knowledge (and are accepted some things that should be banned by the same kind of biological backing). Between the examples in western cultures you have nudity, "soft" drugs, less than 18yo sex, political positions and a lot more.

If you ask a fish if is not disturbed by all that water, it would ask: what water?

Re:Wrong question -- (1)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | about a year and a half ago | (#41650239)

Between the examples in western cultures you have nudity, "soft" drugs, less than 18yo sex, political positions and a lot more.

How exactly are these things specific to "western cultures", whether by their presence or by their absence? You find these things all around the world - although of these, political positions are kind of absent among many native tribes, and even then, they tend to have a lot of the remaining stuff.

Re:Wrong question -- (1)

gmuslera (3436) | about a year and a half ago | (#41650449)

The reference to western cultures was mostly to point to the things accepted by probably most of the readers today, some of them even were accepted 50 or more years ago in western cultures. Not sure how else to name today's almost global culture without dismissing the other valid cultures that are around today, local or not.

Re:Wrong question -- (5, Insightful)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | about a year and a half ago | (#41650021)

The USA is highly religious

Sure, but the people who make important policy decisions are, in all likelihood, not very devout. I suspect that the truly devout believers never make it beyond state-level politics, and that even there they are a minority. The kind of people who get votes from devout Christians in America are people who understand how to exploit religion as a way to rally political supporters -- not exactly the sort of thing that religions teach people to do (find me the holy book that says, "You can trick people into thinking they have a moral obligation to support your political ambitions" and I will be impressed).

Re:Wrong question -- (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41650211)

The USA is highly religious

Sure, but the people who make important policy decisions are, in all likelihood, not very devout. I suspect that the truly devout believers never make it beyond state-level politics, and that even there they are a minority. The kind of people who get votes from devout Christians in America are people who understand how to exploit religion as a way to rally political supporters -- not exactly the sort of thing that religions teach people to do (find me the holy book that says, "You can trick people into thinking they have a moral obligation to support your political ambitions" and I will be impressed).

Erm...... Mit Romney a committed Mormon? George W Bush, a born again Christian? How many times have they argued and taken action in God's name? Bush went to war citing God's work.

Re:Wrong question -- (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41650745)

Right, because politicians are always honest about their beliefs and motivations, and Democrats like Obama don't constantly campaign about the importance of their faith and use the Bible to support laws forcing people to give money to poor people.

Re:Wrong question -- (1)

phantomfive (622387) | about a year and a half ago | (#41650789)

Sure, but the people who make important policy decisions are, in all likelihood, not very devout.

That will change if Romney wins.

Re:Wrong question -- (3, Insightful)

Beetle B. (516615) | about a year and a half ago | (#41654035)

Sure, but the people who make important policy decisions are, in all likelihood, not very devout.

That will change if Romney wins.

Wow. You really don't know Mormons. Had he been an ordinary dude not running for office, most LDS adherents would die of laughter at the suggestion that he's devout.

Re:Wrong question -- (1)

phantomfive (622387) | about a year and a half ago | (#41654667)

He's a Bishop. He has a temple recommend. He still goes to church, even on the campaign trail. Sure, he had to be a little shifty on his opinions of abortion, but that's because he's a politician.

Re:Wrong question -- (4, Insightful)

ChatHuant (801522) | about a year and a half ago | (#41650839)

The kind of people who get votes from devout Christians in America are people who understand how to exploit religion as a way to rally political supporters

Isn't it effectively a distinction without a difference? Once a politician starts relying on the religious voters, he'll have to support a religion-driven agenda or risk being denounced as a turn-coat and kicked out of office - for a religious voter is a jealous voter. Whether he supports the religious agenda from personal conviction or for political survival is immaterial in the end.

Re:Wrong question -- (2)

smugfunt (8972) | about a year and a half ago | (#41654549)

Once a politician starts relying on the religious voters, he'll have to support a religion-driven agenda or risk being denounced as a turn-coat and kicked out of office - for a religious voter is a jealous voter.

Not so, apparently:

Once someone becomes a leader of the high RWAs' in-group, he can lie with impunity about the out-groups, himself, whatever, because he knows the followers will seldom check on what he says, nor will they expose themselves to people who set the record straight. Furthermore they will not believe the truth if they somehow get exposed to it, and if the distortions become absolutely undeniable, they will rationalize it away and put it in a box. If the scoundrel's duplicity and hypocrisy lands him on the front page of every daily in the country, the followers will still forgive him if he just says the right things.

