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Middle East Censorship News

2018: April-June

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Dictator loses his appeal...

German court dismisses Erdogan's appeal for the censorship of comedian who mocked him

Link Here24th June 2018
Full story: Erdogan Insulted in Europe...Free speech finds no refuge in Germany

The Hamburg Higher Court ruled to dismiss Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's appeal to ban German comedian Jan Böhmermann's poem due to claims of insult and mockery.

The court ruled that the poem could not be completely banned due to Germany's laws protecting free speech. However, the court did uphold a ban regarding specific passages within the poem, which associates Erdogan with acts like bestiality and consuming child pornography.

The Turkish president was able to file a case against the German-based comedian due to an obscure German law that deems it illegal for German citizens to insult foreign leaders.

Böhmermann initially presented the poem on 31 March 2016 on his public broadcaster ZDF television programme Neo Magazin Royale . The satirical poem, which accused the Turkish president of repressing minorities and engaging in lewd behaviour, was read aloud by Böhmermann while he sat in front of a Turkish flag and a framed portrait of Erdogan.



Audience calls for sacking...

More appropriate for a Kuwaiti TV presenter than a pretty white dress

Link Here14th June 2018
A female TV game show host in Kuwait has been fired after viewers reportedly complained about her supposedly inappropriate outfit.

Amal Al-Awadhi was shocked when controllers of the government-owned channel ordered a live broadcast to stop immediately.

Viewers had allegedly complained that her white knee-length dress with sleeves was inappropriate, saying she should have been more modestly dressed for the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

The 29-year-old presenter reportedly took to Snapchat to complain about the decision:

I heard someone saying, Take Amal Al Awadhi off air now, or I'll shut down the channel.

She said she's still unsure as to why she was fired from her job.



Social media against conservatives...

Twitter steps up the censorship, no doubt conservatives will bear the brunt of it

Link Here16th May 2018
Full story: Twitter Censorship...Twitter offers country by country take downs
Twitter has outlined further censorship measures in a blog post:

In March, we introduced our new approach to improve the health of the public conversation on Twitter. One important issue we've been working to address is what some might refer to as "trolls." Some troll-like behavior is fun, good and humorous. What we're talking about today are troll-like behaviors that distort and detract from the public conversation on Twitter, particularly in communal areas like conversations and search. Some of these accounts and Tweets violate our policies, and, in those cases, we take action on them. Others don't but are behaving in ways that distort the conversation.

To put this in context, less than 1% of accounts make up the majority of accounts reported for abuse, but a lot of what's reported does not violate our rules. While still a small overall number, these accounts have a disproportionately large -- and negative -- impact on people's experience on Twitter. The challenge for us has been: how can we proactively address these disruptive behaviors that do not violate our policies but negatively impact the health of the conversation?

A New Approach

Today, we use policies, human review processes, and machine learning to help us determine how Tweets are organized and presented in communal places like conversations and search. Now, we're tackling issues of behaviors that distort and detract from the public conversation in those areas by integrating new behavioral signals into how Tweets are presented. By using new tools to address this conduct from a behavioral perspective, we're able to improve the health of the conversation, and everyone's experience on Twitter, without waiting for people who use Twitter to report potential issues to us.

There are many new signals we're taking in, most of which are not visible externally. Just a few examples include if an account has not confirmed their email address, if the same person signs up for multiple accounts simultaneously, accounts that repeatedly Tweet and mention accounts that don't follow them, or behavior that might indicate a coordinated attack. We're also looking at how accounts are connected to those that violate our rules and how they interact with each other.

These signals will now be considered in how we organize and present content in communal areas like conversation and search. Because this content doesn't violate our policies, it will remain on Twitter, and will be available if you click on "Show more replies" or choose to see everything in your search setting. The result is that people contributing to the healthy conversation will be more visible in conversations and search.


In our early testing in markets around the world, we've already seen this new approach have a positive impact, resulting in a 4% drop in abuse reports from search and 8% fewer abuse reports from conversations. That means fewer people are seeing Tweets that disrupt their experience on Twitter.

Our work is far from done. This is only one part of our work to improve the health of the conversation and to make everyone's Twitter experience better. This technology and our team will learn over time and will make mistakes. There will be false positives and things that we miss; our goal is to learn fast and make our processes and tools smarter. We'll continue to be open and honest about the mistakes we make and the progress we are making. We're encouraged by the results we've seen so far, but also recognize that this is just one step on a much longer journey to improve the overall health of our service and your experience on it.



Offsite Article: Read all about it...Not...

Link Here14th May 2018
Turkish court bans nine books on Kurds, ranging from genocide, Barzani, and Mahabad to Ezidi faith

See article from



Updated: Courting Discord...

Iranian courts ban the Telegram app and even the government opposes the move

Link Here7th May 2018
Full story: Iranian Internet Censorship...Extensive internet blocking
Monday's ban on the popular encrypted Telegram messaging app by Iran's powerful judiciary has not been well received.

