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Censorship The Internet Your Rights Online

The Surprising Truth About Internet Censorship In the Middle East 112

Posted by samzenpus
from the just-as-bad dept.
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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The Surprising Truth About Internet Censorship In the Middle East

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  • by wealthychef (584778) on Sunday October 14, 2012 @12:04PM (#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.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 14, 2012 @12:10PM (#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.

  • by wealthychef (584778) on Sunday October 14, 2012 @12:13PM (#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:No shit (Score:4, Insightful)

    by fustakrakich (1673220) on Sunday October 14, 2012 @12:23PM (#41649915) Journal

    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..

  • by anarkhos (209172) on Sunday October 14, 2012 @12:24PM (#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.

  • by DNS-and-BIND (461968) on Sunday October 14, 2012 @12:29PM (#41649961) Homepage
    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.

  • by betterunixthanunix (980855) on Sunday October 14, 2012 @12:31PM (#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?

  • by gmuslera (3436) on Sunday October 14, 2012 @12:32PM (#41649983) Homepage Journal

    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?

  • its about power (Score:4, Insightful)

    by wbr1 (2538558) on Sunday October 14, 2012 @12:38PM (#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.
  • by betterunixthanunix (980855) on Sunday October 14, 2012 @12:38PM (#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).

  • Surprising? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by sound+vision (884283) on Sunday October 14, 2012 @12:40PM (#41650033) Journal
    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.
  • Re:No shit (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jbwolfe (241413) on Sunday October 14, 2012 @12:55PM (#41650119) Homepage
    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".

  • by K. S. Kyosuke (729550) on Sunday October 14, 2012 @01:03PM (#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.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 14, 2012 @01:09PM (#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.

  • by Jawnn (445279) on Sunday October 14, 2012 @01:17PM (#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:No shit (Score:4, Insightful)

    by skipkent (1510) on Sunday October 14, 2012 @01:20PM (#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 (Score:3, Insightful)

    by fustakrakich (1673220) on Sunday October 14, 2012 @02:28PM (#41650717) Journal

    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.

  • by ChatHuant (801522) on Sunday October 14, 2012 @02:44PM (#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:Really? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by nomad-9 (1423689) on Sunday October 14, 2012 @03:01PM (#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:No shit (Score:4, Insightful)

    by realityimpaired (1668397) on Sunday October 14, 2012 @06:15PM (#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.

  • by Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) on Sunday October 14, 2012 @06:38PM (#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.

  • by lilfields (961485) on Sunday October 14, 2012 @07:38PM (#41652903) Homepage
    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.
  • by Beetle B. (516615) <.moc.liame. .ta. .b_elteeb.> on Sunday October 14, 2012 @10:59PM (#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.

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