The Authoritarians - Bob Altemeyer [umanitoba.ca]

Re:Wrong question -- (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41650957)

I disagree entirely. I'm only really familiar with anything but Christianity but they are master marketers. I mean think about it. By definition every act of God is good. God does things in the Bible like instruct parents to murder/sacrifice their children. There are nursery rhymes about "Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so." etc. There are no verses about the admiration of a god that supports human sacrifice, or that Jesus in fact is intent on setting your children on fire. None of that is in the songs. The songs are all about "Someone loves you no matter what." The billboards are very much "Jesus loves you!" not "Jesus is going to set you on fire!" In fact, the religious in this country understand marketing quite well. So well, in fact most of them are unaware that they are doing it.

Re:Wrong question -- (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41650575)

The People's Republic of China is highly atheistic and because of that they commit atrocities all the time.

Mind you, I say that with tongue firmly in cheek. Obviously they are not horrible leaders because they are atheists. But the point is, you're cherry-picking an example where religious faith results in political leaders doing something stupid, which is absurdly simplistic, and frankly bigoted.

Do they cite atheism as the reason? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41655501)

No.

But there are religious leaders all around who use their religion as reason to commit the atrocity.

Re:Wrong question -- (4, Insightful)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | about a year and a half ago | (#41652483)

I simply said that instead of comparing religion to oppression, we should understand that religion leads to oppression.

As am atheiest I have to disagree. There are plenty of religious people who believe exactly the same thing about atheism. I say both groups are missing the forest for the trees -- the most obvious common factor between groups like the Khmer Rouge, which outlawed religion, and groups like the Taliban, which mandate a severe form of religion, is extremism.

Whenever the people running the show value principles more than human lives you get oppression.

Re:Wrong question -- (4, Insightful)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | about a year and a half ago | (#41649977)

The question is whether religion leads to oppressive politics and low technology

I think the question is the other way around: do politicians seeking to push oppressive policies turn to religion as a way to rally supporters?

Re:Wrong question -- (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41651217)

The real question is why "censorship" in another civilisation is an issue of the United States. Civil society groups should seek to reform their own nation, not others where they are not citizens. It is not my business to reform the US political system, and it is not the business of US activists to interfere into the internal matters of other nations.

Re:Wrong question -- (3, Insightful)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | about a year and a half ago | (#41650171)

This is a false dichotomy.

Actually, there is one more dichotomy. To think that for Iran, religion is not a political issue is ludicrous, since the Supreme Leader of Iran is as much a political as a religious office. These two are very much intertwined. And even if they didn't consider the need for these measures primarily for religious reasons, given that religion is a political issue for them, they'd still suppress calls for more lenient religious regime precisely because it's a part of their political program.

Re:Wrong question -- (1)

fatphil (181876) | about a year and a half ago | (#41651011)

I think the name of the country "The Islamic Republic of Iran" gives pretty strong clues that anything that is political is also religious.

Re:Wrong question -- (4, Insightful)

Jawnn (445279) | about a year and a half ago | (#41650263)

This is a false dichotomy. The question is whether religion leads to oppressive politics and low technology, not whether oppressive politics are more correlated with oppression and low technology than religion.

I don't know that that's the question at all. It is folly to believe that any national body politic is driven by religion. To be sure, there's lots of posturing, but that's all about keeping the voters (Republican base) in line, or the various tribal factions (pick a Middle East country) for uniting in open revolt. Beyond that, the leaders don't give a shit about what god things when they're making policy. For all the stuff he got wrong, Karl Marx was dead on about religion being "the opiate of the people". Indeed, the much less seen quote is, "Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions." Clearly, Marx understood the cynicism with which powerful political people view religion. Would that more of the world's "oppressed creatures" woke the hell up and realized how much they've been manipulated through the use of religion. Without that tool, the world would be a very, very different place.

Re:Wrong question -- (1)

davydagger (2566757) | about a year and a half ago | (#41653741)

'For all the stuff he got wrong, Karl Marx was dead on about religion being "the opiate of the people"'

mabey in his day. I see it as the "crack coccaine"

Re:Wrong question -- (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41653909)

Bath salts.

