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Current Affairs (23 Mar 2014 NewAgeIslam.Com)

‘Ban It- Block It’



By Aiman Reyaz, New Age Islam

23 March, 2014

“What progress we are making. In the Middle Ages they would have burned me. Now they are content with burning my books”. Sigmund Freud

“One idea can only be opposed by another idea”. Naguib Mahfouz

In the age of internet, almost any information is just a click away. Nothing can be hidden, there is always a way to uncover it. And since we are not living in a uni-polar environment i.e., from the global level to the local level, there are opposite forces at work to challenge the status quo. There just cannot be one piece of ‘knowledge’.

A few days ago, the social networking site ‘Twitter’ was blocked from working in Turkey. It was alleged that ‘Twitter’ was highlighting the corruption of the State. However the state-run news agency stated, on the contrary, that Twitter had some links which deemed illegal. 1

How can Saudi Arabia be far behind? In these matters it always takes the lead. The Saudi Authorities have stated that to prevent chaos in the Kingdom, the State will have full power. 2

Only a few months ago Pakistan had banned ‘New Age Islam’ because it was systematically and point by point refuting the ideas of the Jihadists and the Talibanis. And since they could not one-up New Age Islam intellectually or ideologically, the safest way for them was to block the website.

There are very broadly two reasons for banning or blocking any work: first, you can’t defeat it ideologically. That is to say, you are afraid of it. The other reason is that you are afraid that people may get upset or worse still, they may use violence. So to prevent such course of actions, it is better to ban.

The second reason seems to be quite satisfactory. But this reason raises a few more questions. Are people really that sensitive? Do they have the time to indulge in such nefarious activities? Don’t they have some other productive work to do?

I believe that people, especially the youths, hardly care. All of us want to live peacefully. It is the politicians and the self-proclaimed religious leaders with the help of the ever-ready media spark such kinds of controversy and which also leads to violence.

The best example in the recent past of banning is of Salman Rushdie’s ‘The Satanic Verses’. Now it is freely available on the internet and anyone can download it and read it (just like many other banned books).

Although Rushdie’s Satanic Verses is the most notorious international case of book censorship in the 20th century, it is not unique. Authors in Muslim countries face increasing threats to their freedom of expression and their safety by governments that censor or prosecute those whose writing offends Islamic religious authorities and by unofficial militant Islamic groups. Since the Islamic revolution of 1979 in Iran, thousands of writers, journalists, and other intellectuals have been jailed and unknown numbers executed or assassinated.

Egyptian writer Farag Fouda and Algerian novelist and journalist Tahar Djaout, among many others, were murdered during the 1990s by fundamentalist terrorists. In 1994, the Egyptian Nobel laureate Naguib Mahfouz was stabbed and seriously wounded. Other writers, such as Taslima Nasrin of Bangladesh, have been driven into exile by death threats or, like Egyptian novelist Alaa Hamed, sentenced to prison for blasphemy. The writing of feminists such as Nasrin, Nawal El Saadawi of Egypt, and Fatima Mernissi of Morocco, who challenge interpretations of Islamic dogma that restrict women, has particularly angered both governments and Islamists.3

Had it not been for the death sentence given by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeni, Salman Rushdie would not have been a common name, except in select literary circles. And so is the case with Taslima Nasrin.

The more one tries to grip the sands inside the fist, the more it will slip away. Similarly the more any piece of art is banned or blocked; the more people will come to know about it. This is basic psychology. We generally desire to do what we are told not to do.

“To prohibit the reading of certain books is to declare the inhabitants to be either fools or slaves”. Claude- Aldrien Helvetius

1.       Turkey Blocks Twitter After PM’s Threat to ‘Wipe Out’ Service


 2.         Saudi Arabia: Controlling the Media Scene


3.       Margaret Bald, Literature Suppressed on Religious Grounds, Revised Edition.

URL: http://www.newageislam.com/current-affairs/aiman-reyaz,-new-age-islam/‘ban-it--block-it’/d/66229



  • Mr. Rational,  You say "Ibn Hisham is considered as a liar. tabri is a liar. Bukhari is a liar. Hanbal is a liar. Imams are liars. Muhaiddtheen and Mufassireens are liars. then Sunnis are liars. Shias are liars. Sufis are liars. Brailvis are liars. Devbandis are liars"
    You call yourself Rational but really this is not your name. Are you not the biggest liar?
    Anyway, in this article too, you are running out of the theme of this article.
    By Ghulam Ghaus غلام غوث - 3/26/2014 6:27:16 AM

  • Siddiqi sahib, thanks for your comment.  All that we can do is to keep repeating the liberal dogma as often as possible. The rest is up to the next generation.