Telegram serves many Iranians as a kind of combination of Facebook and Whatsapp, allowing people inside the country to chat securely and to disseminate information to large audiences abroad. Until the court ban, the application was widely used by Iranian state media, politicians, companies and ordinary Iranians for business, pleasure and political organizing. Telegram is believed to have some 20 million users in Iran out of a total population of 80 million.

The judiciary's Culture and Media Court banned the app citing among its reasons its use by international terrorist groups and anti-government protesters, and the company's refusal to cooperate with Iran's Ministry of Information and Communications Technology to provide decryption keys.

The move came after extensive public debate in Iran, some conducted via the messaging service itself, about the limits of free expression, government authority and access to information in the Islamic Republic.

President Hassan Rouhani and other prominent reformers, who advocate increased freedom while retaining Iran's current Islamic system of government, argued against the proposed ban, saying that it would make society anxious.

Similarly, in the wake of the judiciary's announcement that the application would be blocked, Information and Communications Technology Minister Muhammad-Javad Azari Jahromi criticized the move on Twitter. Citizens' access to information sources is unstoppable, he wrote the day after the decision. Whenever one application or program is blocked, another will take its place, he wrote. This is the unique aspect and necessity of the free access to information in the age of communication.

Rouhani was even more forthright in his response to the ban in a message posted to Instagram on Friday. The government policy is... a safe, but not controlled Internet, he wrote. No Internet service or messaging app has been banned by this government, and none will be. He added that the block was the direct opposite to democracy.

Update: The judicial censorship of Telegram could be challenged by the president

7th May 2018. See  article from

Two lawyers in Tehran told the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI) that the Iranian president has the authority to refuse to the prosecutor's order to ban the Telegram messaging app.

An attorney in Tehran specializing in media affairs, who spoke on the condition of anonymity due to the threat of reprisals by the judiciary, told CHRI: From a legal standpoint, orders issued by assistant prosecutors must be enforced but they can be challenged. As the target of this order, the government can lodge a complaint and ask the provincial court to make a ruling. But the question is, does the government want to take legal action or not? This is more of a political issue. In the same manner, the judiciary had invoked security laws to shut down 40 newspapers in 2000.



Sympathy for the Devil...

Egypt's film censor bans film set in Morocco for supposedly encouraging revolution

Link Here6th May 2018
Razzia is a 2017 France / Morocco / Belgium drama by Nabil Ayouch.
Starring Maryam Touzani, Arieh Worthalter and Amine Ennaji. IMDb

The streets of Casablanca provide the centerpiece for five separate narratives that all collide into one.

Egypt's film censors have banned Nabil Ayouch's film Razzia for supposedly encouraging revolution, especially that the film tells the story of the marginalized poor in search of justice in Morocco.

The film censor specifically referred to events in the movie that recall the 2011 Egyptian revolution. The censor also reported concerns with the impact of religion, as it strongly believe that projecting Razzia will inspire the sympathy and compassion of the audience, as the movie follows the daily life of a Jewish restaurateur.

It's not the first time that the French-Moroccan director Nabil Ayouch has had to deal with censorship, as the Moroccan government banned his controversial film Much Loved in Moroccan cinemas in 2015.



Misogyny Rumbled...

Saudi authorities apologize for 'indecent' female wrestlers at the Royal Rumble

Link Here1st May 2018
The Saudi Arabia government has apologised to its citizens after supposedly indecent images appeared on big screens during a world wrestling event in the kingdom, Daily Mail reported.

A statement was released by the Saudi General Sports Authority on Twitter, which apologised for the scenes of indecent women that featured in an ad before one of the matches. The statement came a day after a promotional ad featuring female wrestlers aired at the World Wrestling Entertainment Co's Greatest Royal Rumble in Jeddah.

The authority said there were shots of women who were indecent and it also said it will not show matches involving female wrestlers.

Men in the audience though cheered on the broadcast of the images during the transmission at the King Abdullah Sports City stadium.

Wrestling News reported that the video during which the indecent images aired was promoting WWE Network's upcoming dual-branded PPV Best of Both Worlds show, and showed women in wrestling attire.



Cinema returns to Saudi Arabia after 37 years of being banned...

And of course the first film was cut by the censors

Link Here 20th April 2018
The first film screened in Saudi Arabia for 37 years was Black Panther albeit a little shorter than the version playing in the rest of the world due to the censorship of a kiss at the end of the film.

Unsurprisingly movies screened in Saudi cinemas will be subject to approval by government censors. Still, it's a distinct improvement over a total cinema ban. Many Saudi clerics still view Western movies and even Arabic films made in Egypt and Lebanon as sinful.

US-based AMC, one of the world's biggest movie theater operators, only two weeks earlier signed a deal with Prince Mohammed to operate the first cinema in the kingdom. AMC and its local partner hurriedly transformed a concert hall in the Saudi capital, Riyadh, into a cinema complex for Wednesday's screening.The new movie theater also came equipped with prayer rooms to accommodate the daily Muslim prayer times.

Screenings are gender segregated in a manner customary at restaurants and cafes. Screenings will generally have a seating area for women who may be accompanied by male relatives, and another area for men only. Some screenings could be designated as solely for woman+families or for men only.

The cinema won't open to the public for a few days as the first screenings are private, invitation-only events.

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