Re:Wrong question -- (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41650343)

Well, you can certainly see how that holds with the religious right and the GOP. Plus all those loonies you've got bombing abortion clinics. Nutcases on both sides, so let's not just blame islam like usual, shall we? People in glass houses, and all that.

Re:Wrong question -- (1)

ilguido (1704434) | about a year and a half ago | (#41650697)

But Iran (nor China for that matter) is not a low-technology country. At the Robocup, for example, they always had good scores, especially in the Robocup rescue contest. Embargoes harm their technology more than religion (to say the truth they're embargoed for that very purpose...). Curiously enough, none ever speaks about Saudi Arabia, that would be a much more fitting example.

Re:Wrong question -- (3, Insightful)

lilfields (961485) | about a year and a half ago | (#41652903)

Let me remind you that prior to the fall of Soviet Russia, religion was outlawed all together in -most- oppressive nations. I think religion is just a tool that politics uses to oppress, but it's not a necessary entity to oppression.

the difference between religion and goverment (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41649799)

Does the submitter not realized that there's not much difference in predominantly Arab countries.

Re:the difference between religion and goverment (2)

O('_')O_Bush (1162487) | about a year and a half ago | (#41649905)

There isn't much of a difference in other countries either. China, North Korea, and the USSR were (are) primarily athiest, mostly because the emotions in religion were redirected towards nationalism.

Iran did the opposite, but the effect is the same. In those countries, either religion worshipping the government, or government worshipping religion runs your life, and you don't get to pick which.

Not surprising at all (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41649827)

That's not surprising at all. Almost nothing about the alleged "conflict" between these countries and "the West" have to do with religion and it has a lot to do with post-colonialism and the Cold War. It's just that on both "sides" many people like to spin the issues in the direction of religion. It's ridiculous enough to speak about "Islamic Countries" as if they were a homogenous force or fraction.

Sorry for the many scare quotes but they are all appropriate in this case.

Re:Not surprising at all (4, Insightful)

DNS-and-BIND (461968) | about a year and a half ago | (#41649961)

Well, an Islamic-majority country can be called an Islamic country. Iran is more correctly known by its proper name, the Islamic Republic of Iran (IRI). Libya's draft constitution states in Part 1, Article 1: âoeIslam is the Religion of the State, and the principal source of legislation is Islamic Jurisprudence (Sharia).â In Egypt, Article 8 of the draft constitution states that only Islam, Christianity and Judaism are guaranteed freedom of worship and the right to build mosques, churches and temples.

How about walking around in one of these countries and asking people if they live in an Islamic country? How about walking around in the souk, wearing a T-shirt with a crucifix or a Star of David on it? I bet you'd get an answer real fast, and it wouldn't have anything to do with colonialism or the Cold War.

Re:Not surprising at all (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41651563)

Dunno, backing fundie leaders were a benefit to the west at the time as soviet communism was atheist.

Enemy of my enemy is my friend and all that.

Re:Not surprising at all (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41650915)

You know that Islamic countries have been trying to invade the West and convert Europe to Islam for over 1,000 years, right?

Re:Not surprising at all (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41651233)

That's not surprising at all. Almost nothing about the alleged "conflict" between these countries and "the West" have to do with religion and it has a lot to do with post-colonialism and the Cold War. It's just that on both "sides" many people like to spin the issues in the direction of religion. It's ridiculous enough to speak about "Islamic Countries" as if they were a homogenous force or fraction.

Sorry for the many scare quotes but they are all appropriate in this case.

"Post-colonialism"???!?!?!

OMFG, it's a "blame the West" twerp.

Read the Koran, you fool. Learn about dar al-Islam and dar al-Harb. [wikipedia.org]

Here's a hint: the non-Islamic parts of the world - dar al-Harb translates to "house of WAR."

Re:Not surprising at all (1)

Mashiki (184564) | about a year and a half ago | (#41652755)

The OIC [wikipedia.org] would disagree with your statements. Especially after a majority of members called for the death of a 14 year old girl.

Can't say I'm surprised (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41649833)

Can't say I'm surprised to hear this. Censorship is everywhere, in every culture for whatever offends that cultures ideologies, power structure, and economic models.
Blocking piracy for example is censorship, blocking the free exchange of information, because that combination of ones and zeros are the property of Microsoft Corporation. Where elsewhere in the world people couldn't care less about downloading music, but if you post a message calling the king a horsef**ker, you'd better be ready to be carted off in the night like Richard O'Dwyer.