    By Ghulam Mohiyuddin - 3/26/2014 1:16:12 AM

  • Dear G M, I am happy to read your view on blaspheme.
    But the problem is that only a few will support it.; only the wise and the reasonable.Islamic books on the hisory of Muslim caliphs. kings who ruled before the arrival of democracy in this world paints a gory picture of murder,torture and bigotry.We do not find the supporters of peaceful coexistence for a considerable length of time in any epoch. It seems war cry or jihad fi sabilillah is deemed a nerve tonic for sick and degenerated Islamic society.
    So long societal degeneration and  demoralization prevails among the Muslims blaspheme will be considered a the sharpest sword in the defence of The religious idiots.
    By afaqSiddiqi - 3/26/2014 12:43:22 AM

  • There are deliberate liars, there are those who get carried away and exaggerate, there are those who merely fill up missing details with their imagination to make the picture complete, there are those who interpret events and give their own meaning to what they don't understand, there are those who only take the 'best' meaning and their counterparts who take only the 'worst' meaning.
    The simple answer is that most people are `congenital' liars. Speaking the truth is as much a science as it is a question of morality. A moral person is merely a person who lies unconsciously. An objective seeker of truth looks for logical consistency in any story and knows exactly what weight to assign to any story or how much to believe.
    When people like a conclusion, they believe it to be true, and they are also very likely to believe arguments that appear to support it, even when these arguments are unsound. Conversely, if people do not like the conclusion, they will reject the conclusion and all arguments no matter how sound these are. People are also therefore congenital rejecters of truth and believers of untruth.
    By Observer - 3/25/2014 1:17:08 AM

  • Ibn Hisham is considered as a liar. tabri is a liar. Bukhari is a liar. Hanbal is a liar. Imams are liars. Muhaiddtheen and Mufassireens are liars. then Sunnis are liars. Shias are liars. Sufis are liars. Brailvis are liars. Devbandis are liars. who is truthful then in Muslim world?

    these all people are revered personalities of Muslims save few. without these liars nobody knew who was mohammed, where he was born, how did he live his life? neither rational nor islampophobes wrote the sira, hadith, and tafseers.

    By rational mohammed yunus - 3/24/2014 10:27:43 PM

  • Rational says, "what if blasphemy is deen o iman of hadith/Sira believers?"
    With so many "what if" questions we are not going to go anywhere! Just say, "This is what I believe!". You are as much God's vice-regent on this earth as anybody else.

    By Ghulam Mohiyuddin - 3/24/2014 8:32:21 PM

  • They have not become Deen-o-imam.  Ibn Hisham is considered as a liar. These are quoted by the Islamophobes as if they have become Deen-o-iman of the Muslims. 200 years from now, what you write may also be quoted as the "Islamic view point" by the enemies of Iskam just because you were not banned!
    By Observer - 3/24/2014 7:47:50 PM

  • Observer - 3/24/2014 5:18:59 AM
    what if blasphemy is deen o iman of hadith/Sira believers? Are not these men revered scholars of Muslims? these blasphemy accounts find the places for example in the tib e nabavi.
    it will be blasphemy and internal evidence against the Islam if it is quoted by me. it is Deeni khidmat if published and taught in Madarsas of almost all sects.

    By rational mohammed yunus - 3/24/2014 12:58:33 PM

  • Without freedom of expression and academic independence, the works of Ibn Hisham, Ibn Ishaq and several others may have been banned in their time since these are equally "blasphemous". Freedom of expression, was therefore an Islamic virtue for several centuries.
    By Observer - 3/24/2014 5:18:59 AM

  • Salman Rushdie is a self indulgent obscurantist. His books are a torture to read.

    Taslima Nasreen is a very poor writer. Her novels have all sensationalism and no story or even characters worth mentioning. From a literary point of view they are dull.

    If not for the ban and opposition to their books, they wouldn't have been best sellers.

    Muslim fundamentalists did a favor to these people. These writers, forever, will be grateful to Islamists.

    By non muslim - 3/23/2014 7:11:22 PM

  • Blasphemy laws are un-Islamic. It would be a great day when we Muslims stop being so sensitive about "insults" to the Quran or to the Prophet. Such insults do no harm to Islam. Getting enraged and killing Christians or burning Hindu temples does more harm to Islam than blasphemy. Let us make freedom of speech an Islamic principle.

    By Ghulam Mohiyuddin - 3/23/2014 2:57:18 PM

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