It happens in the US, too (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41649863)

Slashdot user Michael Crawford is currently in jail for exercising his first amendment rights.

Report is pretty soft on the USA (5, Funny)

t4ng* (1092951) | about a year and a half ago | (#41649877)

According to report linked to in TFA, the US government has no internet surveillance and does not spread misinformation! Sounds like their report was censored!

Re:Report is pretty soft on the USA (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41651087)

the US government does not criticize the US government

Missing fact (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41649913)

is that in Islam (most ME countries) just like in Christianity in 3rd world countries (Serbia, Lebanon (has both Christianity and Islam censorship), etc...) religion mixes well with politics; an excellent recipe for civil war. It is part of all religions that have "expansion" as one of its mandates.

They call it "politically motivated website blockades", but it is partly if not mainly due to religious factors.

From the political journals of DUH (3, Insightful)

anarkhos (209172) | about a year and a half ago | (#41649927)

What moron thought this was surprising? China doesn't censor internet for political reasons either, remember? It's due to porn and other moralizing.

Nope, not suprised by this (2)

dismentor (592590) | about a year and a half ago | (#41650013)

I thought everyone realised that the conservative suppressive elements of a cuture are less to do with the religion itself but with the conservative suppressive people at the top.

its about power (3, Insightful)

wbr1 (2538558) | about a year and a half ago | (#41650019)

If a certain ideological view point holds power over the masses, usually through fear, those in power will use it to their advantage. This is true whether it is a political, moral, or ethical idea.

Re:its about power (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41650333)

If a certain ideological view point holds power over the masses, usually through fear, those in power will use it to their advantage. This is true whether it is a political, moral, or ethical idea.

Well that certainly has worked very well in the US of A.
At least you're #1 in something. ^_^

China and Cuba censor at home, not abroad (2)

PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) | about a year and a half ago | (#41650029)

Islamic countries are asking for international censorship of the whole Internet. So let them block anything they don't like at home. But they should not be allowed to expand their censorship policies to the whole Internet.

Surprising? (5, Insightful)

sound+vision (884283) | about a year and a half ago | (#41650033)

Oppressive regimes in the Middle East rank among the worst (but not particularly worse than) other oppressive regimes in other parts of the world? Is that a "surprising truth"? If anything this just confirms what we already knew - those in power there are interested singularly in that power, and Islam has just been a convenient way to justify it to their population. Not that Islam is conducive to free speech or any other advancement of the human species - but it's not the main reason these countries are censoring the internet.

Religion leveraged for a power play (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41650041)

Religion leveraged for a power play? Say it ain't so.

Power is the key (1)

aepervius (535155) | about a year and a half ago | (#41650087)

Money, Religion, Politics, people seeking power or in position of power and enjoying it (even if they started "innocent") is the key. I would go one step further : they are only symptoms. The real reason is that some type of people seek power, and power structure (as aforementioned) self-promote such thinking. No religion, plutocraty, or political regime is exempt of it. The trick is thru law, civil protest, constitution and the various tools the common folk have, to LIMIT and keep in check those pwoers. Even if it means getting the guillotine and axes sharpened and blooded from time to time. My only fears is that with the new technological tools, be it military , IT, or economics, a very small group can nowadays cocnentrate an enormous amount of powers, and hold it. And trust me on that one, if history teach us anything, is that those who hold pwoer are quasi never benevolent, empathic, and generous. More like egoistic, greedy, and with a sense of entitlement against the common folk.

Re:Power is the key (1)

hazah (807503) | about a year and a half ago | (#41651043)

Thank whatever god you wish that it still just takes one bullet to the head when things are bad enough. Who's head it'll be depends on the situation.

Welcome to Slashdot (2)

Guru80 (1579277) | about a year and a half ago | (#41650137)

Where the obvious and un-newsworthy are posted with impunity. Please give me more stories with studies finding tv as a babysitter is bad, religions are oppressive or fanatical and governments only care about their own interests.

With that out of the way, a fanatical religious leader who holds authority via his office over his people only leads to more extremes of the above mentioned.

film at 11 (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41650229)

religious dogmas are being used to further political goals ... I am shocked! Shocked!

no link to rankings (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41650369)

bad article , gee this is about as bad as hollywood stats....i know lets make shit up and point to some business website....
right....

Many "free" countries not that free at all (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41650445)

If you actually look at censorship Germany, UK, Canada, and many others implement blocking of sites. It does not matter who is doing it, what the content is, or why. It's still censorship. The United States may not have this in place although it does have significant control and influence that it need not implement it. It has successfully attacked objectionable sites all over the world. Pornographic, piracy related, and political. To declare the average American's Internet free is a crock of shit. In just about every one of these countries the only free Internet is over Tor and only to the extent you are connected to .onnion sites. Even here it isn't free as the connection is being limited by the available bandwidth and having to work around the censorship.

We should not outlaw censorship. We should outlaw the interference of communications and interruption of content thereby making it illegal to seize servers, disconnect users's/organizations/companies connections, reduce the speeds of Internet connections, change / add to the communications (mislead), shape traffic, or arrest persons for any communications or associations.

This would or should as I interpret prevent governments from doing things like saying two ex-cons can't communicate with each other. Freedom of association as I think of it does not exist with such laws in place. Democracy does not exist with such laws in place which prevent voting (imprisoned persons).

The threat to a persons speech and liberties should never be removed under any circumstances.

You can't suspend some freedoms or speech temporarily for the benefit of the arts, economy, etc. Either you have it or you don't. The US, Canada, Australia, and Europe do not have it. Canada, Australia, and Europe have laws against certain speech. This includes the denial of the holocaust.

Really? (1)

aglider (2435074) | about a year and a half ago | (#41650487)

[censorship] may have more to do with politics and technology than with religion

There are only a few country where politics rule! Almost all of the world is ruled by religion!

Re:Really? (5, Insightful)

nomad-9 (1423689) | about a year and a half ago | (#41651023)

There are only a few country where politics rule! Almost all of the world is ruled by religion!

No, most of the world is ruled by culture. The fact of the matter is that very little of religion's commandments are actually followed, whether we're considering Christians, Jews or Muslims.
Having read all three books (Torah, Bible and Koran - what can I say, I like to read science fiction stories before going to sleep), I can tell you that they all (yes, all) condemn such things as stealing, killing etc.

If religion was so powerful, there wouldn't be that much violation of its fundamentals, like stealing and killing. Religion is used as a means to not-so-religious ends, and that is because all three monotheist religions,are easy to misquote, misinterpret, and misuse.

Getting rid of all religions could be A Good Thing...or not. Even if they went away, there would still be plain godless Ideology, which has been proven to be at least as effective in turning whole countries into shit for supposedly noble causes.

Re:Really? (1)

aglider (2435074) | about a year and a half ago | (#41655103)

Well, mine was (meant to be) irony.
The real point is the heavily intentional confusion between "religion [wikipedia.org]" and "church" in the general sense of religion community (sorry, there's no suitable Wikipedia article for it).
While the first one is actually philosophy, the second one is mankind in practice. So, getting rid of churches is very likely a good thing, getting rid of philosophy could not.

all about capital and power (1)

Vince6791 (2639183) | about a year and a half ago | (#41650673)

When you have a government stifling free speech and expression, a government that is not for the people by the people, than you have either a dictatorship(iran mullah, north korea jim "ding dong ill", etc..) or monarchy(saudi arabia). Theocracy is a another method used by dictators and monarchs who are really capitalist to control the people. Dictators and Monarchs have wealth and live a luxury life while the people live in shit. Castro lives like a king while the people live in poverty, who is the capitalist here? Castro, he is the one with capital. People need to stop worshiping governments and the so called religious leaders altogether. People in power will always look after #1.

Editing lesson #402 (1)

wonkey_monkey (2592601) | about a year and a half ago | (#41650753)

Internet censorship is common in conservative majority-Muslim countries, but it may have more to do with politics and technology than with religion. I.e., Iran is not so different from Cuba and China.

Not really the most fitting use for "I.e." It translates as "that is," so would make more sense to write it as:

Internet censorship is common in conservative majority-Muslim countries, but Iran is not so different from Cuba and China - i.e., it may have more to do with politics and technology than with religion."

From the article: 'n an attempt to uncover the various reasons

"n an attempt"? That mistake leaps out of the page. I'd usually joke about editors not even reading submissions, but it's getting beyond a joke.

Economics (1)

Msdose (867833) | about a year and a half ago | (#41650767)

Capitalism is a law of nature, like evolution. Communism is a religion, like creationism.

Re:Economics (1)

tqk (413719) | about a year and a half ago | (#41653785)

Capitalism is a law of nature, like evolution.

So, it's okay to set my little sister on fire if I think I'm not getting enough food or attention from Mommy? How about if your little brother sets you on fire for the same reasons? Avian chicks push the weakest chick out of the nest, so it's natural, right?

I think humanity invented civilization in order to dull the edges of that sort of psychopathy. Capitalism is an economic system designed to maximize profit and minimize costs and is exemplary in rewarding its best practitioners and innovators. Its downside is that profit attracts second handers and freeloaders (including politicians), and many capitalists aren't principled enough to turn them away. They think getting ahead is getting ahead regardless of how low (morally and/or ethically) they have to sink to do it.

It has at times been a terrific system until the politicians inevitably mucked it up with descriminatory tarriffs, regulatory capture, protectionism, & etc.

Pot, meet kettle (2)

Brannoncyll (894648) | about a year and a half ago | (#41650813)

They shut down websites because they go against the values of their leaders, we also shut down websites because they go against the values of our leaders, only in our case those values are measured in US dollars and the driving motivation is not a (perhaps misplaced) belief in a higher power but instead pure, unadulterated greed.

Duh. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41650995)

It took that long for people to figure out the leaders behind fanatical islam don't give a fuck about the religion they're pushing? Next you'll tell me the leaders of the Catholic Church actually care about Christianity!

It's all politics, and the easiest way to control and manipulate people is to control and manipulate something they hold dear to them. Religion, family members, etc.

Keep them dumb
make sure they cant read
make sure anyone who isnt the above two is on board with your crap, or at least, not fighting it.
kill anyone who isnt brainwashing or at least pretending to be.

Voila, control.

Hypocritical American exceptionalists? (5, Informative)

nbauman (624611) | about a year and a half ago | (#41651237)

Question:

Do we really have more freedom in the U.S., or do we just permit freedom for ideas we believe in? Are we smug, hypocritical American exceptionalists?

Javed Iqbal was sentenced to 5 1/2 years for offering Al Manar on his cable TV system.

http://www.aljazeera.com/news/americas/2009/04/2009423233919457969.html [aljazeera.com]
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Al-Manar#Banning_of_broadcasts [wikipedia.org]

Occupy Wall Street wasn't allowed to express its First Amendment rights to assembly.

I'll take support for human rights whether it comes from the left or right. Freedom House seems to be the latter. I do wish they would show more concern about attacks on freedom of people like Javed Iqbal in their own backyard, but that may be an unreasonable request when you consider the source of their funds,

Here's what Chomsky said about Freedom House. Fair?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Freedom_house#Criticism [wikipedia.org]

Chomsky and Herman argue that the group's history has been characterized by excessively criticizing states opposed to US interests while being unduly sympathetic to those regimes supportive of US interests. The authors suggest this can be most notably seen by the way it perceived the US ally El Salvador in the early 1980s, a government that used the army for mass slaughter of the populace to intimidate them in the run-up to an "election", but Freedom House found these elections to be "admirable". Chomsky further claimed in 1988 that Freedom House "had interlocks with AIM, the World Anticommunist League [sic], Resistance International, and U.S. government bodies such as Radio Free Europe and the CIA, and has long served as a virtual propaganda arm of the (U.S) government and international right wing."

Re:Hypocritical American exceptionalists? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41653157)

Freedom House's board was filled with prominent neocons under Bush Jr: "neoconservatives such as Kenneth Adelman, Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz, Otto Reich, Jeane Kirkpatrick, Samuel Huntington, Zbigniew Brzezinski, and Malcolm Forbes Jr. on the board of trustees." Former CIA director & PNAC alumni James Woolsey under Bush Jr. was also a prominent player ( http://rightweb.irc-online.org/profile/Woolsey_James / http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/R._James_Woolsey,_Jr. )

Now there's more neo-liberals & the 'R2P' regime crowd in the mix, but neo-cons are still prominent.
Some history: http://mrzine.monthlyreview.org/2007/barahona030107.html
http://www.rightweb.irc-online.org/profile/Freedom_House

One word (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41652883)

Wikileaks

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